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Learning

Enrol Your Children In School

Education system

Ottawa has many schools to choose from. The city offers high quality English and French education in public (non-religious), Catholic and private school systems. The schools in Ottawa provide quality education, with Ottawa students on average scoring higher than provincial averages in most areas of reading, writing and mathematics.

The Ontario government pays for public elementary and secondary school education. If you enrol your children in private school, you will have to pay tuition fees. Costs vary depending on which school you choose.

Full-day kindergarten

In September 2010, the Ontario government began phasing in full-day kindergarten for 4 and 5 year olds. In the first year, nearly 600 schools offered full-day kindergarten, with the number of schools increasing every year. By September 2014, all elementary schools will offer the program.

Full-day kindergarten is not mandatory. At the schools where full-day kindergarten is offered, parents can choose to remove their child for part of the day, if that is what works best for them. Parents have the choice about whether to enrol their 4 and 5 year olds in full-day kindergarten.

For more information:

Preschool boy in classroom

Elementary and secondary schools

In Ontario, all children aged 6 to 18 are legally required to attend school. Elementary schools provide kindergarten classes for children aged 4 and 5, and classes for grades 1 through 8 for children aged 6 to 13. Secondary schools (also called high schools) offer grades 9 through 12 for young people aged 13 to 18.

Public elementary and secondary school education (free for residents)

Ottawa has four school boards (2 English and 2 French): 2 public school boards and 2 Catholic school boards. Each school board has its own set of rules and admission criteria. Once you have selected which school board your child will attend (public vs. catholic) and in which language (English vs. French), your child has to attend the school located in his neighbourhood (ex: Public English school in his neighbourhood).

To find out the admission criteria of the school boards and to register your child, visit their respective websites:

You must register your child for school in your neighbourhood. Depending on the school board, they will either complete an assessment before attending or after they have begun classes. To register your child for school you will need to bring:

  • Immigration papers
  • Immunization records
  • School records
  • A copy of the child’s proof of age (e.g., birth certificate)
  • Other documents: court order/ruling regarding custody

If you need assistance, the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)’s Multicultural Liaison Officer Program can help you navigate the Ottawa school system.

Homeschooling

Parents have the right to home school their child under certain conditions. Details on homeschooling can be found under Policy and Program Memorandum 131 of the Education Act. "Homeschooling" means to teach your children at home instead of sending them to a school.

Parents who decide to provide home schooling for their child(ren) should notify the school board of their intent in writing. The letter should be signed by the parent(s). Parents may use this sample letter.

Visit the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) for a list of Homeschooling Frequently Asked Questions.

Private schools

In Ontario, private schools operate as businesses or non-profit organizations. Parents have to pay the costs for their children to attend a private school.

The Ontario Ministry of Education does not regulate, licence, accredit or otherwise oversee the operation of private schools. Parents/guardians and students must do their research before registering for private schools.

For more information:

Transportation to school

School bus transportation is provided free of charge to students depending on their grade level and the distance from their home or caregiver to the school within that boundary. When you enrol your child, the school will inform you if your child qualifies for bus services and if yes, they will contact them and register your child on your behalf.

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) is responsible for the management and administration of all home to school transportation on behalf of the English School Boards. Parents can access bus stop information for their children using OSTA's online Stop Finder.

Le Consortium de transport scolaire d’Ottawa (CTSO) is responsible for transportation on behalf of the French School Boards.

High school students with access to public transit (OC Transpo) will be provided with passes or tickets for the months of September to June.

Colleges and universities

Colleges and universities offer learning for high school graduates and specialized learning for adults. If you or your children attend college or university, you will have to pay tuition fees. Costs vary depending on which school and the program you choose.

You may be eligible for financial assistance through a scholarship or bursary through the schools. Student loans are also available through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Ottawa’s colleges and universities welcome students from over a hundred different countries.

