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Montreal has replaced Paris, which had held the title for four years, as the best city in the world for international students. The ranking was released by QS Rankings, which conducts regular major surveys of students worldwide to find the top cities and countries for higher education across various categories.
This survey questioned 18,000 students about the desirability of cities around the world. It also researched a number of factors, including the quality of universities, student facilities, cost of living, employment opportunities, and levels of tolerance and openness in order to reach its conclusion. In total, six categories were assessed: student mix, desirability, employer activity, affordability, student opinion, and the number of institutions in a city that place in the QS University Rankings.
Canada as a whole was well represented in the rankings, with Vancouver claiming the 10th spot and Toronto the 11th. Ottawa and Quebec City also placed in the top 100 cities worldwide, at positions 26 and 72, respectively. This data reinforces recent statistics showing that increasing numbers of individuals are looking to study in Canada, attracted by its high quality of life, world-class education system, and permanent immigration opportunities.
With a student population of almost 250,000, Montreal has the highest proportion of post-secondary students in any major Canadian city. The city hosts 11 universities, including two of Canada’s top English-language universities: McGill University and Concordia University. According to QS, McGill University is the top-ranked university in Canada.
The bilingual nature of the city’s education system is a major lure for many international students: there are plentiful opportunities to live and study in English and/or French. International students are also drawn to Montreal for its comparatively low costs of living, lively arts scene, and unique ambience that is often compared to a city in Europe. The city’s tolerant culture, diverse opportunities, and “vibrant clash of North American and European values” were also valued by students.
Another major lure of Montreal as a study destination for international students is the Quebec immigration system. The province has recently launched an initiative to retain international students in Montreal after graduation, and the policies are in place to support this. Quebec is the only province in Canada that does not require international graduates from an undergraduate or college study program to obtain a job offer or skilled work experience in order to apply for permanent immigration to Canada.
International students who graduate from an eligible program at a in Quebec may apply to the province for a Certificat de séléction du Québec — Quebec Selection Certificate, or CSQ — and, after receiving a CSQ, they may apply to the federal government for permanent resident status. For international graduates, there are two main routes towards obtaining a CSQ:
Find out more about the differences between the PEQ and QSWP.
Learn more about studying in Quebec.
Ontario and British Columbia are, by a large margin, the two most popular destination provinces in Canada for international students. The University of Toronto places second in the QS Ranking for overall top university in Canada, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver places third.
As Canada’s largest city, Toronto can boast a level of diversity and opportunity that rivals that of other major cities worldwide. Its universities and colleges perform strongly year over year, and include well-known institutions such as the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University, Centennial College, and the Ontario College of Art and Design.
Vancouver is another top destination for international students, who are attracted by its mild climate, stunning coastal location, innovative job opportunities, and strong links to US and East Asia. In recent years, British Columbia has supported several initiatives to attract and support international students, including options for pursuing permanent residence after graduation.
To learn more about the immigration options available to international graduates in Canada, consult this comprehensive table.
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