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Students say Canada offers more flexible degrees than the U.K.
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Students say Canada offers more flexible degrees than the U.K.

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Dec 1, 2021
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4 Mins
a university building situated in Canada

Sophie Boehler, a product of Britain's elite private school system, was groomed to pursue the prestige of an Oxford University or Cambridge University education.

When she was denied admission to another UK university, the 20-year-old Londoner looked further afield to Montreal's McGill University.

In retrospect, she says it was the best place she could have ended up.

"I wanted to use university as a springboard to trying out different things, and that was just something I didn't see as an option in the U.K.," Boehler said, noting it might not have been possible to get the course combinations she was looking for.

"The more I looked at it, the more I wanted an adventure and a completely new system, and Canada seemed so cool."

Boehler is part of a growing trend of British students studying at Canadian universities because of lower fees, a more comprehensive range of courses and degree options, and greater flexibility. Simultaneously, admissions to the United Kingdom's elite universities have become more competitive as they welcome more students from public schools.

Related article; MBA in UK vs Canada- Which is the Best Abroad MBA Destination?

The United Kingdom has long been a popular destination for Canadian students, but the tide is turning. According to data from Universities Canada and the Canadian government, after steadily increasing for a few years, the number of new students from the United Kingdom enrolled at Canadian universities increased by nearly 10% in 2019, to almost 2,500.

The increase in enrolment from the United Kingdom may appear modest compared to the tens of thousands of students accepted from India and China. Still, it represents a breakthrough for the Canadian system.

Perception has changed


Just over a decade ago, Canada was barely on the radar for British students contemplating a path to academic success. But those who help facilitate study abroad on both sides of the Atlantic say the interest in Canadian universities of late has been extraordinary.

"There has been serious growth," said Anthony Nemecek, an education advisor based in London who is hired by students and U.K. secondary schools to provide them with information on university opportunities abroad. 

Also read; Study in Canada: 5 best cities in Canada for abroad studies

He claims that there has been a significant shift in how British students and teachers view a foreign degree. The British regard their schools — which are frequently ranked among the most prestigious in the world — as top tier and the idea of studying abroad was not seen as particularly beneficial. Furthermore, many undergraduate programmes in the United Kingdom are three years long instead of four years in Canada.

"When I would contact some schools and say, 'I'm available to give a talk about U.S. and Canadian higher education,' they would slam the phone down," said Nemecek.

Nemecek said these days, American universities — especially prestigious Ivy League schools — are still the top choice for U.K. students looking to study abroad but that Canadian institutions are now competitive. He said that students are attracted by lower international schools fees, a wide variety of courses, and unique degree combinations.    Canada is also becoming known for its natural resource programs, such as mining and geology, Nemecek said.

Increased competition in the U.K.


Increased competition for admission into Oxford and Cambridge may also be playing a role in boosting Canada's attractiveness.

Both elite universities have traditionally focused heavily on recruiting from British private schools. Still, in recent years, they have begun to draw more students from publicly funded schools as well, making admission even more difficult.

According to the university, 42% of Oxford entrants in 2016 came from private schools in the United Kingdom. By 2020, that figure would have fallen to 30%.

Boehler realised a more tailored degree programme in Canada was ultimately the best choice for her after a painful rejection from one of Britain's elite universities. She graduated from Westminster School, one of London's top private high schools, with honours. Even so, she couldn't get into Cambridge.

Chinmayee Rout completed her graduation from Delhi, pursuing her goals of being a passionate reader and writer. She has worked with ET and PTI and many big agencies. Being a Delhiite, she’s fond of hopping food stalls and travelling to new places. She connects with the world through her writingsChinmayee Rout
Journalist

Chinmayee Rout completed her graduation from Delhi, pursuing her goals of being a passionate reader and writer. She has worked with ET and PTI and many big agencies. Being a Delhiite, she’s fond of hopping food stalls and travelling to new places. She connects with the world through her writings

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