Student Life: Studying in Canada vs Australia
October 31, 2023
Reviewed By: David Allon
Canada and Australia are some of the top destinations in the world for international students. Both countries have sought to reinforce their reputations as educational forces in the world by making their education systems as adaptive to international students' needs as possible.
Therefore, when presented with the choice, many international students to varying degrees find it difficult to choose which country to invest their studying efforts in.
Curious about which country suits international students better? Here is a comparison of the differences between studying in Canada vs. Australia!
Canadas and Australia’s University Education Systems
Universities in Canada
Canada’s education system has 96 public universities offering approximately 15,000 certified higher education study programs. Many of these universities emphasize research-driven education, encouraging students to explore new ideas and contribute to the advancement of knowledge.
The country invests significantly in research and development (about 1, 6978% of Canada’s gross domestic product according to Trading Economics), providing students with state-of-the-art facilities and resources. This focus on research equips students with critical thinking and problem-solving skills, making them highly sought-after by local and global employers.
Universities in Australia
Australia’s education system provides 43 universities categorized into 40 Australian universities, one private specialty university, and two international universities. International students can be assured about the high pedigree of Australia’s educational qualifications through the country’s solid quality control system and government accreditation.
Australian universities focus on practical learning and hands-on experiences, equipping students with the necessary skills for the job market.
Top Ranked Universities
The table below presents a list of universities in Canada and Australia ranked in the top 100 of Times Higher Education’s most recent World University Rankings.
|Universities||Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking||Country|
|University of Toronto||18||Canada|
|University of Melbourne||34||Australia|
|University of British Columbia||40||Canada|
|University of Queensland||53||Australia|
|University of Sydney||54||Australia|
|Australian National University||62||Australia|
|University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney||71||Australia|
Student Cost of Living
One crucial aspect to consider when studying abroad is the cost of living. The cost of living for students in both Canada and Australia can be broken down as follows:
Canada’s university costs vary from province to province for university fees and day-to-day expenses, so you should weigh up a few options before settling on your final choice. According to Educanada international students in Canada can expect the following study costs:
|Type of Expense||Tution Fees (CAD)|
|Average Living Costs per year for a single international||15,000|
Australia is one of the most expensive common study destinations for international students. Tuition fees vary according to the university's location in Australia, so one must factor this in when looking at studying in Australia. According to Times Higher Education, the cost of studying in Australia is as follows:
|Type of Expense||Tuition Fees (CAD)|
|Undergraduate programs||17,290.49 > 38,903.61|
|Postgraduate programs||19,024.73 > 43 235,84|
|Average Living Costs per year for a single international student||18 193,93|
Finding suitable accommodation is another important consideration for students studying abroad. Canadian universities offer various options for student accommodation, including on-campus residences and off-campus housing.
The benefits of living on campus as an international student include
- Easy access to the library and other campus facilities,
- Less or no need for transportation (eliminating transportation costs),
- Greater opportunities to socialize, and
- Smoother transition to living as an international student.
Some of the benefits of living off-campus as an international student include:
- Better privacy,
- Greater freedom of movement, and
- More integration into Canadian society.
Living on campus in Canada is generally easier than finding your housing off campus. Living on campus costs often include adding a meal plan so you can eat meals on campus.
You can determine the cost of living on campus when you register at your university since universities in Canada offer varied accommodation costs.
The rental price for living off-campus may be lower than on-campus prices. However, should you choose to live off campus, you must pay for additional items such as utilities and furnishings.
In Australia, universities also offer on-campus accommodation options, which range from halls of residence to apartments. Some Australian student accommodation on Campus delivers food, while most have a kitchen where students can cook meals.
Similar to Canada, on-campus housing for international students in Australia can be limited.
Rent for off-campus accommodation in Australia can be significantly cheaper. The pros and cons of living off-campus in Australia revolve around social integration and getting acquainted with Australia’s national culture.
The table below presents a list of accommodation costs for international students planning to live off-campus in Canada or Australia.
|Type of Accommodation||Cost in Canada (CAD)||Cost in Australia (CAD)|
|One Bedroom Apartment Inside the City||1 473,62||1 998,14|
|One Bedroom Apartment Outside the City||1 272,58||1 596,21|
Transportation is an essential aspect to consider when studying abroad, as it affects the overall convenience and accessibility of the university and surrounding areas. Canadian cities typically have well-developed public transportation systems, including buses, trains, and subways.
Australia is also equipped with efficient public transportation systems in major cities, with buses, trains, and trams. Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Australia, with dedicated cycling lanes available in many cities. This helps to offset many public transportation costs for students.
Average Transport Costs for Students in Canada vs Australia
|Public Transport (Monthly pass)||100 CAD||149.29 CAD|
|Gas (per liter)||1.63 CAD||1.73 CAD|
Engaging in campus life is an integral part of the overall university experience. Both Canada and Australia offer vibrant campus communities with numerous opportunities for students to get involved in extracurricular activities, clubs, and societies.
Student Support Services
Universities in Canada prioritize providing valuable and personable international student support services. These services include the following:
- Academic advising
- Career services
- Health services
You can access international student services via the on-campus office dedicated to providing these services.
