Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Montreal and Toronto Among Top Ten Best Cities for International Students


Lower cost of living, affordable tuition and cultural diversity contributes to Montreal’s number one spot in the Sea Turtle Index.

Both Montreal and Toronto made the top ten in a recent index commissioned by the Bank of Communications (BoCom), one of the largest banks in China. Montreal came in at number one, thanks to its cultural diversity, high-quality but comparatively affordable post-secondary education, and overall lower cost of living. Toronto ranked fourth overall.

The Sea Turtle index, thus named for Chinese students who study abroad but return to their country of origin upon completing their studies, was created by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with design input from BoCom.

The Index ranks foreign student destinations according to five sub-indices:

  • Educational returns (the international value of education in relation to the cost of the education provided in each specific city);
  • Financial returns (the openness of the investment environment to foreign nationals and the amount of volatility risk that could effect investment returns);
  • Real estate returns (the return on investment in the local real estate market);
  • Work experience (the local job market for students and graduates in terms of availability of jobs, wages and low-taxes);
  • Social experience (the city’s level of culture, worldliness and multi-culturalism).

Montreal’s highest score came in the social experience category; Toronto scored better in real estate returns.

Although home to some of the best colleges and university in the world, no American institutions made the top ten. The poor showing was due mostly to high tuition costs for undergraduate programs in the U.S. In some cases, the cities’ educational returns were hampers by high cost of living.

Other factors that contributed to a solid showing by Montreal and Toronto include well-performing real-estate markets, Canada’s openness to foreign investment and the country’s stability leading up to and following the global mortgage crisis. Canada’s immigration laws played a big part as well: foreign students who complete their programs of study are allowed to obtain post-graduate work permits that are valid for the length of time equal to the amount of time those students studied in Canada.

The Sea Turtle Index caters mainly to Chinese students, but its findings encourage other foreign students to consider studying in Canada.

International students contribute $8 billion dollars annually to the Canadian economy.

Linda Galeazzi
Author: Linda Galeazzi
Linda Galeazzi has been an online writer and proof reader for several years.
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