Once again, Montreal has been ranked as the top North American city for international students in the highly prestigious QS University Rankings for 2018, the only Canadian city to make it to the top 10 most favoured slots.
Noted by QS as Canada’s “cultural capital,” Montreal is applauded for its “multicultural makeup and inclusive ethos” as well as its laidback yet lively lifestyle, attractive boulevards, thriving creative industries, café culture, eclectic range of arts venues and nightlife—not to forget its internationally ranked universities. (McGill is currently ranked as 32nd in the world, and both the University of Montreal and Concordia University have also achieved respectable rankings.)
To put matters in a tighter perspective, Montreal has slipped out of last year’s first-place ranking to be replaced in the #1 spot by London, then Tokyo, then Melbourne, in that order—but it remains ahead of all other Canadian cities and any or all cities in the US, none of which made it into the top 10.
A welcome trajectory for Canada
Recruitment of international students is a top priority not only of the federal government—which envisions streaming foreign-born, well-educated graduates into its economy—but by individual provinces who see the value of holding on to these students once they have completed their studies.
According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, there were almost half a million international students in Canada in 2017, 48 per cent of them in Ontario and 12 per cent in Quebec.
In trying to attract their share of this growing universe of prospects, each of the provinces has its own playbook for providing health insurance to foreign students and other immigrant or visitor classifications—a major cost-of-living factor that has to be considered in making any school decision.
Insurance requirements remain provincial
Most provinces (with exceptions of Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island) offer eligibility (some with buy-in options) to provincially funded health insurance programs—usually after three-month waiting periods. Private health insurance programs are available to cover those waiting periods.
In Ontario, Quebec, and PEI, students must buy private insurance, either from their school of choice or from private insurers, who offer a wide range of plans designed specifically for students and their dependents as well—if necessary.
Quebec, however, has bilateral social services agreements with nine European countries that allow students from those countries to received public health care coverage while studying in the province.
For those outside of those agreements, private insurance is widely available.
As added incentives, Quebec’s colleges and universities (including the perennially highly rated McGill) generally have some of the lowest tuitions for international students in Canada, but there’s no question that fees for international students are a lot higher than for domestic students. So perhaps its no wonder the Montreal continues to rate so highly as a student-friendly city.
Planning to study in Canada? There are health insurance plans designed just for international students.