Colleges
  • Algonquin College is the largest college in eastern Ontario and offers more than 180 programs.
  • La Cite collégiale offers more than 90 programs in areas such as administration, media and communications, health, technology, hospitality and tourism, community services and trades.
Universities
  • Carleton University offers 65 programs of study in areas as diverse as public affairs, journalism, film studies, engineering, high technology and international studies.
  • The University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (English?French) university in the world. It offers about 200 undergraduate programs and over 185 graduate programs.
  • Saint Paul University is a Catholic Pontifical university federated with the University of Ottawa. The university currently houses four faculties: Human Sciences, Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law. Within these faculties are housed programs in 19 disciplines, ranging from the undergraduate to the doctoral level.
  • The Dominican University College is a bilingual Roman Catholic university, offering civil and pontifical bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in philosophy and theology.

There are also other religious and private colleges in Ottawa: see lists of religious and private colleges.

As an Ottawa resident, you can also study at universities and colleges across Canada through distance education. Visit Distance Education Link to learn more.

Ontario also has a strong apprenticeship program for people interested in learning skilled trades. Apprenticeship combines in-class lessons with paid on-the-job training. Visit the Training and apprenticeship opportunities section of this portal for more information.

Immunization

In Ontario, it is the law that before your child enters school their immunizations (vaccinations) need to be up to date. Immunizations help to protect your child against serious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio, tetanus and others.  

The Public Health Agency of Canada has produced a very useful guide for parents titled “A Parent's Guide to Immunization”.

In Ottawa, immunization is available at your family doctor or a walk-in clinic. There is no charge for the vaccines available through public funding.

Ottawa Public Health conducts reviews of children's immunizations.  If your child's immunizations are not up to date, Ottawa Public Health will contact you to get your child immunized by a specific date.  If this is not completed on time, then your child will be suspended from school until the necessary immunizations are received.

Update your child’s immunization record

Any time your child gets a vaccination or booster shot you need to update their record with Ottawa Public Health by:

Deciding not to immunize a child

If you decide not to immunization your child due to religious or medical reasons, you can pick up a Statement of Conscious and Religious Beliefs or a Statement of Medical Exemption from Ottawa Public Health. The Statement of Medical Exemption must be completed by a physician, but the Statement of Conscious and Religious Beliefs can be completed by the parents as long as there is a witness.  Both forms need to be returned to Ottawa Public Health and are kept on file. 

Even with one of these certificates, your child can still be suspended from school in the event of an outbreak of vaccine preventable disease.  For more information you can contact Ottawa Public Health Immunization Program.

For more information:

Ottawa Public Health Immunization Program

Child care

In Ottawa, parents who work or attend a school often register their young children in child care (daycare). There are different options of childcare available to you and most require a fee for childcare. Making a decision about child care can be one of the most difficult decisions a parent can make. The following information will give you some general suggestions on how to go about choosing child care.

Child care fee subsidy

Child Care Fee Subsidy is intended to help families with the high cost of child care. It is available to families living in Ottawa who financially qualify and are determined to be eligible in accordance with the recognized level of need and the availability of funds for subsidy.

Some examples where a parent or guardian may qualify for a subsidy are as follows:

  • Employed  and need financial assistance with child care to remain employed
  • Going to school
  • Looking for work
  • Caring for a child with special needs
  • Having personal needs

Child care fee subsidies are available in licensed child care programs for children aged 0 to 10 (11 to 13 years in special circumstances).

The City of Ottawa administers the Child Care Fee Subsidy program and will pay for all or part of your child care costs once you are determined eligible by a Subsidy Coordinator.

Child Care Registry and Waitlist

If you need fee subsidy, you need to place your child’s name on the Child Care Registry and Waitlist for a child care space.

For a full fee child care space:

  1. Create an online application through the Child Care Registry and Waitlist
  2. Select your preferred child care options
  3. You will be contacted by one of the child care agencies that you have selected once a space is available

For a child care fee subsidy:

  1. Create an online application through the Child Care Registry and Waitlist
  2. Select your preferred child care options
  3. Submit required documents to verify eligibility 
  4. You will be contacted by the City of Ottawa to confirm the status of your application

Once you have secured a space within a child care agency, call 311 for an appointment to determine eligibility for a fee subsidy.

