Top 10 Public Universities in Canada for International Students

Canada has an extremely high quality of education. According to the World Population Review, Canada consistently ranks in the top 5 countries with the best education in the world. With significant government funding for education, well-paid staff and a general culture of completing post-secondary education, it's no wonder that international students flock to colleges and universities in Canada. One of the significant aspects of studying in Canada is, unlike many other countries, many of the top universities in Canada are public or government-funded.

Public universities are often hugely subsidized, meaning Canadian students have no tuition fees. Tuition fees are also heavily discounted for international students. As a result, Canada is seen as a top destination for students looking to study overseas. However, studying in a foreign school can be difficult for an international student, especially in the beginning. Adjusting to a new culture, campus and environment without the support network you have back home can put you under a massive amount of pressure while trying to achieve your best possible results in the classroom.

However, many universities in Canada go out of their way to ensure they welcome, support and aid international students through this transition. Some universities are more open to internationals than others and have well-renowned support networks for thousands of international students who walk through their doors. Below, we've compiled the top 10 public universities in Canada for international students to help you find the best place to spread your wings in a whole new world.

If you feel that studying in Canada as an international student is the right direction, click the button below to talk to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). They will help with all the necessary immigration processes, such as getting a student visa, applying to universities and preparing for your move to Canada.

University of British Columbia (UBC)


UBC is one of the largest and best universities in Canada for international students. The university is consistently ranked in the top 20 public universities in the world. In addition, it boasts 17 225 international students from over 150 countries in its student body, making it one of the most diverse universities in Canada.

As a result, the university has top-notch facilities to aid its thousands of international students. In addition, UBC has a complete International Student advisory to help internationals with immigration protocol, adjusting to life in Canada, mental and physical health, getting oriented to campus life and ensuring they're coping with their course work.

UBC is a fantastic place for international students, not only from the outside but also from the international students. So many students have incredibly positive things to say about their time and support at UBC.

"Your admission to UBC is the university's way of saying, 'You belong here!' – do not doubt yourself. Every other first-year student is in the same boat - new and lonely, away from home, for perhaps the first time. You will find family in the classmates and roommates around you through supporting one another." 

Patience Spinoza Okuku - 4th year Bachelor of Management, Minor in Sociology, UBC. For a full breakdown of what UBC can offer you, look at this article.

McGill University

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McGill University prides itself on being Canada's most international university, with almost one-third of the student body comprising over 11 000 international students.

As a result, McGill has a vast array of student support services via their International Student Service (ISS). The ISS offers webinars and workshops to help internationals get to terms with studying at McGill. On top of this, McGill has a buddy program which pairs new international students with current students to provide them with a friendly face around campus who can help them with any issues they may face when adjusting to McGill.

On top of this, McGill has their iStep program, which helps international students start their careers in Canada after graduation.

International students already at McGill have many reasons why McGill is the perfect place to expand their horizons. For example, Venkata Manikanta, studying an M.Sc. in Parasitology at McGill, says:

"There were many reasons (why I chose McGill). A few of them are:

  1. It's one of the world's top-ranked universities (ranked - 32 in the world)
  2. The course structure
  3. My area of interest that matches with the supervisor I selected
  4. Campus culture (got to know through my seniors & friends)."

For a full breakdown of what McGill can offer you, look at this page.

Concordia University Montreal

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Situated in one of Canada's most vibrant cities, Concordia University Montreal is one of Canada's most prestigious and respected universities. Prospective students worldwide flock to Concordia due to its student-centred academics and fantastic locations. As a result, the university boasts an impressive 9,883 international students.

Concordia University Montreal has an International Students Organization (ISO) to support these students on their campus to provide them with the necessary guidance to help them get settled at Concordia. In addition, before you even arrive, Concordia has a host of webinars to help with course registration, health insurance, jetlag, and clearing customs, among others.

On top of this, ISO also hosts social events to help students build connections with other international students and workplace tours to help international students understand their future careers.

As a result of all of these features, international students tend to have glowingly positive reviews of their time at Concordia. One such student is Agam Jindal, who is completing a Bachelor's in Computer science, specializing in Computer Applications:

"(Concordia is) Great for international students! The location is very nice, and so is the university academically. The tuition is also reasonable, and accommodation is not hard to find."

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

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While a slightly smaller university, SFU is widely considered one of the best universities in Canada for international students. They achieve this with their International Services for Students (ISS) offices. The ISS provides welcome guides and international advisors for new students, as well as the Global Student Centre, which acts as a space for internationals to create connections, engage in global issues and share experiences through workshops and social events.

They also have their fantastic Global Connections Program, which pairs new arrivals with a Community Leader to help them acclimate to their new surroundings.

Many SFU's 4 908 international students have very positive things to say about their treatment as a newcomer at the university. One such student is B.B.A graduate Vishal Chakrapani Nageshwara says:

"The excellent infrastructure, updated curriculum, and beautiful atmosphere of the college attracted me towards itself, and I decided to take my admission here and pursue my Bachelor of Business Administration from this particular university. 

This page can give you a full breakdown of life at SFU.

University of Alberta (U of A)

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Situated in the provincial capital of Edmonton, U of A has made its name a premier public research university in Canada over its 114 years. As a result of its extremely high research standards, quality teaching and fantastic student facilities, U of A consistently ranks as one of the Top 5 universities in Canada. This prestige has caused it to be one of the best universities in Canada for international students, and their 8 000 internationals make up over 20% of the student body.

