Canada study visits

KE study visits generally start with a visit to a university or a place of cultural interest, and are then followed by an opportunity to see something of the local area, including some of the main sights.

If you’d like to see how they work in practice, please look at the timetable for your chosen programme.

In Canada, both programmes (East and West) include a 3-to-4-day tour to other cities.


Half-day trip to Calgary city

On this afternoon trip, you’ll see the highlights of the city, including the high-rise buildings of downtown, the scenic Bow River and the park where the famous Calgary Stampede is held.

Day trip to Edmonton

Edmonton (population: just over 1 million) is the capital of the province of Alberta, and it’s about a three-hour drive from Calgary. It’s an attractive modern city, with a great location on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.

Our visit begins at the University of Alberta:

University of Alberta, Edmonton

The University has a really prominent location itself on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, just opposite the city centre on the other shore. It has its own metro station and bus terminus, and it’s very easy to get to and from most other parts of the city. Some of the buildings are historical and have a certain character, but most are more modern.

The University has around 40,000 students (and with 15,000 staff it’s actually the fourth largest employer in the province of Alberta). It offers around 200 undergraduate programmes across 18 faculties. Its professors have won more awards for teaching excellence than those of any other Canadian university. The University is universally recognised as one of the major research establishments in Canada.

In addition to the main campus, the University has another, the North Campus, not very far away, and additional locations in and around Edmonton.

As a large university, Alberta can offer a great range of facilities and services.   There are over 450 student clubs and associations, so pretty much every interest is catered for! It also has its own shopping mall/food court called The Hub, a very lively place for students to meet.

Edmonton city

After visiting the University, you’ll go into the city centre. The highlight is probably the legislature of the province (a sort of parliament), which has a great location on the banks of the river.

Next, you go to West Edmonton Mall, where you have time to explore at your leisure! When it was first opened, in 1981, this was the largest mall in the world. It has now been overtaken by a number of others, but it’s still the largest in North America, and offers over 800 stores and services. Included in the mall are a huge waterpark, a sea life exhibition, an ice-skating rink – and a huge food court, where we suggest you buy dinner (on this trip we include lunch, but not dinner).

While you’re in Calgary, you’ll also visit the University of Calgary, but we describe that in study centres.

The tour

At the end of the programme, you’ll enjoy a four-night tour from Calgary, all the way across the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver. (Please note that the accommodation for one night is in dormitories in a youth hostel. During the tour, we include breakfast, plus another meal each day which will either be lunch or dinner.)

Day 1. Today you leave Calgary and quite quickly enter the Rocky Mountains. Based in the tourist town of Banff, you first of all visit a famous waterfall, then a thermal area. In the afternoon, the group splits: one half climb a mountain, the other half go canoeing on the river! And then you swap over. So be prepared for an energetic and adventurous afternoon… In the evening, you have some time to explore the shops of Banff. Overnight: Banff

Day 2. You set off early for Lake Louise. This famous lake, one of Canada’s best-known tourist attractions, has a huge and very exclusive hotel on one side, a huge mountain on the other. Just a little further is Moraine Lake. Not quite as famous as Lake Louise, it’s possibly even more spectacular, with huge mountains coming right down to the water’s edge.

After a lunch break at Lake Louise, you continue to Kelowna, where you spend one night on the campus of the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. In the evening, you can enjoy a stroll through this attractive lakeside town. Overnight: Kelowna

Day 3. Today you travel to the impressive city of Vancouver (population: 2.5 million). Our residence here is Simon Fraser University. After checking in and taking dinner there, the group goes into downtown Vancouver for a walking tour of the highlights.

Your day starts with a presentation by UBC Okanagan.  This is our main presentation on UBC, and it will cover the University as a whole, not just Okanagan.

UBC is generally ranked in second place among all the universities in Canada, and it’s highly competitive.  This status covers the Okanagan campus as much as the larger and better known campus in Vancouver (Okanagan is the name of this region of Canada, though the city is Kelowna).  Okanagan has around 8,000 students, and a wide range of courses is on offer.

Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city. It’s a lively, modern city, with a great location between forested mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

The original Simon Fraser was a fur trader and explorer, who helped to open up British Columbia to European settlement. The University which bears his name has an unusual location: it sits on the top of a large hill called Burnaby Mountain. It’s around 20 kilometres from here into the centre of Vancouver; first of all, you take a bus down the mountain, and then there’s a fast train into the city proper.

The campus dominates the top of Burnaby Mountain, the slopes of which are densely forested, and home to a lot of wildlife, including bears! There are great views across the city in one direction, and then over to the mountains in the other. The modernist buildings are on a grand scale, and suggest a city centre as much as a university. The campus has its own shopping street, and a limited amount of student accommodation. Also on campus are great sports facilities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool, museums and art galleries.

SFU has around 35,000 students, and around 20% of these are internationals. Although it’s a relatively new university (founded in 1963), it has raced ahead to become one of the top ten in the country.