For more information about Child Care Fee Subsidy, visit this section of Ottawa.ca for more details.

Tutoring and homework clubs

Starting over in a new country is not easy. Children will have a lot of learning to do to adapt to a new education system. It is important to be patient and give your child the time necessary to adapt. However, if your child is struggling with understanding the concepts being taught in class or cannot do their homework, it is important to get them help.

There are several options available when it comes to tutoring and homework clubs:

In the school

Many schools offer (free or paid) homework clubs. Ask your child’s teacher if such program is available in your child’s school.

Library

Your local library may offer free homework clubs. Visit your local library to become familiar with their services.

City of Ottawa

The City also offers after school programs (games, sports, crafts, quiet homework time and much more) at a cost. For more information visit this section of Ottawa.ca.

Community Health Centres

There are 13 Community Health and Resource Centres located across Ottawa, offering a range of programs and services to support children and families.

Some Community Health Centres have free homework clubs. Locate the Centre closest to you to ask about after school services.

Online

Homework Help is a free website, funded by the Ontario government, that provides live math help from certified math teachers for students taking Grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 math.

The free math tutoring portion of the website is available Sunday through Thursday from 5:30PM to 9:30PM (during the school year). All other aspects of the website are available at any time. Register today to get free help.

SOS Devoirs is a homework assistance service for students in Grades 1 to 12 in French-language schools. (In French only)

Private services

High school, college and university students can offer tutoring services in your home for a cost. They often post their services online and put posters in schools.

There are several private companies that offer paid tutoring services. Look online for tutoring companies.

Pursuing Your Education

Adult Education

Continuing education

Adults in Ottawa may decide to pursue education for several reasons:

  • obtain an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) (High school)
  • career advancement
  • earn prerequisites for post-secondary education or training, including apprenticeship
  • improve grades for post-secondary education or training, including apprenticeship
  • gain or update job-related skills
  • achieve personal satisfaction

In Ottawa, there are several institutions that offer different types of programs for adults free of charge. The Credit and Equivalency Guide provides a comparison chart of several options available to you.

The Independent Learning Centre offers many credit courses to do at home. Services are free. To find classes in your area, call Employment Ontario (1-800-387-5656), TTY (telephone service for the deaf) 1-866-533-6339. You can also search under "Adult High School Credit Programs" on the Employment Ontario website.

Students in an adult education class.

Literacy and Essential Skills program

Many organizations offer literacy and essential skills programs for adults in Ottawa free of charge. The literacy and essential skills programs help adults with: reading comprehension, writing, basic Math and computer skills. For a list of places where these programs are available, visit The Guide to Ottawa’s Literacy and Basic Skills Providers.

Online learning

The LearningHUB offers online literacy, basic and essential skills upgrading through three flexible learning options. Learners can participate in live classes (scheduled for a specific date and time) or Independent Study Courses (available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week). Learners can also register for Blended Study which is a combination of Live Classes and Independent Study Courses.

E-Channel is a Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) funded initiative that provides online learning for Ontario adults, including those with barriers to participating in on-site programming. E-Channel programming enables adults to participate in Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) and Academic Upgrading (AU) programming.

For more information:

Recognition of your Foreign Credentials

Some newcomers run into difficulties in having employers properly evaluate their educational qualifications and skills. In part, this is because it is almost impossible for employers to understand fully the qualities and characteristics of educational systems and apprenticeship programs that vary significantly from one country to another. A number of organizations, however, do specialize in evaluating foreign credentials and translating them into Canadian equivalents.

