Sunday, September 15, 2013

Migrating via Student Visa - Part 1

In one of my previous posts, Vegabond had some questions about migrating to B.C., Canada, indirectly via the Student Visa route.
Vegabond wrote on Friday, August 30, 2013 12:06:00 AM:

Hi Winking Doll,
I have been following your blog ever since I chanced upon it from asingaporean son. Thanks for starting this blog :) I, too, am looking to move to BC however I do not qualified as a skilled worker. My local uni degree has little employability out of sg...haha. I'm interested to do a career switch into healthcare and is looking at some of the healthcare related programs in Canada. What is your insights on other allied health professionals in terms of jobs outlook/demand in Canada, how open is employers towards foreigners who graduated from Canadian schools, etc?
Vegabond wrote on Friday, August 30, 2013 12:14:00 AM: 
Appreciate if you could email me and share your opinions and advice about entering Canada via student visa route... Wishing u luck in finding your ideal job in BC! My email is [Email edited for privacy]

His/her questions cannot be answered in a single post, so I shall do this in a series. This is the first part. But first a declaration and disclaimer.

DECLARATION and DISCLAIMER: The following is my personal opinion. I am not any way qualified to give education and/or migration advice to anyone, and thus any content from me shall be construed as a sharing of personal opinion, not advice. I do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided by me. Under no circumstances will I or anyone related to this content be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from any reliance on the information or other content posted or linked by me.

The B.C. education scene is very lively. There are lots of paper mills. Many will promise you "take this or that course, this or that industry is short of skilled people" etc. What they do not inform you is the reality of the B.C. (and/or Canadian) job market. I shall cover the B.C. job market later in this series. 

Firstly, how to sort out the paper mills from the really "recognized" education centres? At the risk of offending a lot of BC graduates and holders of higher-education paper-qualifications, here are my 2 cents of opinion.

1. Go to publicly-funded and/or well-known post-secondary schools

These are listed on the Translink (public transport) website as follow. "Eleven post-secondary institutions in Metro Vancouver are eligible to participate in the program (University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, Langara College, Emily Carr University of Art & Design, Vancouver Community College, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the Justice Institute of BC)."

Note: As far as I know, Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art & Design is not publicly-funded. It is private, but has a good reputation (see point 3 below). I do not know about Capilano University, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the Justice Institute of BC -- I suspect some of these are not publicly-funded either.

IMHO, as a result of having to justify for funding from the government, the publicly-funded institutions have to ensure that their education/training programmes have some relevance and/or maintain acceptable standards.

2. Check is the website created to assist those exploring post-secondary education options in BC. You can search the website for programmes offered by the various education institutions.

3. Ask those in-the-know about informal ranking

I was told informally by various BC locals/residents of the following informal rankings.
  • For degree courses, UBC (University of British Columbia) has the best reputation (i.e. well-recognized across Canada, in USA and overseas). SFU (Simon Fraser University) also has cross-Canada and some international clout. I've been told by some that this is followed by BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) is behind BCIT in the reputation/prestige game. 
[Note: I did not have much of a choice of education institutions as CRNBC only recognized 2 institutional courses specifically catered to Graduate Nurses, Internationally Educated Re-entry. One was mainly classroom-based from KPU and the other was a mainly online-based course from Thomson Rivers University.]
  • For arts, animation and design, Emily Carr University of Art & Design is the place to be.
  • For community colleges, the top-ranking is VCC (Vancouver Community College). [Note: Be careful of copycats with sound alike names, e.g. VCC (Vancouver Career College), but of different reputation.] The next best is Langara College. Douglas College is ok, but definitely does not have the "oomph" of the preceding 2 publicly-funded colleges. One thing to be aware is that while community college qualifications are recognized throughout BC, I've been told that they do not carry the same prestige across Canada. Thus, the community college route is only recommended if one does not intend to leave BC and/or one intends to transfer/upgrade to other courses in the universities.
Ok, that's all for Part 1 - How to sort out the paper mills from the really "recognized" education centres?

