Both ranked among the world’s top 10 study destinations in the QS Best Student Cities 2015, Canada’s two largest cities – and close rivals – are popular with students from all over the world. This will come as little surprise when you consider the high quality of life, diverse communities, unbeatable natural surroundings and unique culture blends that both Montréal and Toronto bring to the table.
For many prospective students, the proximity of the two cities (Montréal is in the French-speaking province of Quebec and Toronto in neighboring Ontario), their similarly attractive cultural offerings, and their closely matched representation in the international university rankings, makes for a tough choice.
Need help deciding whether to study in Montréal or Toronto? Read on to compare Canada’s two best student cities on factors such as tuition fees, location and culture – and choose your own winner in the battle of Toronto vs Montreal!
Toronto vs Montréal in the QS Best Student Cities 2015
In this year’s QS Best Student Cities index, Montréal moves up one into 8th position, while Toronto climbs four places to 9th. This strong performance reflects the high quality of life in these two leading Canadian cities, as well as their high-ranking universities, large and diverse student populations, and good reputation among graduate employers.
The index shows that Montréal’s internationally ranked universities have a significantly higher percentage of international students (27%) compared to those in Toronto (16%), while also charging lower international tuition fees, at US$14,300 per year compared to Toronto’s average of US$21,700.
But Toronto shouldn’t be batted to the wayside just yet. Indeed, it boasts Canada’s top-ranked university, the University of Toronto,which currently ranks20th in the world – one place higher than Montréal’s top institution, McGill University. Meanwhile in the “desirability” category (based on a number of indicators assessing quality of life), Toronto claims the highest score in the entire QS Best Student Cities index, while its rival comes 19th in this field.
However, in the majority of assessment categories, Montréal has a slight lead – resulting in its overall slightly higher rank, albeit by just one place. In short, the Toronto vs Montréal contest is a very close call. For most students, the final decision will come down to personal preferences, in terms of both academic offerings and cultural distinctions.
Life in Montréal
A beautiful city combining contemporary architecture with remnants of old European influence, Montréal offers old-world charm with an energetic North American feel. While the city offers cutting-edge innovation and dynamism, there remains a friendly and down-to-earth atmosphere, made all the more unique by the bilingual locals who can be overheard flitting fluently between French and English. Having been first a French colony and then a British one, the capital of Quebec reflects this dual heritage not only in its language, but also its food, style and general ethos.
With more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Canada, and an inordinate number of great eateries, Montréal is definitely a good choice for students on the foodie spectrum. But it’s not all about fine dining; café culture and big community events are also popular dishes on the menu. Every year the city’s calendar is packed with events ranging from music and comedy festivals to winter celebrations and sporting events, meaning that there really is never a dull moment in town.
As for nature, rural adventure is less than an hour from the city center. Hiking trails, horse riding tours, ski centers and cross-country slopes keep locals and tourists active throughout the year.
Life in Toronto
Located along the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is filled with glossy architecture, smooth-running public transport and sleek public spaces. A model city for the economic and cultural riches of English-speaking Canada, Toronto offers bounteous prospects for entrepreneurs and global businesspeople, all the while providing great culture, multicultural diversity and a forward-looking outlook.
The majority of major sights are located in the compact city center, from the gravity-defying CN Tower to the less obtrusive but no less inspiring Art Gallery of Ontario. While the city’s museums will fill you in on much Canadian history, the period homes dotted throughout its historic neighborhoods also offer a picture of Victorian and mock-Gothic styles.
The Distillery District is where many of the city’s arts and entertainment venues are located, and where all elements of the performing arts – theatre, dance, music and more – are nurtured and presented to the eager public. Clubs, cafés and restaurants also play a big part in shaping this social side of the city, allowing anyone new in town to enjoy a slowed down and authentic version of the city behind its fast-paced façade.
So who’s the winner of Toronto vs Montréal? That decision really has to come down to individual priorities. In neither city will you be lost for things to do and see; theatre, film, music, technology and other entertainments abound in both cities, though there are some differences in emphasis. Montréal offers bigger comedy festivals, for instance, while Toronto claims the larger international business sector.
If both cities sound equally as appealing on a personal level, consider how your studies will be affected. Will the innovative atmosphere of Toronto improve your entrepreneurial spirit, or will the foodie splendor of Montréal ensure you get all the nutrients you need to study hard?
You should also read up on universities in Montréal or Toronto you’re interested in, reviewing the course details and admission requirements listed on the official websites. Looking at each institution’s websites and social media platforms may also give you a better feel for the culture and student community, and a clearer sense of where you’ll feel most at home.