  • World Education Services (WES) translates educational credentials from any country in the world into a Canadian equivalent. It describes each certificate, diploma or degree that you have earned as well as their academic equivalency in Canada.
  • Employment and Social Development Canada has a Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) program that helps internationally trained workers make a smoother transition into the Canadian workforce.
  • International Credentials Assessment Service (ICAS) of Canada - Evaluates credentials from secondary schools, post-secondary schools and technical qualifications. They describe the education you did outside of Canada and compare it to Canadian education.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Education has an online Guide for Foreign-Trained Trades people that explains which trades require certification and helps trades people to get recognition of their foreign qualifications and experience.
  • Ontario Immigration has information about recognized trades and regulated professions that may be of help to you when you arrive in Canada.
  • The Ontario Network for International Professionals (ONIP) provides licensing and employment information for internationally trained engineers, accountants, teachers and health care professionals.
  • The Lebanese and Arab Social Services Agency (LASSA) provides a Clearing House of Credentials Assessment Services to assist labour destined immigrants with their professional development. This is achieved through case management and group facilitation processes.

Visit the “Finding a job” section of the Portal for more information on employment.

Bridging program

Bridge Training Programs can help you if you have education and work experience, and want to work in your field in Ontario.

Ontario Bridge Training programs help skilled newcomers get their license or certificate in their profession or trade, so that they can find employment in Ontario. The Government of Ontario funds employers, colleges and universities, occupational regulatory bodies and community organizations to deliver bridge training programs, with support from the Government of Canada.

For more on training and apprenticeship opportunities, visit this section of the Portal.

What bridge training programs do?

Each bridge training program is unique, but in general, they are designed to give internationally trained individuals:

  • an assessment of their education and skills
  • clinical or workplace experience
  • skills training or targeted academic training
  • preparation for a license or certification examination
  • occupation-related language training
  • individual learning plans to identify any added training needed

Visit the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, for a list of bridge training programs by sector.

Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has introduced an Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program, which provides bursaries of up to $5,000 to internationally trained individuals participating in eligible Ontario Bridge Training programs offered by Ontario colleges and universities. These bursaries cover participants’ direct education costs not covered by the Ontario Student Assistance Program. Such costs can include tuition, books and equipment. For more information, including a list of who is eligible for Ontario Bridge Training programs, visit the OBPAP webpage here.

Learn English or French

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes are funded by the government of Canada and provided free of charge to eligible newcomers who need to improve their language skills.

Who is eligible for LINC? 

Newcomers who meet the following criteria:

  • Permanent Resident of Canada (Landed Immigrant) or Convention Refugee
  • Adult newcomer, older than school-leaving age

There are several places in Ottawa that offer LINC classes.

However, to register for a LINC class, newcomers must get their existing language level assessed. After the assessment, they will be referred to a LINC class.

For more information, visit the Language Assessment and Resource Centre section.

Language Assessment and Resource Centre

The government of Canada provides language training free of charge to eligible newcomers to Canada who need to improve their language skills. These trainings are often referred to as LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) classes.

In Ottawa, the YMCA-YWCA Language Assessment and Resource Centre (LARC) is the centralized screening, assessment, referral and resource centre for LINC-eligible clients. They provide language assessment services for newcomers to determine their existing level of language proficiency, and refer clients to LINC training sites in the Ottawa area.

At the Centre certified Language Assessors administer the standardized Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA), the Canadian Language Benchmarks Literacy Assessment (CLBLA), the Canadian Language Benchmarks Placement Test (CLBPT) and the Entrevue d' Évaluation Cours de langue pours les immigrants au Canada (É-CLIC).

Following the assessment, language benchmarks are assigned and clients are referred to LINC programs.

To make an appointment for a language assessment, Please call: (613) 238-5462.

You will need to bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • Proof of status in Canada
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of age

English/French as a Second Language (ESL/FSL)

For immigrants who are not qualified for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes, there are other programs that can help them improve their English and French.

These programs, often referred to as English as a Second Language (ESL) and French as a Second Language (FSL) or simply Conversation Groups, are offered by many organisations such as, schools, settlement agencies, libraries, churches and private institutions.

The easiest ways to find such program is simply by doing some research online for “ESL Ottawa” or “FSL Ottawa” or contact a settlement agency or your local library.

Teacher writing Parlez-vous Francais? (do you speak French?) on chalkboard.

