Where should I study and work abroad - Australia or Canada?

9 months ago

With the two countries offering quality education and a competitive future for their graduates, where should international students go to study and work? Let’s dig deeper into why these two become the top choices of international students.

Australia and Canada are two of the most popular education destinations in recent years. A steady increase of international students who choose to study in Australia and Canada can be observed since 2015. Although these numbers were dampened by the effects of the global pandemic, 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 is showing a healthy increase again of students in Canada and Australia as the health protocols and border restrictions start to lessen.

With the two countries offering quality education and a competitive future for their graduates, where should international students go to study and work? Let us dig deeper into why these two become the top choices of international students.

Study in Australia

Australia has recently reopened its borders to international students last December 2021 since the pandemic started in March 2020. The country is now welcoming back fully vaccinated international students to Australian states and territories.

Demographics and geography

Known as the “Land Down Under”, Australia is situated below the equator. It is uniquely classified as a continent, an island, and a country. The rich wildlife and the great outdoors have made the country known globally. Blessed with four seasons, the country offers its residents and visitors pleasant experiences all throughout the year. The winters are not extreme, and the summers are enjoyable with their beautiful beaches. The relaxed lifestyle of Australians gives students the relief they badly need from studying and maybe even working while studying during their stay in Australia.

Cost of living

Planning your finances before traveling to Australia to study is an essential task. An annual estimate of the cost of living as of 2019 for students is AUD 21,041. According to the Study Australia, accommodations range from hostels and guesthouses at AUD380 monthly to boarding schools at AUD11,000 to AUD22,000 annually.

Weekly budget for the following living expenses can give you an idea of the cost of living and studying in Australia:

  • Food budget can start from AUD140
  • Utilities can range from AUD10-AUD20
  • Transportation can be budgeted at AUD30-AUD60
  • Phone and internet can cost from $15-AUD30

Scholarship opportunities

There are lots of scholarship options that international students can avail of depending on the level of their program, the school they are applying for, and their academic performance. Other factors may also be considered to qualify for some of the programs.

Entrance scholarships for international students are quite common for most universities and colleges in Australia. Enquiring about the details and requirements directly to the school administrator could help you secure, apply, and qualify accordingly. These scholarships commonly range from AUD1,000 up to AUD10,000.

One of the most reputable and in-demand universities in Australia - the University of Sydney - offers a scholarship for international students. The Vice-Chancellor International Scholarships scheme offers an award value of AUD40,000 to be released in installments of AUD20,000, AUD10,000 and AUD5,000 accordingly. This scholarship is offered to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Work and study opportunities

Under normal circumstances, both Canadian and Australian student visas are very similar including the limit of students to work for 20 hours only weekly. However, with the recent economic impact caused by Covid-19, the Australian government has lifted this restriction on student visa holders and are now being allowed to work with no restriction applied to the number of working hours. Although this may be a temporary situation, this puts an advantage on Australia over Canada’s existing student visa policy.

Student visa approval rates

According to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, the approval rate of international students who applied for a student visa from countries outside of Australia and was processed between the April-June 2021 is 80.5%. Meanwhile, student visa applications that were made within Australia for the same period are at 99.7%

Study in Canada

At the start of this year, the government of Canada has given an overview of its plan for immigration for 2022-2024 - a plan that promises a brighter future and more immigration pathways for international students and other temporary residents in Canada. This immigration mandate gives more reason why international students study in Canada.

Demographics and geography

Canada has been favored by immigrants worldwide over the last decade because of its attractive immigration pathways and benefits for its residents. The aging population of the country has driven the call for immigrants to drive its economic health. There are three major cities where immigrants are highly concentrated: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

The most popular immigration program, Express Entry, attracts skilled workers and is located in provinces where their skills are most needed. One of the components of this program is Canadian education. This opens opportunities for international students who wish to stay in the country after they are done studying in Canada.

Canada’s aging population increases the demand for well-educated individuals. That need tied with the opportunities of immigration makes Canada an ideal prospect for international students who would like to explore the possibility of permanent residence in the country.


Cost of living

A student is required to present the capacity to financially support his or her stay while studying in Canada. The proof of fund requirement by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to a year’s cost of living is at CAD 10,000 if the student intends to attend a university outside Quebec; and CAD 6,569 for students applying to attend a school within Quebec.

Scholarship opportunities

Like Australia, Canada’s educational institutions offer a wide range of scholarships for international students depending on the program and level of studies. Entrance scholarships are common among universities. There are also country-specific scholarships. To avail of these, students need to contact the institutions they are applying for to know about the details and eligibility requirements.

The government of Canada also offers scholarships to international students. The Global Affairs Canada (GAC) offers several funded scholarships and exchange programs for international students coming from Africa, the Americas (outside the US), China, the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States. The programs vary from undergraduate up to postdoctoral degrees and are eligible for the post-graduation work permit.

Work and study opportunities

Some international students’ reason why they study in Canada is the ability to work while studying and the possibility of securing a work permit after graduation through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.

International students who study in Canada can work for 20 hours weekly during regular terms and can exceed this limitation during scheduled breaks (i.e. Summer Break, Reading Break, etc.). The scheduled break needs to be part of the university’s calendar or academic policy. Students need to coordinate with the school representative to know more about the school’s academic breaks.

If the university or college is a Designated Learning Institution, international students can apply for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) upon completion of their program. Once the PGWP is approved, the student will be allowed to work full-time at any employer, anywhere in Canada. The length of the PGWP validity will depend on the length of the program that the international student completed.

Student visa approval rates

The global pandemic has impacted a lot of education destinations with the borders closing and health restrictions implemented. The decrease in manpower and the closure of several immigration offices impeded the normal processing time of study permit applications. The high costs of airfare and the uncertainty of employment also deterred some of the international students from pursuing studies in Canada. A decrease in the number of students is observed in 2020 and 2021. The approval rate in 2020 when the pandemic was at its first peak was 49% from the average 58% annually. The first quarter of 2021 shows that the approval rate climbed up to 64%.

Australia and Canada offer very similar privileges to international students. Both offer benefits in different aspects such as immigration or the ability to work while studying. Nevertheless, international students need to weigh their priorities and non-negotiable considerations in choosing which country to study and work in. The answer to why they want to study in Canada or Australia will be a big factor in their decision-making and will impact their future immensely. This is not an easy task for most students.

Global Study Guide can assist you to find the best-fitting university or school that would fit your lifestyle and answer your whys. Create an account now for a free consultation with GSG’s professional education consultants.

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