The United Nations ranked Canada as fourth on its Human Development Index for 2007-2008. The country’s education system, health care sector, quality of life, tolerance, and cultural recreation facilities are all of an exceptional quality. The education system in Canada involves both public and private funded institutions, including community colleges, language schools, primary and secondary schools, universities and colleges.
Education in Canada is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution, which means there are significant differences between the education systems in the different provinces. However, Canada is the only country in the developed world that spends more on education, and levels of quality and facilities are uniform and significantly high throughout the country.
In Canada, children typically attend kindergarten for one or two years when they are at the age of four or five voluntarily, as all children begin grade one at the age of six. The school year normally runs from September through to the following June, although in some cases January intakes are also possible.
Secondary school education goes up to grade 11 or 12 depending on the province. From there, students can then attend University or colleges. At this point, the province of Quebec uses the Cegep (a French acronym for College of General and Vocational Education) system, whereby students go through vocational training for one to two years between high school and university.
The public funding for education comes either directly from the provincial or territorial government or through a combination of provincial transfers and local taxes collected either by the local government or by tax authorities. Provincial and territorial regulations, which are reviewed annually, provide the structure for grants that determine the level of funding for each school, by considering factors such as location, the number of students, and other special needs.
The tuition costs for universities have averaged CAD $4,500 since 2008, with international student fees for undergraduate programs averaging about CAD $11,000 annually. At all the colleges and institutes in all the provinces apart from those in Quebec, the average tuition fee was about CAD $2,400 (Quebec residents do not pay for college tuition). Students are also able to pay for tuition through government grants, loans, and other education tax credits. Canada offers the lowest tuition rates for international students compared to the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US.
Canadian universities offer more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as professional degree programs and certificates. Many of the institutions provide instructions in either English or French while others offer instructions in both official languages. In the year 2005, Canadian universities employed nearly 40,000 full-time faculty members.
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