Ottawa Welcome Event for International Students

Each year, thousands of students from more than 150 countries arrive in Ottawa to pursue their studies. The City would like to invite all international students to the Ottawa Welcome Event for International Students. We have planned a great event for you, filled with useful information, entertainment and fun. You'll be able to:

  • Connect with students from various colleges and universities
  • Meet Mayor Jim Watson and other elected officials
  • Learn about topics of interest such as immigration and employment

Date:  Saturday, March 3, 2018
Time:  Noon to 4:30 pm
Place:  Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa
Cost: The event is FREE but you must register!

Register 

Register online as of Tuesday, February 6 at 11 am. The event will fill up quickly so be sure to register on that day.

Event workshops

There are four workshops to choose from and you can pick two. At the end of each session, we will draw a prize!

  1. Immigration Process for International Students
    • Thinking about staying in Canada after you graduate? Officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and other experts will give you information about visas and applying for permanent residency.
  2. Ottawa Job Market and Opportunities
    • Are you interested in working in Canada and Ottawa? Find out about the types of jobs available in Ottawa and how to start your own business!
  3. Tips and Tricks for International Students
    • Do you want to have tips on every day life in Ottawa? Local settlement and community agencies are a great place to start. They have helpful services. Learn about Canadian culture, local volunteer opportunities and tips from a former international student!
  4. Understanding the Power of Your Personal Brand
    • You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Learn why your personal brand is a critical piece of your job hunt along with how you can influence the impression you make on others. A facilitated workshop to get you started – presented by RBC Royal Bank.

Francophone community connections

Join Ottawa’s Francophone community from 4:30 to 5:30 pm for an hour of socializing and networking in French:

  • Hear from community organizations
  • Meet with professionals from immigrant backgrounds and learn about the diversity and integration of Francophones in Ottawa

Our partners

This event would have not been possible without the funding of the Ontario government.

Government of Ontario logo

Many local partners contributed to the success of this event!

Platinum Sponsor

Universities and colleges

School boards

Settlement agencies

 Community Agencies

Got questions? We’ve got answers!

Registration

Q: When can I register?
A: Register online as of Tuesday, February 6 at 11 am. Register as soon possible as this event will fill up quickly! 

Workshops

Q: In what languages are the workshops?
A: The event is bilingual. Workshops will be in English with presentation materials in English and French. Students can ask questions in the language of their choice. There will be simultaneous interpretation where indicated in the registration form. 

Other

Q: What should I wear? Is there a dress code?
A: No, there is no dress code. Be casual, be fancy... either way, you will have a good time!

Q: How do I get to City Hall?
A: City Hall is located at 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, ON. It is downtown nearby OC Transpo bus stops MacKenzie King Bridge or Albert Street. Underground parking is available at City Hall for $2 on Saturdays.

Q: I missed the whole thing, can I still get the information?
A: The event website has a list of agencies and partners with links to their websites. Contact them directly and they will be happy to respond to your questions. They have programs that may interest you.

Q: I have more questions, who can I contact?
A: Email us at oweis@ottawa.ca or call 613-580-2400 ext. 24563.

Choose Ottawa - International Students

A welcoming cosmopolitan city for students

With a population of students originating from more than 150 countries, Ottawa is a pleasant, welcoming cosmopolitan city for international students. It is home to five postsecondary institutions offering quality education. During your stay, you will notice many of the things that the National Capital has to offer: a lively cultural and ethnic diversity, a high quality of life, affordable cost of living and education, employment opportunities during and after your studies, a safe environment, vibrant nightlife, various natural, cultural and recreational attractions, and a vibrant Francophone community.

A group of International students chatting at Ottawa City Hall.

Educational options

Ottawa hosts several internationally-recognized, high-quality post-secondary universities and colleges where you can study in English, French or both.

Universities and colleges

Ottawa offers 5 options for post-secondary education. When choosing a school consider what program of study interests you, the qualifications required for admissions, and costs.  For more information, visit Study in Ontario that has information for international students interested in attending college or university in Ontario.

Colleges

Colleges are post-secondary institutions that offer specialized programs that are directly relevant to the workplace.

