US and Canada - HE compared?
July 20, 2010 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone advise me on some specific comparisons between the US and Canadian University systems? I am in charge of internationalisation at a British University and we would like to investigate establishing academic partnerships and indeed possibly some direct recruitment in both countries. While we are roughly clear on how the US system operates, Canada is a bit harder to grasp.

So am I right and in Canada the great majority of Universities are publicly funded and managed at the province level? That means that Canadian students tend to study "in province" just as Americans tend to study in state because the costs are subsidised. Can Canadians take the financial assistance on offer and use it to study overseas, either for part of or for their entire degree? I think it is the case that financial assistance for study overseas is possible in the US system via the Federal Loans system - but for an entire degree or just part? For that matter, do many Canadians choose to take their degrees overseas (not across the border), eg in Europe?

Coming from little Britain, we also are a bit puzzled about how to recruit students in a continental setting - are there Recruitment Fairs in the US and Canada and are they any use to overseas institutions? Is this more so in Canada than in the US perhaps? I have a sense that the urban centres in Canada provide a locus for these sorts of events, but is that true in the US too? Put simply, would it be a waste of money for us to sent our recruitment staff to a US Recruitment Fair? Or should we target specific Fairs, say in the mid-West? I am also led to understand that there are no "agencies" available in the US or Canada (eg we recruit in China via Agents who visit schools and take part in events such as Fairs on our behalf.) Is this so?
posted by A189Nut to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
While you're waiting for a response from somebody who actually knows about this, allow me to weigh in with my limited and outdated info.

When I went to McGill in Montreal (1986-91), tuition was substantially lower for residents of Quebec than it was for others. But, as an alum, I can also attest to their need for private funding, since they are forever and creatively trying to entice me to give them money.

I don't recall any tuition subsidies being available at the provincial level. Me, I used (and appreciated) the federal student loan program.

I wasn't interested in overseas study, and never attended a job fair, so I can't offer comment on those and other aspects of your question.

posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:29 PM on July 20, 2010

So am I right and in Canada the great majority of Universities are publicly funded and managed at the province level? That means that Canadian students tend to study "in province" just as Americans tend to study in state because the costs are subsidised.

Yes and no.

Yes, a lot of the funding for Canadian universities comes from the provinces.

No, most provinces (with the exception of Quebec or at least McGill) charge the same rate to all Canadian students regardless of their home province.

Hopefully someone else will be able to fill in the details.
posted by ripley_ at 4:34 PM on July 20, 2010

-Education in Canada is a provincial mandate. There is no national department or ministry of education.

-Most universities cost roughly the same across the country. There are exceptions, such as Quebec where it's cheaper for those students who come from the province (I could be wrong on this, I've been out of school for a while now) and Newfoundland and Labrador where there is/was a tuition freeze. Aside from that, it's more or less the same. There is no Ivy League in Canada with $30,000 per year tuition and no state vs. private schools like in the US.

-I had one or two friends who studied in Europe, but that was only for a yearlong exchange. I don't know anyone who went there to do a full undergraduate degree. Graduate school is a different story, but for undergrads I think that there is a complete lack of exposure as to opportunities for study abroad.

-I was fortunate enough not to need student loans for my schooling, but as far as I understand it a loan can be used for study overseas.

-The Canadian government has an international recruitment campaign to attract students from overseas to study in Canada with the hope that they'll choose to remain here after graduation. This is done through the Department of Foreign Affairs' Trade Commissioner Service. Perhaps there is something similar in the UK? It would be worth looking into.
posted by fso at 4:54 PM on July 20, 2010

Here's a page on International Students on the website of the Associaton of Colleges and Universities of Canada. Here's a presentation on Quebec's universities. There's also the Association of Atlantic Universities, the Council on Ontario Universities and the Research Universities' Council of British Columbia (broken website).