Australian universities ensure international students have guidance and support throughout their academic journey, enabling them to integrate into Australian society. These services include the following:
- An International Student Hotline
- Advice and Information for pre-departure and arrival
- Study preparation programs and orientation
- Academic and English language skills assistance
- Advice and information for returning home
Participating in extracurricular activities allows students to develop new skills, pursue their interests, and build a strong social network. Both Canadian and Australian universities offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including:
- Sports teams
- Student clubs
- Cultural clubs
- Volunteer opportunities
Australia’s unique climate and topography enable many of their universities to provide extracurricular activities involving outdoor adventure groups and explorative trail walks in the Australian outback.
Learn more about Extracurricular Activities in Canada.
Universities in both Canada and Australia understand the importance of recreational and entertainment opportunities for students. Campus facilities often include:
- Fitness centers
- Sports fields
- On-campus student lounges
Additionally, universities organize various events, concerts, and festivals dedicated to the arts, music, and film throughout the year, creating a vibrant and engaging campus environment.
International students in Canada must take out health insurance. Certain Canadian provinces offer international students health insurance via their provincial plans to offset health costs.
International students without provincial health coverage and a university health insurance plan can apply for a basic health insurance plan that covers hospital stays, medication, and dental needs. Recommended healthcare plans for international students in Canada include:
In Australia, international students are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which provides coverage for:
- Doctor Visits
- Hospital treatment
- Ambulance cover
- Limited pharmaceuticals
OSHC is mandatory for the duration of the student visa and must be obtained before arriving in Australia.
Canada’s more accessible flight access to other countries generally makes it a more popular and viable study destination than Australia as many international students find the country down under too far.
However, Australia's sunny climate and coastlines filled with gleaming beaches may be preferable for those searching for surf or just avoiding Canada’s frigid weather.
Yes, as an international student, you can work part-time in both Canada and Australia. The specific regulations and conditions for student work vary between the two countries.
You can work part-time during school terms for up to 20 hours per week maximum and full-time during scheduled semester holiday breaks. The minimum hourly pay is 16.99 CAD, according to the Canadian government. On-campus student work is allowed.
International students are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight and unlimited hours during holidays. The minimum hourly pay is 18.52 CAD, according to Study International. Students pursuing a master's or doctoral degree have no restrictions on work hours. You can also work on campus as a student.
Study Permits and Visas
You have to apply for a Canadian student permit to study in Canada. Learn how to apply for a study permit in Canada:
Study permits for international students in Canada are usually valid for your program’s duration, plus 90 days. The extra 90 days allow you to:
- Prepare to exit the country, and
- Apply to extend your study permit.
International students in Quebec must attend a designated learning institution chosen by the Government of Quebec.
Find out how to study in Canada without a study permit.
If you want to study in Australia, you must apply for an Australian student visa from the Australian Department of Home Affairs. An Australian student visa allows you to:
- Stay in Canada for up to 5 years and in line with your enrolment
- Enrol and participate in an eligible course of study in Australia
- Travel in and out of the country
- Work as a student up to 48 hours a fortnight when your course of study is in session
If you’re curious about your prospects of working in Canada or Australia after graduation, you can use the following programs to do so.
After completing their studies, many international students desire to gain work experience in the country they studied in. Canada offers a unique opportunity called the Postgraduate Work Permit (PGWP) that allows eligible international graduates to work in Canada for up to three years. The PGWP provides valuable work experience in the Canadian job market and can also be a pathway to permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class.
Find out more about Canada’s Postgraduate Work Permit.
Australia also offers post-study work visa options for international graduates. The Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) allows eligible graduates to work in Australia for a specific period, depending on the level of qualification completed. This visa provides an opportunity to gain work experience and explore career opportunities in Australia.
Pros and Cons of Studying in Canada and Australia
|Better access to international flights to Canada||Frigid Climate in certain regions may be a deterrent for many students|
|Universal access to healthcare||Students with no provincial health plan have to pay for their health insurance cover|
|More affordable off-campus accommodation costs||May have to pay for your own off campus apartment furnishings|
|Easily accessible on-campus student support services||No comprehensive planning services for social integration into Canada|
|Beautiful, sunny weather with abundant beachfronts||Very distant and not so easily accessible flight to Australia|
|Health insurance provision via the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)||No viable healthcare coverage for international besides the OSHC|
|Varied and suitable off campus accomodation||Off campus accommodation more expensive than Canada's|
|Pre planning student support services with social integration assistance||Limited on campus support for international students|
What can I do to get my Study Permit Faster?
To expedite the study permit process, it is essential to ensure that all required documents are complete and submitted accurately. It is recommended to apply well in advance and follow the guidelines provided by the respective immigration authorities. Seeking assistance from educational consultants or immigration lawyers can also be beneficial in navigating the study permit application process.
Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS). Most SDS applications can be processed within 20 calendar days.
What are the Main Differences Between the Education Systems in Canada and Australia?
Canada's education system is governed by provinces, while Australia follows the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
Both countries have a standard admission requirement for international students.