Algonquin College is an English language college that offers certificates, diplomas, degrees and English and French as a Second Language programs.

La Cité collégiale is the largest French-language College in Ontario.

Universities

Universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Carleton University is an English language teaching and research institution offering dozens of program.

University of Ottawa is the largest English, French bilingual university in the world, where students can study in either or both languages.

St. Paul’s University is a bilingual university offering programs in French and English.

Affordable costs

Both diploma and degree programs are less expensive in Ottawa than other Canadian cities.

All living expenses for 8 months while studying for a college diploma costs:

Ottawa

Montreal

Toronto

Vancouver

$24,320

$25,100

$28,530

$28,380

An undergraduate university education in Ottawa costs at least $31,000, far less than other Canadian cities*

Ottawa

Montreal

Toronto

Vancouver

$31,030

$32,275

$34,400

$36,000

Great employment opportunities

Ottawa has a low overall unemployment rate (end of 2012).

Ottawa also has higher average salaries than many Canadian cities. The average salary in 2012 for people with a bachelor degree was:

 

Ottawa

Montreal

Toronto

Vancouver

Salary

$57,000

$45,400

$57,500

$46,900

Become a permanent resident

After graduating from your program, you have the opportunity to become a permanent Canadian Resident.

Study - International students

Getting a permit to study in Canada

The study permit is an essential document that must be obtained in order to study in Canada. Your permit will be issued once you have been admitted to a postsecondary institution. You must obtain it in your country, from a visa office at a Canadian embassy. You will be required to provide several documents; ensure that you correctly follow the procedures required by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Useful links:

Getting into a university or college

To be accepted by a Canadian university or college, you must first ensure that you are eligible to study in Canada. You should also know that each postsecondary institution in Ottawa has its own admission criteria. Take the time to assess your options before making your choice.

Useful links:

Once you have chosen your program of study, you must prepare your admission file, ensuring that you include all of the requested documents: academic transcript, proof of language skills, health exam, and financial solvency. Please consult the admission criteria for the program you have chosen. Each institution sets a deadline for the receipt of your admission form.

Links for admission to Ottawa area colleges and universities:

Algonquin College students working on computer.

Live - International students

Arriving in Ottawa

When you arrive in Ottawa from another country, you need to bring:

  • your passport with a Canadian entry visa or temporary resident visa
  • a copy of your letter of acceptance from the college or university you will be attending
  • the Study Permit issued by the Canadian Consulate or High Commission in your home Country
  • evidence that you have enough money to live in Canada as a student
  • a list of any packages or items you are sending separately

For more detailed information, including how to get from the airport to the college or university go to:

Adjusting to life in Ottawa

Arriving in a new country and new city like Ottawa involves a time of transition. This transition can be exciting but also difficult.  You may face many challenges including unfamiliar situations, confusion, frustration and culture shock.

Most Ottawa universities and colleges have an international student office that can help you as you make your transition into the city. They can connect you to student groups on campus and other resources in the city that will help you adjust to your new home.  They also offer orientation sessions for new international students.  Some even have a Facebook group you can join before arriving in Ottawa.

For more information, see the institutions' international students' page:

Carleton University has an International Student Guide that provides many excellent resources for making a transition to studying and living in Ottawa.

Living in four seasons

Canada has four well defined seasons. Winter is often challenging for newcomers to Canada, however it can be an enjoyable season, if you are prepared for it. For more information, visit the "Ottawa's climate and environment" section.

Housing

You can live on campus or off campus. 

On campus

Usually on campus housing is less expensive.  However, space is limited so you must apply early.  

To learn about living on campus, look at:

Off campus

Living off campus can allow you to explore the city in different ways.  But you should learn the basics of housing in Ottawa.  To learn how to rent in Ottawa, check out the housing section of the Portal.

Each university and college also offers guidance on housing.

Students moving in to the university campus.

Cost of living

Expenses

In Canada an academic year begins in September and ends in April. 

