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Canada Vs Australia: Cost of study, visa requirements, work permits – Compared

By Rohit Sethi

Choosing a study abroad destination can be perplexing, especially for international students. The entire decision-making process is challenging due to many reasons, including cost of living, cultural diversity, unfamiliar processes etc.

Out of many countries, the two countries that always receive maximum interest from the international student community are Canada and Australia. Both countries are top-ranked English-speaking nations that draw more than 50% of overseas students. According to the QS World University Rankings, 2024, the Australian National University ranks first in Australia and 34th globally, while McGill University in Canada is ranked first in Canada and 30th globally.

Following is a comparative analysis of both countries that will help you decide which country is more suitable for you.

Cost of Study: Canada v/s Australia

The cost of living is a significant consideration when picking a destination for study abroad. These expenses will include the cost of education as well as housing, food, and entertainment costs. Travel fees to and from the country of residence, medical insurance premiums, and costs associated with furnishings, books, and educational supplies are additional charges.

The cost of living is $7,965 to $9,558 in Canada and $ 14,146 to $ 14,890 in Australia. In comparison, Canada’s average cost of living is about 50% lower than Australia’s.

Student visa requirements: Canada v/s Australia

Students must submit a study permit application in order to study in Canada. The study permit is good for the whole study term and an additional 90 days post-completion of the course. Students who want to enroll in a full-time program in Australia must apply for the Subclass 500 visa, which is available. This student visa for Australia is valid for a maximum of five years. Before applying to any program in Australia or Canada, international students must take English language tests like the IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE along with applicable qualifying tests like SAT, GMAT, GRE etc.

Work study options: Canada v/s Australia

In Canada, students can work while holding their student visas. During the course, students may work 20 hours per week at either on-campus or off-campus positions though they can work full-time during vacations. Coming to post-study employment, after graduating from a Canadian post-secondary institution, an overseas student may work there for up to three years. Within 180 days of receiving their degree, students must submit an application for a work visa.

Similarly, working while studying is possible for international students in Australia. While engaged in class, they are only permitted to work a total of 48 hours fortnightly but during breaks, they are free to work as much as they want. No limitations on working hours apply to those seeking a master’s or a doctoral degree. After completion of their studies, students are eligible for up to 7 years of work visa.

Immigration Opportunities: Canada v/s Australia

You must apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) if you want to remain in Canada after finishing your education. The duration of a PGWP’s validity in Canada varies depending on the program’s length and can be anywhere from eight months to three years. You can also initiate the PR (permanent residence) along with your job to secure a long-term future for yourself in the country.

The most popular type of visa used by international students to remain in Australia after graduation is the 485 Graduate Work Stream. If you have finished a program lasting two years or more, a Skilled Graduate Temporary Visa enables you to live and work in Australia for 3 years to obtain work experience. There are several subclasses/streams in which you can apply for your permanent residence after hitting the required points.

In conclusion, when choosing between these two options, take your financial condition, professional aspirations, and preferred immigration pathway into account. A thorough research might not be enough, rather speaking to study abroad experts or even networking with students already in either of the countries will give you real insights and assist you in making this decision.

(Author is Director – ESS Global)