  • Click here for Part 2 - Factors to consider when selecting an education programme for the purpose of immigration.
  • Click here for Part 3 - Odds and ends.


  1. Try and get into BCIT, a lot of employers look highly on BCIT grads as they do get more hands on experience compared to UBC or SFU grads.

    Also, this might be addressed in a further post, but try your best to get a course that is longer than 2 years to facilitate your progression from student visa > post-grad work visa > PR.

    1. Thanks, Anonymous on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:53:00 PM. I'm not sure about the "look highly on BCIT grads" but from my (totally unscientific and small sample size) observation at a health authority orientation, any graduate from a publicly-funded Canadian university (even those from other provinces) seem to be welcomed. That said, it may just be bias in my totally unscientific, small sample size and highly subjective observation.

      You're right about the advice "get a course that is longer than 2 years to facilitate your progression from student visa" ... to PR.

      Yes, I am planning to cover it in part 2, just don't have the time to sit down and write a proper follow-up blog entry yet. Thanks for highlighting this to my readers. Cheers!

  2. Thanks for the post, WD!

    UBC and VCC are very competitive schools with stringent requirements. I am looking at Dalhousie U located in Halifax as they have higher intake of students (more places for international students) and their admission requirements seem less intimidating, at least, on their website. Again, do you have any info on the local sentiments towards Dal grads? I planned on working for a few years after getting my Dip before completing my degree in UBC (if I can get in).

    Looking forward to your Part 2! =)

    1. Hi Vegabond,

      You're welcome.

      From what I gather from Dalhousie U website, it seems that it may be a privately-funded university. In which case, you'd better check their international and domestic rankings on the specific course that you intend to take.

      LIFT explains about international/domestic rankings of universities on his blog, albeit more based on the UK setting. Search for "university rankings" on his blog. E.g. Check his entries here and here.

      Btw, Halifax, Nova Scotia, is part of "Altantic Canada". Vancouver, B.C., is part of "Pacific/West Canada". The flight distance between the two is 4,443km (or 2,760 miles).. [Or roughly the same as the flight distance between Singapore and Beijing, China.]

      Thus I'm sorry, I do not have any info about local sentiments towards Dal grads. In fact, I wonder how many in Metro Vancouver, B.C., have heard of Dal U (Halifax, N.S.). That's the way it goes -- there are so many universities in Canada that only the top few in each province are known throughout the country.

      Please bear with me as I prepare part 2.

      Cheers, WD.

  3. Ah, so Halifax is very "ulu"....

    No worries, thanks loads for your posts and replies, WD.

    1. Haha, don't call Halifax "ulu" or you may risk insulting the Atlantic Canadians. :-P

      Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada has a long history, you know. E.g. Halifax was the main shipping port that survivors of the Titanic were sent to.

      But as I mentioned in reply to your comment in my other blog post, Atlantic Canada is sometimes also known as "white bread" Canada because there are way fewer "coloured" folks in those areas than e.g. Ontario, BC and Quebec.

      Depending on how you see it, it can be a pro or a con to emigrate to a region with few coloured residents. Some like the "copycat" mentality. I personally prefer a place with fewer fellow Asians (especially Singaporeans) because I don't like the typical Asian kiasu, kiasi, I-win-you-lose competitive, materialistic mentality.

      To be honest, I originally planned on heading to Alberta because I heard that there was a thriving economy, lots of job opportunities and fewer Asian migrants. 2 of my Singapore nursing classmates convinced me to change destination to Metro Vancouver and the rest is history.

      Cheers, WD.

  4. Interesting! Lol I'm the ulu one =p

  5. To the person who commented on Monday, December 02, 2013 11:25:00 PM, in an attempt to place a free advertisement to his/her migration services.

    Obviously you're not a regular reader of my blog. I did not use a migration agent and encourage others to DIY.

    Besides, if you want to advertise your services, please pay for it. There are many blogs out there writing migration-related stories that would carry paid advertisement.