SFU has a strong presence in Vancouver, and you see signs promoting it all over the city. In addition to Burnaby Mountain, there is in fact a downtown campus, located in a prominent building in a central location. A third campus is in the town of Surrey.

Overnight: Vancouver

Day 4. Vancouver

The day begins with a proper look at Simon Fraser University, and then you go to the University of British Columbia.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver (UBC)

UBC occupies the tip of Point Grey, a large peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. The city proper ends, there is then a large green area (Pacific Spirit Regional Park), and then the campus begins. UBC is really like a city in its own right, with its shopping centre, food courts and bus station, as well as the usual university facilities. The various university buildings are to be found along a series of parallel malls. Also on the campus are the Museum of Anthropology, a botanical garden and a performing arts centre. First-year students are generally accommodated in one of the large halls of residence to be found on the edge of the campus.

UBC has around 40,000 students in total, and is regarded as one of Canada’s greatest universities. Its entrance requirements are the second highest in the country. In total, there are 12 faculties covering an extensive range of academic subjects, and with many ranked in the top 100 worldwide. The library is the second largest research library in the country.

Given the large number of students studying at UBC, it’s not surprising that it has a large number of clubs and societies, and the facilities for sports and the arts are excellent.

After lunch at UBC,  we return to the city centre, and much of the afternoon is free for you to explore Granville Island. This used to be an industrial area, but now it’s a great mixture of shops, markets, park and riverside.

Then later in the day, we travel to Sunset Beach, where we spend a final evening together before returning to Simon Fraser.

Overnight: Vancouver

Day 5. Sadly, this is departure day, so you say your good-byes and head off to Vancouver Airport.

Our programme in the East of Canada begins with a tour, and is then based at Toronto.  (The reason for doing it this way is so that students taking our combined East and West programmes continue in one line from East – Montreal – to West – Vancouver – all the way across Canada.)

Montreal (population: about 2,000,000)

Montreal – or Montréal, as it’s written in French – is the largest city in the province of Québec, and the second largest city in Canada.  Although it’s a mainly French-speaking city (the second largest in the world after Paris), English is also spoken by most people in the city.

Montreal is situated on a large island in the St. Lawrence River.  The old city is located close to the river bank, while the modern commercial centre is a short walk inland.  At the back of the central business district is Mont Royal, a wooded hill which gives great views across the city.

Montreal has four principal universities, two English-medium (McGill and Concordia) and two French-medium (l’Université de Montréal and l’Université du Québec à Montréal).  Because most of our students are English-speaking, we focus on the English-medium universities (although if any are interested specifically in the French-medium universities, we will try to arrange visits there).

Interestingly, the 2017 edition of QS Best Student Cities ranked Montreal as the best city in the world to be a university student.  Certainly, the multi-cultural, multi-lingual nature of the city makes it a stimulating place in which to spend 3 or 4 years.

On our tour of the city, we’ll walk through the colourful streets of old Montreal, and see the immense St. Lawrence River.  The energetic might choose to join us for a climb up Mont Royal in the evening.

Study visit: McGill University

With around 40,000 students, McGill is invariably regarded as one of the best in Canada, and is said to have the highest admission requirements.   Courses are offered in around 300 fields, with students enrolled in one of 11 faculties and schools, the five main ones being:  arts, science, medicine, engineering and management.  The main campus is very central, but there is also another about 30km away.

KE students taking this tour spend two nights in one of the residences of McGill University.

Study visit: Concordia University

Concordia is a university you should consider if location is important to you, and you love city life: the main campus is situated right in the heart of Montreal (although there is also a second campus about 7km away).  It’s generally seen as a very modern and progressive university, and is ranked well internationally among newer universities.  Many of its contemporary buildings are large and striking, and the main library is particularly impressive.  Concordia ranks particularly well in economics and business, social sciences and humanities, but also natural sciences, engineering and software development.  But with around 47,000 students, it clearly offers an enormous range of options.

Ottawa (population: just over 1 million)

Chosen as Canada’s capital in the 1850s, Ottawa boasts a great location on a hill above the Ottawa River, and there you will find the impressive parliament buildings, together with other government buildings, museums, galleries and so on.  The location was selected as it was half way between the main cities of Toronto and Kingston in English-speaking Canada, and Montreal and Quebec in French-speaking Canada.  Ottawa actually sits on the border between the modern provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and although it’s largely English-speaking, French is widely spoken as well.  Ottawa is now said to offer the highest standard of living in Canada.

Our tour of the city will focus on the main government area, but we’ll also see the remarkable Rideau Canal and spend some time at the celebrated ByWard Market.

Study visit: University of Ottawa

The University has the unusual distinction of being completely bilingual in English and French, and with around 40,000 students, it is in fact the largest English/French university in the world.  Students can choose to study any subject in either language, so if you don’t speak French, you don’t need to worry!  The main campus is quite close to the city centre, although there are branches elsewhere in the city.  As you would expect, there is a wide range of subject options, spread across ten faculties.

KE students taking this tour spend one night in one of the residences of the University of Ottawa.