Most people in Quebec speak French, so kids mostly go to one of the province's school, one of the French-speaking/bilingual institutions outside of Quebec (University of Moncton, University of Ottawa, Laurentian University, CUFB, there may be others), or in a European French-speaking country.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:58 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Just a clarification - I am interested in whether Canadian students might study in the UK, not vice versa.
posted by A189Nut at 5:00 PM on July 20, 2010

The Canadian system is still almost entirely state based. Tuition is usually under £3000/ year, and many students in larger cities (like Toronto) will live at home to save money rather than pay for residence. They could take their loans (there are no grants) with them, but UK overseas tuition (sometimes around £10,000) is far higher than Canadian tuition. I can't see many Canadian students being willing to pay overseas rates -- you'd be recruiting only a priviledged few. You could advertise at expensive private schools.

I have direct experience with all three (canadian, uk, USA) systems -- I could tell you more if I knew more about your program (what degree level, etc). Please feel free to memail me.
posted by jb at 5:45 PM on July 20, 2010

Oh -- to clarify: the only assistance available to most Canadian undergrads are subsidized loans. They can borrow money to study in foreign universities, but would still owe the full amount of the tuition charged by the overseas institution, and have to pay that back. If you wanted Canadian students to come to your university at the same price they would pay in Canada, you would have to arrange for them to be charged EU fees (if that is even legal).

Grad students have other sources of government funding -- but that's for living expenses.

There is no way for a Canadian to take the money a Canadian university would receive for them to an overseas university. Like the UK, funding is linked to enrollment, but a lump sum.

In fact, while there are significant curricular differences between the UK and Canada, the university funding system is very similar -- only we have never had gov't grants, only not-very subsidized loans.
posted by jb at 5:57 PM on July 20, 2010

Of course, jb meant "Ontario" when she wrote "Canada"; Quebec has had "bursaries" since the 1960s: basically, they assess the student's needs (tuition+books+living expenses - [parental contribution + student contribution]), and give loans up to a point. If you need more, you get bursaries (grants) for the rest.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:40 PM on July 20, 2010

Oh, grad students could get scholarships.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2010

Some graduate students are funded by NSERC (science and engineering), SSHRC (social sciences and humanities) and another one (health) which is a federally funded program for top students. It's personal funding and doesn't include research funds. Some of these (the ones that give you less money) can be used internationally but a student would probably need a tuition waver at a non-Canadian university.

Grad students at Canadian universities may or may not get a tuition waver and several students at my school, including me for portions of my degree, were unfunded. That meant that we had to pay for school with a private bank or public student loan. These would probably not be sufficient to cover expenses at a international school.

Canadians generally don't tend to take degrees over any border. It is much much more expensive to go to school as an international student than as a Canadian. For example, my grad school in the U.S. costs ~$2100 per year (and that's with ~$35,000/year tuition waiver) while in Canada I paid ~$1600 per year and that included tuition.

I have never heard of recruitment fairs in Canada but they may happen at school like U. Toronto, Waterloo, UBC. I went to medium-sized but 'remote' schools so I could see recruiters not going to the effort. Actually, now that I think about it, engineering students were definitely recruited both places so it might have more to do with my field not recruiting.

And as mentioned above, because universities are generally cheap (although my province had the highest tuition, and over 10 universities) and there are no "in-province" tuition differences (except Quebec), Canadian students are actually very flexible about where they go to school. Some stay home to save on living expenses, some move to the other side of the country and their parents fly them home at Christmas. There is a range of different universities so if you want a small under-grad focused school in a small town or a large big-city school you can find them. They vary but they are all publically funded and the variation is much less than in the US.

If you have a specific field that you're trying to recruit, I could probably offer more information about what schools might be likely targets.

Oh and Memorial University of Newfoundland has a campus in the UK (Harlow?). That might be a place to look for students to recruit.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:41 AM on July 21, 2010

Monday -- yes, Ontario has bursaries as well, but when I said "grants", I was saying that Canadians don't have anything like the British grant system which in the 1960s and 70s paid fees and living expenses for a lot of working & lower-middle class undergraduate students, and they had no loans. The Brits don't have this system anymore either, but more senior people in universities today benefitted from it.

I don't know the Quebec system well, but do you think that the province would be willing to transfer the $$$ it gives Qubecquois universities for each student to a foreign university? back in 2000 in Ontario, this was abt $20,000 CND a year. But there was certainly never a chance of it leaving the province (thus higher out of province fees in BC and Quebec), let alone the country.
posted by jb at 8:34 AM on July 21, 2010

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