Current and prospective MBA students from Canada’s top universities tell us why you should study north of the American border.
Canada has not always enjoyed such an encouraging business reputation. While the country boasts several business schools within its universities, MBA’s have not flocked north of the American border in the same numbers as those coming to the States and in Europe. Just six such institutions are featured in both the current Financial Times and The Economist’s top 100 MBA rankings. The USA currently has a staggering 51. In 2011,
But in practise, Canada is becoming a thriving place to study.
As many as 80% of international students that complete a one-year MBA at the University of New Brunswick do not leave Canada once completing their studies, according to Recruitment Coordinator Sarah Craig. Canada’s diverse culture, relaxed immigration laws and relatively stable economy are just some of the reasons students study there.
Siobhan Haze, a current MBA student at the University of Toronto, says that studying in Canada has helped kick start her career “because of the financial stability” in the region. “Now, Canada has gained a really strong reputation for stability and for pragmatic advice that we didn’t have before,” she said from an MBA careers event inside the Canadian embassy in central London.
“And that’s been a huge draw for companies coming to Canada. There’s a feeling in the country of being proud of yourself, and there is an energy today that wasn’t always here.”
Haze has since secured a summer internship in London at a subsidiary company of international law firm BLP. “The opportunity to begin working internationally would not have come had I not been in Toronto,” she added. “I chose Toronto because it’s a hub of so many different businesses. Recruiters come from all over the world directly to Toronto – it gives you a point of connection you can’t get at other places.”
Francois Bork, also an MBA student in Toronto who began his career as an undergraduate engineer, says that the university has a very welcoming culture. Asked if studying in Canada has helped him achieve his career goals, he said: “Definitely. I love Canada. I’m very privileged to be there. Canada has lots of opportunity: the country seems hungry for highly educated people.”
Bork also said that the country’s diverse culture is what attracted him to complete his MBA there. “It’s a very welcoming country,” he said. “I think in terms of culture it’s a society that’s very used to newcomers. So that’s probably the easiest place to be a newcomer in the world.
“There are always challenges moving to a new country, but moving to Canada is relatively simpler, because the society is open. And wherever you come from you can probably find your community there: you can find your home country’s food and people who speak their language very easily.”
Canadian universities began embarking on a recruitment drive in London to reach prospective UK students on World Canada Day, on Monday, July 1. The effort to entice more MBA’s across the Atlantic comes on the same day that Mark Carney, the former head of the Bank of Canada, takes over the reigns as the Bank of England Governor. He was lauded as the “outstanding central banker of his generation” for his role in helping to keep Canada’s economy thriving. All of which makes studying an MBA in Canada seem an attractive prospect.
Students also find it is easier to stay and work in Canada after completing an MBA. “Once you complete an education programme in Canada, it’s very easy to obtain post-grad work permit; almost guaranteed,” says Craig, of the University of New Brunswick. “From there, most provinces require you work full time for 12-months, and then you can begin an application for permanent residency.
“So long as you do your graduate studies in Canada, it’s the same process for everyone – regardless of where you do your undergraduate course. Close to 80% of our international students do not leave Canada after study, within our 1 year MBA programme.”
Hilary Lemieux, from the Ivey School of Business at Western University, agreed that the relatively relaxed immigration laws are a positive for MBA’s. “If you look at the US, it’s a lot more closed-off to immigration. Our policies are much more open,” she said. “We have a history of being extremely welcoming of people from the world, people who have a lot of different backgrounds, and that totally adds to the culture that you see in Canada now. It’s awesome.”
Graduate opportunities are paramount to what studying in Canada is all about. “The graduate opportunities for people are incredible. Banking held up over the crisis and the oil system is booming. The unemployment rate is nothing like what you see in Europe and I think that’s drawn a lot of people,” Lemieux added.
Nina Lemettila, who studied hospitality management in Switzerland, said that she hopes to study an MBA in Canada because it has a strong culture and secure economy. “Why not Canada?” she said. “I have no limitations of where I can or can’t go, I want to go everywhere at some point.
“But culturally, Canada is quite good. People generally have a good image of Canada. Also it would be quite a secure country… the strong economy would of course help.”
While MBA courses in Canada are lesser known quantities, it is clear students are reaping the benefits of studying in such an international environment. At the moment, Rotman Business School in Toronto and the Schulich School of Business at York are the only Canadian universities featured within the top-50 of any MBA rankings. But if the Canadian MBA continues to rise in popularity, then that number will surely rise with it.