To help with the massive amount of internationals on campus, U of A has extensive international student programs. Examples include: 

  • the U of A+ International Undergraduate Success Program, explicitly designed to help internationals cope with the Canadian post-secondary system, 

  • the I-Work work placement program to help internationals find work post-graduation 

  • the I-Advise student advisor team to help with official and unofficial means of getting internationals to acclimate.

For more information on U of A, look at this page.

University of Windsor

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The University of Windsor's smaller, more intimate culture is perfect for new arrivals to Canada. Settled in the beautiful Windsor, Ontario, the university is the southernmost university in Canada. As a result, students enjoy the mild climate and small-town feeling Windsor presents in spades.

The University of Windsor is a highly prestigious research University, inviting great minds from all over the world to expand and spread their knowledge to the student body.

Windsor has a wealth of fantastic support structures for international students, such as a thriving network of international student advisors and their revolutionary Soft Landing Program for New International Arrivals, presenting internationals with the necessary advice and guidance to get their start in Canada on the right foot.

The University of Windsor's significant attribute is the extremely high quality of education. Students such as Bachelor of Computer science graduate Jayadeep Venkateswaran have rung the praises of the university's education quality, stating:

"I was amazed and impressed by the quality of education this premier Institute provides."

Dalhousie University

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Settled in the beautiful town of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University is ranked as one of the country's top 10 universities for graduate employment. It holds a 5-star rating from the QS Stars World University Ranking. With over 200 years of quality education, Dalhousie University is a hub of international minds, with over 4 500 international students.

To aid its international student base, Dalhousie University has a massive International Centre which provides academic, health, career and leadership support. Another significant aspect of Dalhousie university is its English as a second language program. It helps to ensure all internationals are given as many tools as possible to get their qualification.

As a result, the students of Dalhousie University get a fantastic university experience. As Dalhousie Environmental Sustainability student, Tarang Vinita, says:

The vibrant academic programs are supported by continual innovation in the classroom and a focus on interactive learning. And as Atlantic Canada's leading research university, they excel in collaboration with industry and opportunity for discovery.

York University

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York university is Canada's fourth largest university. Situated in the thriving metropolis of Toronto, York is one o Ontario's major research facilities and a hotspot for internationals looking to expand their horizons.

York has several well-run facilities to cater to their over 5 000 international students. These include the Global Peer Program, which pairs newcomers with upper-year students called Peer Mentors to help them acclimate to York university and Toronto in general. On top of this, they have their own Mitacs Global Link Internship programs, which help students get internships into chosen careers and provide them with sufficient credits to gain a Canadian work permit.

York Univesity is highly inclusive to internationals, as shown by B. Sc. Applied Mathematics student Priyali Neil:

"I joined this college as it is empowered by a welcoming and diverse community with a uniquely global perspective. They are preparing us for their long-term career and personal success. Together they are making things right for the communities and the future."

With so many excellent opportunities at York, it's impossible to fit them all in here. Instead, look at this page for a full breakdown of life at York University.

University of Regina (U of R)

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As the premier public university of Saskatchewan, U of R presents an incredibly supportive, caring environment, combined with a world-class education, making it a perfect starting point for internationals.

The university provides a wide array of programs for its international base. 

This includes English Coaching, Study assistance, one-on-one support and numerous workshops throughout the academic year to provide students with the tools they need to succeed in Canada.

University of Regina's international students is known to rave about the inclusive nature of the school, such as B. Ed. student Hetan Sethi, who says:

"(U of R) has a great international program, and the community is diverse and accepting. The school also has a unique UR Guarantee program that gives eligible students a free semester of classes if they don't get career-related employment six months after graduation."

University of Toronto (U of T)

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The largest and widely regarded as one of Canada's best universities for international students, U of T is currently ranked as the 20th university in the world, according to the World Report. With a global student base of 27 130, U of T is also the primary hotspot for international students. This is due to the prestige of the university and the fact that it is Canada's primary entrepreneur university, with over 500 startups created by U of T alums.

As it is such a massive university, U of T has an enormous array of facilities for internationals. This includes their Global Skills Development program, designed to help students prepare for career opportunities. On top of this, U of T has services to help students with learning English, orientation, building connections, handling homesickness and acclimating to Canadian culture, among others.

For a full breakdown of the U of T experience as an international, look at this article.

FAQs

Do you need a student visa to study at a public university?

Yes. All international students studying in Canada need a student visa. To find out how to get yours, look at this article or click the button below to have an RCIC help you reach yours as soon as possible.

These are great, but what are the best colleges in Canada?

For a full breakdown of Canada's best colleges for international students, look at this article.

What can I expect from student life in Canada?

This will always depend on the school you choose to study in and the area in which the school is based. However, for a general idea of what student life in Canada is like, look at this breakdown.

Can I get a scholarship to one of these universities?

Canadian universities offer a wide array of scholarships, even ones geared explicitly to international students. For a full breakdown of how to get scholarships in Canada, look at this article.

Start Your Journey to Canada

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Now that you know the top 10 public universities in Canada, it's time to get started on your journey. If you'd like to know your eligibility to study in Canada or help with your application and moving process, click the button below to talk to an RCIC who can evaluate you and guide you through your next step.