I am high school student wanting to study overseas. A lot of my friends are applying to Canadian universities. What do you think of Canada for higher education?

Canada was last year name as the Best Country for Education, followed by United Kingdom, Germany and Australia in rankings by U.S. News.

While the total number of international students is much smaller than its southern behemoth, the growth in this sector is the highest amongst all other countries and as result student numbers have more than doubled there.

A prime reason for this growth has been the government’s International Education Strategy to maximise the economic opportunities associated with international education and make the country attractive to top talent from emerging market economies.

For any international student, the cost of education and the employment opportunities resulting from this education are major factors in taking a decision. To bolster Canada’s attractiveness to top global talent, not only are international students allowed to stay there for three years after graduation but the system also allows a spouse to work alongside them, thus mitigating the economic burden.

The best of Canadian education tends to cost less than similar options in the US. There are also a very few scholarships, such as the Ontario scholarship and the Commonwealth scholarship, which an international student could target.

While Canadian educational institutes may not have the same prestige and international recognition as the Ivy League or Oxbridge Universities, they cannot be discounted and about 10 of them are ranked in the global top 200 Universities with University of Toronto, McGill and University of British Columbia being household names.

Areas of excellence include technology, telecommunications, environmental sciences, agriculture and medicine.

The Canadian winter has an ugly reputation and it’s important you are well-prepared for it, though some do say ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothing’. The freedom of Canadians and international students is protected by various legislatives, resulting in an exceptionally stable society with a low crime rate.

Sanjeev Verma is an international education counsellor.