best student cities
Canada is an attractive study abroad destination for numerous reasons, but which are the country’s best student cities? Source: COLE BURSTON/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Research by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) shows that Canada is attractive to international students due to its quality of education and reputation as a tolerant society and safe country. What the research doesn’t capture is how many of its student cities are great for international students to live, study, and work in.

One factor that makes this so is the number of international students in the province — in short, the more, the merrier.

In terms of province, government data notes that Ontario hosts almost 50% of the country’s international student population (nearly 307,000 people). 

British Columbia comes second with 23% of Canada’s international students (about 145,000 people) while Quebec is third, with 14% of all international students in Canada (87,000 people).

Manitoba and Nova Scotia also have high international student populations on a per capita basis, with some 19,000 international students in each province, it said.

Here are more details about Canada’s best student cities:


best student cities

Runners make their way through the Montreal Botanical Garden during the Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll International Marathon de Montreal – Day 2 on September 23, 2018 in Montreal, Canada. Source: Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Also known as the cultural capital of Canada, Montréal is ranked sixth in QS Best Student Cities 2019.

It is located in Québec province and is home to several of the country’s top universities including  McGill University and the University of Montreal.

Je Choisis Montréal (I choose Montreal), a campaign by Montréal International, notes that Greater Montréal stands out for its low cost of living. Housing is twice as affordable compared to the big cities in Europe and North America. 


best student cities

People participate in an outdoor fitness class at Hotel X, inside domes to comply with social distancing measures to control the spread of Covid-19, June 23, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario; it is ranked 11th in the QS Best Student Cities 2019.

“In fact, it has one of the highest scores of any city for desirability (one of the six areas assessed), only beaten by Sydney and Tokyo. This reflects both its all-round high quality of life and its status as an in-demand destination amongst students worldwide,” said QS.

The city is home to University of Toronto, which is the highest-ranked university in Canada (29th globally).

There are many tourist attractions, including the Royal Ontario Museum and CN Tower.


best student cities

People are seen of Capilano Suspension Bridge of Vancouver, British Columbia on July 4, 2015. Source: Franck Fife/AFP

Vancouver is ranked 16th in the QS Best Student Cities 2019. This city in British Columbia is known for its warmer climate and rainy weather.

Two universities in Vancouver are featured in the QS World University Rankings 2020: University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

Some of the popular tourist attractions include Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.


best student cities

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was born in Ottawa. Source: Dave Chan/AFP

Ottawa is located in Ontario and is Canada’s capital. It is ranked 45th in the QS Best Student Cities 2019. 

Ottawa is commonly regarded as Canada’s safest city, making it an excellent option for students. It is also multilingual, with many residents fluent in both English and French, said QS. 

Ottawa is home to the Rideau Canal Skateway, which is the world’s largest skating rink, while the city also hosts the biggest Canada Day party in the country each year on July 1.

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