Study in Canada: Top reasons for international students to choose Calgary

Published: July 4, 2023

Calgary is a highly attractive destination for international students.

When deciding where to study internationally, prospective post-secondary students have an abundance of options at their disposal, both from the perspective of choosing what country to study in and what institution to attend.   

So, why should international students heading to Canada choose Calgary?

Calgary is one of Canada's youngest major cities, full of education, career, and lifestyle opportunities. The city has a vibrant tech scene and growing economy, while offering a low cost of living and close proximity to the famous Rocky Mountains.

Calgary is a city where residents speak more than 120 different languages and international students are able to enjoy an average of 333 days of sunshine per year —more than any major Canadian city. The city continues to receive international acclaim. In 2022, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Calgary as the third most livable city in the world, receiving top marks for culture, environment, and education.

Located in Calgary, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) welcomes international students from all over the world and aims to play a major role in their success during and after their studies.

Need support or have questions about applying to SAIT? Contact a regional Recruitment Advisor for more information!

Tuition is more affordable at SAIT

From an educational standpoint, Alberta - and Calgary specifically, a city that is home to more than 65 different Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) - also offers affordable tuition for international students. DLIs are the educational institutions approved by Canada's provincial and federal governments to host international students.

Calgary is one of Canada's most affordable major cities for international students.

In fact, according to preliminary Statistics Canada (StatsCan) data for 2022/2023, Alberta has a lower average cost of tuition for international students – at both the undergraduate and graduate levels - than some other major Canadian educational destinations. Average tuition cost in Alberta is lower at both levels than in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

At SAIT, annual tuition and fees amount to $21,000. This figure is markedly lower than many institutions across Canada’s other major provinces, with tuition averages ranging from $23,000 to $39,000 more than SAIT.

At the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, international student tuition fees for 2023/24 range from $44,000 to $58,000 (depending on the chosen program). McGill University in Montreal charged undergraduate international Bachelor of Arts (BA) students $31,500.50 during the 2022/23 school year. International students in the Arts and Science faculty at the University of Toronto will pay an average tuition of $60,510 for the 2023-24 academic year.

This puts SAIT on the more affordable end of all DLIs in Canada’s major provinces.

Need support or have questions about applying to SAIT? Contact a regional Recruitment Advisor for more information!

SAIT offers career supports to international students seeking to work in Calgary's diverse economy

One of the most important reasons that Calgary is a popular choice for international students is its employment prospects.

After completing their education at SAIT, many international students seek a pathway to remaining in Canada and pursuing a career and life in this country. Eligible international graduates at SAIT are able to get a Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which enables them to gain additional Canadian work experience for up to three years (the length of the PGWP depends on the length of their program at SAIT). One of the many benefits of a PGWP is the professional work experience that international graduates gain with this work permit can enhance their competitiveness when apply for Canadian permanent residence. That is because Canadian government research shows having study and work experience in Canada supports the economic integration of immigration candidates.

Calgary has many employment opportunities for international students in a variety of sectors, making the city one of Canada’s most appealing destinations for career-driven international student graduates.

In fact, according to data from 2022, the province has over 38,000 combined job vacancies in the five occupational categories that Canada has chosen to prioritize in the federal government’s new category-based draws. Most of these vacancies are likely to be found in Calgary, Alberta’s most populated city.

This means that among some of the most in-demand employment industries across Canada – including healthcare, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), agriculture/agri-food, transport, and trade – Calgary has many available employment opportunities for international students who graduate from a post-secondary educational institution.

Need support or have questions about applying to SAIT? Contact a regional Recruitment Advisor for more information!

To assist with the process of finding a job after graduating from a post-secondary institution, SAIT offers free Career Planning and Career Advancement Services to enrolled students.

SAIT’s career planning services include appointments and workshops that help students “[identify] a career that fits with [their] interests, skills, personality, needs, values and preferred lifestyle.”

Note: Career planning appointments are individual sessions that “[include] a standardized assessment of [a student’s] interests, personality and values, followed by a two-hour meeting with a counsellor to interpret the results and plan the direction to take”

On the other hand, career advancement services at SAIT include workshops and assistance to help students network and connect with potential employers, improve their resume to best showcase their skills, learn how to perform best at job interviews, polish their LinkedIn profile and get hired.

Calgary is a tech talent magnet with more growth on the way

Calgary is already a very appealing destination to global talent, and has even more ambitious plans to support its economic growth. With over 40,000 tech workers in the city, Calgary has enjoyed over 20 per cent job growth in the tech sector between 2017 and 2021. Calgary is developing a large tech cluster attracting major tech employers such as IBM, Mphasis, AWS, Unity, and Infosys. More economic growth is expected. Last summer, Calgary's Metropolitan Region's Growth Plan took effect, with a strategy in place to support better services, infrastructure, and opportunities in the city.

SAIT invites you to consider moving to Calgary to pursue your educational, career, and immigration objectives and participate in Calgary's exciting future.

Need support or have questions about applying to SAIT? Contact a regional Recruitment Advisor for more information!

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