Canada offers a variety of schools to choose from at all levels of study. From primary to tertiary education, both public and private educational institutions have served to meet the needs of different students, including students outside of Canada. International students who are planning to pursue an education in Canada should note that schools in the different Canadian regions follow their own educational practice and policies. Therefore, one should research on the different enrolment procedures, practices, and curriculum of the various regions before making a decision.

Educational institutions in Canada can be categorised into the following:


Public Schools

In Canada, the power to formulate an education system lies within the provincial government. There are many state-funded provincial schools known as public schools which serve to provide education to all children in Canada. These public schools are government-funded to provide free education to all domestic students in Canada (Canadian citizens and permanent residents). Public primary and secondary schools in Canada are open to international students though they are required to pay the necessary tuition fees.

The Minister of Education in each province is responsible for the allocation of educational funds received from the government, certification of teachers, school facility resources, educational statistics, etc. Therefore, it is important to note that the schools in different provinces practice a different system. For example, primary and secondary education in Quebec takes a total of 11 years to complete, while primary and secondary schools in Ontario requires a total 12 years to complete.

Above 90% of Canadian students choose to attend public schools, which means that class sizes in public schools are fairly big compared to private schools. One benefit of having a large class size is that international students who attend these public schools are able to adapt quicker with the locals and practice their English language proficiency if they are from a non-English speaking country.

The government also funds schools the proper facilities and educational resources they need to make sure students receive quality education and a well-rounded teaching curriculum.

Students from the public schools of each province will have a higher chance of entering a University in the same province due to the fact that the education system differs in every area. Although tertiary institutions are now more open to accept students from other areas, it is recommended that a student choose to complete their secondary education in the same province as their desired University to increase the likelihood of a successful application.


Private Schools

Private Schools in Canada are relatively popular among both local and international students. Even though private schools require locals to pay the school fees, it is still a widely favoured option among parents because of the advantages they offer that public schools do not.

Firstly, the curriculum in private schools do not follow the curriculum set by the Canada provincial government but adopt an international curriculum such as the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB). These curriculums are widely recognized in other parts of the world and would therefore provide students a broader educational pathway upon completion. This is also a good option for international students who are unsure of where to pursue their higher education in the future. Furthermore, the education offered in these private schools are designed so that international students of different education background would be able to pick up and understand easily, whereas the curriculum offered by Canadian public schools are specially customised according to each provincial conditions.

Secondly, tuition fees of these international schools will be used to constantly improve and upgrade school facilities; hence providing quality educational resources to students. Additionally, parents have the option of enrolling their child into the day school or boarding school in these pre-tertiary private institutes.

Class sizes in private schools are also fairly controlled in order to ensure a balanced teacher-to-student ratio. A typical class size in these schools is one teacher to 16 students. Unlike public schools, this controlled class size allows teachers to allocate adequate attention to every individual student.

In addition, private schools usually have frequent school intakes throughout the year. International students graduating at differing times can enter a private school in Canada immediately and the schools will strive to best allocate the student into a suitable grade level. In contrast, public schools only offer 1-2 intakes in an academic year.

Lastly, as most private schools offer boarding for students, they are able to stay in the accommodation provided school instead of looking for an external place, and these boarding schools usually adhere to safety and security measures.

We recommend that you engage a professional education consultant like Study Trust International to guide you in understanding more about the differing education policies as well as to assist you in the application process until you are enrolled into the school.

Learn more about studying in Canada with some commonly asked questions by our students

FAQ about studying in Canada

Learn more about how to apply to the various schools in Canada

How to apply to Canada schools