- Students say Canada provides more flexible degrees than the United Kingdom and lower tuition than Ivy League schools.
- Sophie Boehler, a product of Britain’s elite private school system, was groomed to pursue the prestige of an Oxford or Cambridge education.
When she was denied admission to another U.K. university, the 20-year-old Londoner looked further afield to Montreal’s McGill University.
In retrospect, she believes it was the best possible outcome. “I wanted to use university as a springboard to trying out different things, and that was just something I didn’t see as an option in the U.K.,” Boehler explained, noting that the course combinations she desired might not have been available.
Boehler is part of a building trend of British students studying at Canadian universities because of lower fees, a more comprehensive range of courses and degree options, and greater flexibility. All at once, admissions to the United Kingdom’s elite universities have become more competitive as they welcome more students from public schools.
The U.K. has long been a famous destination for Canadian students, but the tide is turning. According to data from Universities Canada and the Canadian government, after steadily increasing for a few years, the number of new students from the United Kingdom enrolled at Canadian universities increased by nearly 10% in 2019, to almost 2,500.
The increase in enrolment from the United Kingdom may appear modest compared to the tens of thousands of students accepted from India and China. Still, it represents a breakthrough for the Canadian system.
Increased competition in the U.K.
Increased competition for admission to Oxford also Cambridge may be contributing to Canada’s increased attractiveness.
Both elite universities have traditionally focused heavily on recruiting from British private schools. Still, in recent years, they have begun to draw more students from publicly funded schools as well, making admission even more difficult.
According to the university, 42% of Oxford entrants in 2016 came from private schools in the United Kingdom. By 2020, that figure would have dropped to 30%.
Source: CBC News