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Why choose Canada for your postgraduate degree?

May 19, 2020

Canada is the first-choice destination for many international students who are drawn to the country’s internationally renowned universities, opportunity to obtain a work permit after graduation, and safe and welcoming culture.

Canada’s growing popularity

On the list of countries with the most international students, Canada ranks third after the US and Australia. A study conducted by the International Student Admissions Service found that three in five international students (62%) had Canada as their first choice as a study destination. And these students come from all over the world, with the top 10 countries being India, China, Korea, France, Vietnam, the US, Iran, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico and Bangladesh. At UBC, over 30% of master’s students are from abroad.

In 2019, the Canadian federal government launched an initiative to encourage both incoming and outgoing international education. The Building on Success: International Education Strategy (2019-2024) includes a range of actions to support international education, including expanding the Student Direct Stream, which offers faster processing of study permit applications for students of certain priority countries.

Why is Canada so popular?

There are many reasons students choose to gain their academic credentials in Canada. One survey of 1,700 international students found that that the top five reasons for choosing Canada were:

  • the high academic rankings of its universities
  • job opportunities after graduation
  • safety and security
  • vibrant cultural life
  • geographical beauty

UBC stands out internationally

Higher education rankings consistently place UBC in the top five per cent of all universities in the world, reflecting our commitment to excellence in research and teaching.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 place UBC:

  • 34th overall and 2nd in Canada
  • 43rd for general engineering
  • 24th for business
  • 27th for life sciences
  • 1st in Canada for sustainable cities and communities

The recent Times Higher Education impact rankings, which measure a university’s impact on reaching the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals placed UBC:

  • 1st in Canada and 7th overall globally
  • 1st in the world for taking action on climate change and its impacts
  • 1st in Canada for its work on ensuring access to affordable and sustainable energy

Job opportunities before and after graduation

Study permits for international students may allow you to work on or off campus during your program. (See the UBC Working in Canada web page for more information.) While the MEL and MHLP are time-intensive degrees, some international students have managed to work part-time on campus, and some MEL students have pursued paid internships through the UBC Sustainability Scholar program.

Compared to other countries, Canada makes it relatively easy for international students to work in the country after graduating. International students are able to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit that is valid for the same length of time as their full-time study program.

The Immigration and Citizenship Canada website lists other work permits that could extend the time you can work in Canada. You may also be interested in becoming a permanent resident of Canada. The MEL and MHLP degrees are both eligible programs of study for two paths to permanent residency – the Provincial Nominee Program and Express Entry.

Gaining employment in a new country might initially seem daunting, but the MEL and MHLP will familiarize you with Canadian culture and work expectations. Some of the programs include capstone projects, practicums and other opportunities to work directly with Canadian organizations. And professional development support is available to all students, with an emphasis on networking, job search strategies, interview skills development and more.

Job opportunities for MEL and MHLP graduates are diverse. Many leading organizations are based in Vancouver and have close connections with the MEL and MHLP programs. Graduates of our degree programs also find work across Canada, often building on the professional networks they created on campus. Abdallah Aburouss, a 2019 graduate of the MEL in Advanced Materials Manufacturing program, participated in the Creative Destruction Lab class where he worked with a Quebec company on 3D printing for the aerospace and automotive industry. A few months after graduating he was working for the company in Montreal.

A safe and welcoming culture

Canada is known as a safe place to live thanks to our stable economy, greater economic equality than other countries and celebration of diversity. We’re known for our progressive policies on health care, education, immigration, the environment and sustainability – making us a welcoming and stable place for you to learn and work.

Vancouver is one of the country’s most multicultural cities, with immigrants accounting for just under half of the population. Thanks to its infrastructure, progressive social planning and commitment to sustainability, the city is consistently rated at the top of the list of the world’s liveable cities: it placed first in North America and third in the world in Mercer’s 2019 Quality of Living Ranking  and placed sixth in the world in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index for 2019.

Your future starts here

If you’re interested in expanding your horizons and employment prospects, UBC’s MEL and MHLP degrees are a great choice. In addition to gaining a postgraduate degree from one of the world’s leading universities, you’ll be immersed in Canadian culture and have outstanding opportunities to build your professional and personal networks, learn new skills and grow as a leader and innovator.



1 Canada Immigration Newsletter, “642,000 international students: Canada now ranks 3rd in foreign student attraction.” February 20, 2020.

2 The World University Rankings, “Canada is the most popular destination for international students,” October 20, 2017.

3 Canada Immigration Newsletter, “642,000 international students: Canada now ranks 3rd in foreign student attraction.” February 20, 2020.

4 The World University Rankings, “Canada is the most popular destination for international students,” October 20, 2017.





9 The Economist report requires signing up. shows the Vancouver results