University

The estimated cost for one academic year (8 months) at university is:

Expense

Estimated Cost

Undergraduate tuition for international students

$ 17,720 - 21,650

Graduate tuition for international students

$ 11,300 - 17,700

Related student fees (incidental fees)*

$ 625 - 955

Housing (from $650 to $800 per month)

$ 5,200 - 6,400

Food (approximately $85 per week)

$2,600

Compulsory health insurance (UHIP)**

$685 -770

Books and other supplies

$1,200

Clothing, entertainment, and other items

$2,000

Communications (telephone, Internet)

$1,000

*Incidental fees include the mandatory university transit pass for students.

** As an international student you must pay health insurance through your university or college. These plans vary in cost.

College

For college, the average cost for 8 months is:

Expense Ottawa

Estimated Cost

College tuition for international students

$ 11-800-12,600

Housing (from $650 to $800 per month)

$ 5,200 - 6,400

Food (approximately $85 per week)

$2,600

Books and other supplies

$800-1,200

Clothing, entertainment, and other items

$2,000

Transportation

$921

Communications (telephone, Internet)

$1,000

Cost of shopping

Ottawa offers great shopping. Here is an estimate of clothing costs in Ottawa.  Note that Ontario has a sales tax of 13% on most goods and services purchased that is applied at time of purchase.

Clothing

Estimated cost

Shirt, blouse

$25-$60

Trousers, jeans

$40-$80

Dress

$70-$170

Men's suit

$150-$350

Winter sweater

$50-$90

Rain coat

$60-$210

Winter coat

$75-$300

Shoes

$40-$120

Winter boots

$85-$225

For more detailed information on cost of living in Ottawa, visit the Cost of living in Ottawa section of the Portal.

Transportation

OC Transpo

Ottawa public transit, called OC Transpo, is a convenient and affordable way to get around the city.  Most students receive a Universal Transit Pass (called the U-Pass) if you attend Algonquin College, Carleton University, Saint Paul University, or University of Ottawa. It is a part of your student fees. It allows you to use all OC Transpo within Ottawa from September 1 to April 30.

Car share

Ottawa has a car share program. By joining, you can have access to over 100 cars that are parked throughout Ottawa. It is a great way to have use of a car for getting around the city. For more information, please visit vrtucar.

Bike share

Ottawa also has a bike rental program where you can pick up a bike from any of the 15 locations in the city to cycle to wherever you need to go. For more information look at Velogo.

Outside of Ottawa

Ottawa International Airport has direct flights to Paris, London, Frankfurt, New York, Washington, Chicago, Florida, Mexico and all major Canadian cities.  You can also travel from Ottawa via train or bus  to Montreal (2 hours away), Toronto (5 hours) or New York (7 hours).

For more information on transportation, visit the “Getting around the city” section of the Portal.

Cultural activities

Find your own community

Each college and university has international student groups.  Check with the international student offices. Many student groups on campus also have Facebook pages that you can connect with before arriving.

Explore Ottawa and Canada

Ottawa has over 100 cultural festivals every year, including the Bluesfest, Jazzfest, Winterlude, Dragon Boat Festival and many others. It is also the home of the National Arts Centre, the National Art Gallery of Canada and great museums and theatres.

Ottawa is a great city for the physically active. It has one of the biggest running race weekends in Canada, the longest outdoor skating rink in the world, good bike-paths in the city and is close to beautiful hills for hiking and skiing.

For more information on cultural activities, visit the "Arts, heritage and culture" and "Recreation and parks" sections.

Work - International Students

Off-campus employment requires an off-campus work permit, available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Web site. Several conditions must be met: Be registered full-time in a recognized institution, maintain an acceptable academic average, have a valid social insurance number.

Useful links:

Find a job

Obtaining an off-campus work permit during your studies does not necessarily guarantee you a job. A job search is an important step that will help you familiarize yourself with Ottawa's job market culture. Employment centres are available in the universities and colleges.

A job on a university or college campus does not require a study permit. However, you must be registered as a full-time student and have a valid study permit and social insurance number. 

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Handicapped woman in wheelchair in an office working on a computer.