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Canada and UK are not as rosy

As the trend of the Australia dream has also given birth to Canada and United Kingdom (UK) dreams as an option, people are now increasingly trying out for both Canada and UK. However, the reality is quite different with people having to battle high living standards.

Representatives from 21 prominent Canadian universities and colleges visited Bhutan to showcase education opportunities in Canada during the 2nd EduCanada delegation to Thimphu.

The participating universities and colleges highlighted the courses they offer, scholarship, information on student experience, accessibility, affordability, and career paths to potential students from Bhutan.

Delegates from colleges, such as Fleming College in Ontario, Cambrian College in Sadbury, and Centennial College in Toronto were some of the prominent colleges in the delegation.

This event was held on 26 and 27 July where a huge rush of students and parents were seen visiting to explore options in Canada.

The sheer number of visitors cemented the fact that the new trend will be Canada. According to students who visited education fair, Canada is more affordable than Australia.

As Canada is cheaper, in terms of tuition fees for similar courses offered in Australia, people are now opting to study in Canada.

This is also the reason why students want to opt for UK, as the tuition fees are cheaper.

However, those living in Canada and UK share that the reality is different.

According to Dorji, Canada maybe relatively cheaper, in terms of tuition fees, but the expenditure is very high. “The living standard here is very high and with it comes, high expenses, high rentals and higher spending. If you get a good job, then living here is pretty nice, however, there is problems with getting jobs.”

He also pointed out that housing is a huge problem in Vancouver and the added difficulty of job procurement as Canada is a skill-based economy plays a huge role in financial burden for Bhutanese living in Canada.

Vancouver Sun, a daily broadsheet newspaper in April 2022 wrote despite city hall approving a record number of purpose-built rental housing in 2021, the combination of a growing population, high real estate prices, and rising rent, and declining rental vacancies is contributing to an ongoing crisis in housing affordability and availability.

This seems to be true, as Bhutanese students living in Vancouver are mostly living together, in a shared house to be able to afford housing expenses.

Deki, living in Ontario shares similar sentiments. “In a month, my rent is CAD 750 and for Internet provision, I have to pay CAD 20. This doesn’t include my groceries, transportation fees and leisure activities. If I were to calculate it in Ngultrum, just for rent and Internet, I’m paying almost Nu 48,000 in a month. It is really expensive here and even though I get a stipend, it is just CAD 1,100, where more than half of my stipend is used on rent.”

She also pointed out that, unlike Australia, it is expensive to be able to afford a car but as public transport is vibrant and cheap, she is able to save some expenses there.

The other downer about Canada is the extreme cold due to its location, especially in winter.

High cost of living is also the case for UK. Ugyen, who used to study in UK shared about the hurdles she faced while she was there. “UK is very expensive. The high living standard there means high rent, high cost of transportation and even higher cost for groceries. Even though I had a stipend that was given to me regularly, I had to work extra jobs to be able to afford the high cost of living in UK.”

Karma Sherub currently in UK studying shares the ups and downs of living there. “I could say that living here is quite nice as you get to learn a lot and expand your knowledge in every field possible. It widens your perspective on life. There’s a prospect of financial freedom, if you can land a good job. The downside could be heavy living expenses, such as bills, rent, and food. You have to come prepared financially, mentally, and emotionally.”

One of the education consultants in Bhutan said that choosing UK might not be a good choice. “If one’s goal is to work and earn, UK is not the choice. If you want to study, then UK offers a very good exposure and learning platform, but it is very expensive.”

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