Study visit: Carleton University

Carleton enjoys an attractive suburban location within easy reach of the centre of Ottawa.  Just from the point of view of the buildings, it’s interesting that most, including the 11 residences, are linked by a series of tunnels (enabling students to avoid the intense winter cold!).

Although it’s well-regarded across the board, Carleton is perhaps best known for its achievements in the fields of international affairs, politics, journalism and law.  However, with around 28,000 students, it’s large enough to offer a very broad range of options across the subject areas.

Study visit: Queen’s University

En route from Ottawa to Toronto, we stop off at the attractive lakeside town of Kingston, and visit Queen’s, another well-regarded university.  Queen’s is located on a very attractive campus, walking distance from the centre of Kingston.  It’s one of Canada’s oldest institutes of learning, having been founded in 1841; today, it has around 20,000 students, thereby giving Kingston the feel of a university city.

Queen’s has a strong reputation within Canada, and entrance standards are quite high.  It has particularly strengths in law, medicine and business, and has an enviable record for future career prospects.  One unusual distinction is that it offers students the chance to take part of their course in the UK, being based at a castle which was actually bequeathed to the University by a wealthy alumnus.

Kingston (population: 130,000)

Kingston is about half way between Toronto and Montreal, and partly for this reason it was chosen as the capital of Canada.  It didn’t hold this position for very long, however, and whereas places like Toronto and Montreal have turned into big cities, Kingston has retained more of a small town feel.  Because it’s one of the older towns in Canada, it has some attractive buildings, any built of limestone, and giving it the name ‘the limestone city’.  The lakeside location is very appealing.

Study visits in Toronto

While you are in Toronto, you will have the chance to visit Toronto University (described under Study centres), York University, and there will also be rather more of a sightseeing trip into the city centre and the islands just off the shoreline.   In addition, we include one full-day trip to McMaster University and the University of Waterloo, also to Niagara Falls.

Study visit: York University

York is the second major university in Toronto, and we shall probably use public transportation to get there.  The main campus is located in a suburban area.  It’s worth noting that most York students do not live on campus, and international students should ask about the support they would receive.

With 53,000 students, York is the third largest university in Canada.  Although entry is not as competitive as it is for Toronto, York still ranks at least within the top 15, if not the top 10 in Canada.  And for certain subjects, it has an outstanding reputation, these including film, history, education and law.  Most prestigious of all is the Schulich School of Business, offering a wide range of postgraduate, but also some undergraduate programmes; it’s generally ranked as one of the best in Canada, and in the top 50 worldwide.

Half-day trip to Toronto city

Today’s visit takes you to see downtown Toronto, dominated by the CN Tower, for a while the tallest building in the world.  After looking upwards at the impressive high-rise buildings, we take a short ferry ride to the Toronto Islands.  This is a recreational area just off the shoreline in Lake Ontario.  Enjoy not only the islands, but also the impressive view as you look back at the city.  If there is time, we’ll also have a look at the older part of Toronto.

Day trip to McMaster University, Waterloo University – and Niagara Falls!

The distances are not great for this trip, but we do include quite a lot.  The two universities visited should definitely be considered by all students looking to apply to a high-ranking university in Canada.   By contrast, Niagara Falls have rather less to do with study – but we thought you’d want to see them since you’re so close!

McMaster University

The main campus of this prestigious university is located in a very green and attractive location, yet within easy reach of the city centre.  The older buildings were constructed in the same striking neo-Gothic style which you find at Toronto.  McMaster has around 30,000 students, and is generally ranked fourth in Canada, and in the top 100 worldwide.   Its medical school is probably the best-known outside Canada, but the University does offer a full range of courses.  It has also become famous for the ‘McMaster Model’ of learning, which is interdisciplinary and based on problem-solving by students.

Hamilton (population: 550,000)

McMaster is located in Hamilton, a large port city at the south-western corner of Lake Ontario.  Although it’s an important industrial city, it has a lot of green spaces, and there is a wide selection of museums, galleries and other cultural centres.  Unfortunately, we just have time for a short visit to Hamilton on this trip.

The University of Waterloo

Although it’s not very big (with around 100,000 inhabitants), the town of Waterloo is at the centre of Canada’s Technology Triangle (CTT), an area which has attracted many hi-tech companies.  BlackBerry have their headquarters in the city.

Founded in 1957, the University is relatively new, but it has established a fine reputation for itself.  It is very careers-oriented, and it’s perhaps most famous for its co-operative education programmes, allowing students to combine study with work experience.  It now has around 36,000 students based at a number of different campuses.  In view of the opportunities in the area, it’s not surprising that Waterloo’s key strengths include engineering and technology, computer science and mathematics, in all of which it ranks close to the top in Canada, and very well internationally.

Niagara Falls

The Falls are created by vast amounts of water from the four upper lakes plunging down to the last of the lakes, Lake Ontario.  They also mark the border with the USA (we don’t cross over to the USA on this trip, as not all our students will have the necessary visa to do so). But the views are spectacular on either side.  If you like statistics, around 2,400 cubic meters per second falls around 50 metres.  It’s worth seeing!