Canada vs Australia for International Students

By StudyLink

Germany v Canada

Canada and Australia represent two of the world’s top five study destinations for international students today.

Interestingly, both countries have become home to an increasingly large number of international students in the past few years and today, both countries welcome over 500,000 international students from all cultures and nationalities every year!

While international students may think that countries such as the USA and the United Kingdom must have the largest international student populations, both Canada and Australia welcome just as many international students every year as the two student-favourites.

Over the next twenty years, both Canada and Australia are expected to become two of the world’s top international student destinations.

Studying in Canada for International Students

With a population of about 40 million residents, Canada is a major global hub for industries such as trade and energy. Three Canadian cities – Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver – feature in the top 10 of The Economist’s 2022 Global Liveability Index, proof of Canada being a highly-developed and modern country for residents.

Canada welcomes over 150,000 Indian immigrants every year, and is well-known as an immigrant-friendly student destination with excellent support services and resources for international students in every major Canadian city.

Canada offers 27 universities in the latest QS Global University Rankings. Canadian universities have gained world-leading reputations for their advanced research and academic facilities, top-quality faculty and excellent campus life, whether on urban campuses or in rural regions.

Canada offers you long-term post-graduation employment visas, a big attraction for many international students who would like to settle in the North American country and secure jobs at world-leadings firms. This is one of the major reasons why Canada has seen its international student population nearly triple in the last ten years alone!

Studying in Australia for International Students

Situated in the southern hemisphere and with a total population of about 25 million residents, Australia offers both world-class city life as well as excellent outdoor experiences and healthy living.

Australia has become a tourist and student-favourite destination in recent years because of its high-quality educational infrastructure, well-connected transport, excellent living standards and world-class cities full of vibrant outdoors and entertainment activities.

Major Australian cities including Melbourne received a score of 100/100 from QS Global University Rankings for tolerance and social inclusion which indicates the high levels of comfort and safety for international students in Australia.

Australia also offers a strong sporting culture and plenty of opportunities to explore the Australian countryside and the ocean. International students at Australian universities can remain healthy through outdoor activities and exercise, and explore exciting natural landmarks during their time away from the classroom. Australia is well-known for its relaxed culture and vibrant entertainment venues in every major Australian city.

Australia is home to 38 universities featured in the 2022 QS Global University Rankings, with five universities including the University of Sydney and Australian National University in the global top 50.

Australia’s top universities are also highly rated for the social impact of their research projects according to QS, which appeals to international students interested in scientific research alongside academic degree programmes.

Australia also offers a specialised set of degrees via institutions known as TAFEs (Technical and Further Education). These degrees give you vocational expertise and allow international students to secure valuable internship experiences with top employers across industries in Australia. In Australia, all undergraduate programmes last three years.

As we now know, both Canada and Australia offer world-class cities with large-scale and welcoming immigrant communities for international students. Both countries are well-known for their relaxed work culture alongside their large-scale industries in multiple sectors which offer tens of thousands of new jobs to college graduates every year.

Just as importantly for international students, the large number of universities and research institutes in both countries means you will surely find the ideal college or university for your particular personality and degree programme in both Australia and Canada.

But what are the key differences between the two countries when it comes to degree programmes for international students?

Key Differences Between Canada & Australia for International Students

Tuition & Living Expenses

When it comes to tuition expenses for international students across degree levels at universities, Canada is a far more affordable choice than Australia in most cases. Average undergraduate tuition fees in Canada range between 11,000-16,000 US Dollars per annum for international students, whereas postgraduate tuition fees are slightly more expensive between 14,000-20,000 US Dollars per year.

In contrast, international students may have to pay up to 25,000 US Dollars per year at Australian universities, and up to 32,000 US Dollars per annum for postgraduate degree programmes. PhD degree programmes are also far more affordable for international students in Canada than in Australia, whereas MBA degree programmes in Canada are usually half the price of similarly top-ranked MBA programmes in Australia.

When it comes to average living costs in both countries for international students, Canada again offers a far more affordable living budget than Australia. Whereas the average living cost in Canada is usually between 800-1,000 US Dollars per month, international students in Australia generally rack up expenses of up to 1,200 US Dollars per month.

As both Canada and Australia offer world-class lifestyles, public transport and public safety, living expenses in Canada seem excellent value for money for international students. This is also the case with the visa application fees for both countries. While international students must pay a visa application fee of 110 US Dollars for a Canadian Visa, student visa applications to Australia cost at least 400 US Dollars.

Post-Graduation Employment Opportunities

In terms of the job market and opportunities to secure world-class placements for international students, both Canada and Australia offer excellent employment chances for you after graduation at a university.

But there are slight differences you should take note of. For example, the Canadian Government recently announced that until the end of 2023, international students can work unlimited hours alongside your degree programme during the semester. This helps you gain valuable work experience alongside your top-ranked degree and can make you stand out when applying for jobs. In Australia, meanwhile, you can work for up to 20 hours every week during the semester.

As for post-graduation employment, Australia offers international students a Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa that allows you to stay and work in Australia for a period between 18 months and 4 years, depending on your qualification.

In Canada, international students receive a Post-Graduate Work Visa within 90 days of graduation that enables you to work at world-class Canadian firms for a period of at least three years.

Major industries with high-paying jobs in Australia include engineering, hospitality, nursing, medicine, finance, and law. An added benefit of top-ranked Australian universities for international students is that most of them organise student placement events to help you secure a job after graduation.

In Canada, you will need to search and locate ideal jobs by yourself after graduation. Major Canadian sectors and industries include media, teaching, industrial design and metallurgy.

Permanent Residency Options for International Students

Another key reason why international students decide to study at top-ranked Canadian and Australian universities is in order to emigrate to the countries and settle there after graduation. In this aspect, Canada provides a relatively straightforward and simple process for international students to acquire Permanent Residency (PR) status, while in Australia the process for getting a PR is slightly longer and more complicated. In Canada, a country with a shortage of highly skilled workers at the moment, you can apply for PR if you currently have a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).

In recent years, Canada has become very lenient in assessing PR applications and as an international student from a top-ranked Canadian university, you will have excellent chances of receiving PR. Applications for PR from Indian students, for example, have been accepted in record numbers in recent years. 

By contrast, applications for a Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) are Australia’s version of a PR. Australia requires far more assessments from international students in order to grant PR, and their points system for awarding PR means that it usually takes far more time to be awarded PR in Australia than in Canada. The most successful method of applying for PR in Australia is to apply for an Employer Sponsored Visa, which you can do after working for three years in Australia after graduation.


Last but not least, international students should take note of the major differences in climate between Australia and Canada. The climate and weather conditions can have a major impact on your mental and physical health while you pursue a degree programme, so you should carefully consider the climate conditions in any country before you apply to study at its universities.

In most Australian cities, known for their sunny beaches and pleasant coastal climate, the average year-long temperature ranges between 25-32 degrees celsius. By contrast, Canada is known as one of the world’s coldest countries and its average temperature exceeds -5 degrees celsius! You can expect at least five to seven months of heavy snowfall in most parts of Canada, especially the cities in the east such as Toronto and Ottawa.

If the cold winters are not something you would enjoy as an international student, you should surely re-consider applying to top-ranked Canadian universities. Meanwhile, if PR status and affordable tuition & living expenses are your key decision-making factors when choosing between Australian and Canadian universities, you will surely find excellent value for money if you select Canada as an international student.

With both countries providing excellent quality of life and educational infrastructure, you will surely have a great time in both Australia and Canada whether you are busy with academics or having fun outside the classroom.

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