Many Doors Still Open to Higher Education in Canada this September

CIC News
Published: June 30, 2015

For many students around the world, summer signifies the end of examinations and graduation from senior secondary school. High school students in Canada are also wrapping up, many of them with a college or university offer letter in hand. For many international students still outside Canada, however, the situation feels less relaxed. Most Canadian universities’ admissions deadlines have passed, and owing to additional requirements and challenges, many may feel as though the doors to a Canadian post-secondary education are already closed.

This may not be the case, however.

A number of forward-thinking Canadian schools have met these challenges and are offering a range of options that can satisfy students still hoping to begin studying in a Canadian college or university this September. This article will cover a number of examples that may be appropriate to these students’ unique situations.

Rolling Admissions

While most larger research universities don’t accept students after spring admission deadlines, many colleges (academic colleges and polytechnics among them) offer admission to programs as long as there is space available. In some isolated cases, universities may also extend deadlines to specific programs if space allows. Rolling admissions are subject to change. Click here to learn more.

University Transfer Programs

If students miss a deadline or do not qualify academically for direct (first-year) entry to a competitive university in Canada, then it is still possible to start equivalent course work at a college and, if successful, transfer to universities at the second or third year level. If done correctly, this should take four years —the same time it takes to complete a university degree.

Many students choose this method because it combines the hands-on and student-centred approach of a college education with the traditional academic skills demanded by university. Most universities’ admissions policies are also much kinder to second- and third-year entry students, allowing for lower GPAs (grade point averages) and language test exemptions. Moreover, the cost of a college program can represent up to 40 percent in savings for similar course work.

Learn more about colleges in Canada.

Province-Wide University Transfer Programs

In certain provinces, such as British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, most colleges and universities co-operate credit-transfer programs, enabling students to customize their education pathway and even complete a bachelor’s degree from multiple schools. This has the added advantage of allowing first and second-year students to “test the waters” before committing to one school for the remaining two or three years. This can be an advantage to a student who has never been to Canada before. Learn more about University Transfer Programs.

Multiple Credentials

For individuals looking for skills training for a career or employment, completing a certificate, diploma, or associate degree at a college could be the right choice. These programs tend to range from one to two years and, because they culminate in a Canadian credential, may qualify international students for the post-graduation work permit. Furthermore, these diplomas and degrees are in many cases transferable “in blocks” to the university level, allowing for unique combinations of degree-degree or diploma degree programs.   

University Foundations / University Preparation Programs

University Foundation programs provide opportunities for international students whose qualifications are not immediately accepted for direct entry to the Canadian college and university system. Unlike the university transfer system, however, this coursework is not done at the post-secondary level. Instead, these require additional high-school level preparation and are usually not-for-credit. Some typical scenarios:

  • A student has completed senior secondary in his or her home country, but these studies are not equivalent to 12 years of education in Canada. In these cases, the student will need to spend time upgrading by taking specific grade 11 or 12 subjects before he or she can attend a post-secondary school.
  • A student has both the requisite GPA and the language level but is advised to first learn about academic expectations and gaining practical skills to survive and thrive in a post-secondary environment in Canada.
  • A student has passed the minimum entrance requirements, but at an earlier age than his or her Canadian counterparts. While these students are allowed to attend post-secondary institutions, many parents (and educators) feel that a foundation program is necessary to help acclimatize these younger students to the rigors of the Canadian education system.

Learn more about University Foundations.

University Pathway Programs

If a student has the requisite GPA to enter a college or university, but needs to spend time mastering the language skills required before they can officially begin, many schools will recognize that the student is academically strong but may struggle due to their language proficiency. As such, they may then extend a conditional offer letter in an effort to retain the student, on the condition that the student completes a language program and meets the target language proficiency before beginning study at the institution.

These language programs are often offered in-house (at the college or university itself) or in conjunction with a private language school. Many language schools have programs that allow for international students to gain acceptance to a university without taking an external language exam. These are called “seamless” pathways.


This is a lesser known method only offered by a small number of schools. Students with a higher degree of proficiency in English, but less than what the university requires (for example IELTS 5-6.0), can take English or French upgrading while taking a small selection of university-transferable credits. This allows for students to raise their language level while becoming accustomed to what’s expected of them at a university or college in Canada.

Urgent Things to Keep in Mind

  • Once an international student has gained admission to a Canadian school, he or she will need to apply for a study permit. Learn more about Canadian study permits.
  • Though some spaces remain available, the number is diminishing. Applicants must be proactive and act quickly.
  • Turnaround times on the part of colleges and universities may vary.

Visit Eligo Education to learn more about gaining admission to a Canadian college or university for September, 2015.

Eligo Education is a new, Canadian-owned and operated student placement and settlement service. As the official education agency of, Eligo supports its students at all levels of the research and decision-making process, including practical advice and counsel before and after arrival to Canada. This enables our students and their families to get the best fit for their unique situations, while preserving all future options.

© 2015 CICnews All Rights Reserved

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