Cheaper education costs than in the US and close links with Hong Kong make the country a favourite choice for many
McGill University (21)
Location Montreal, Quebec
Areas of excellence Science, medicine, engineering
McGill is an English-speaking university in the heart of Montreal, the largest city in French-speaking Canada. A cultural crossroads, it brings English- and French-speaking Canadians together with students from more than 140 other countries. It is named after James McGill, a Scottish immigrant who prospered in Montreal. The first buildings were constructed in 1843. The university has 104 buildings on a campus of over 32 hectares, including 24 heritage properties. McGill has more than 32,000 students, nearly 22,000 of whom are undergraduates. Almost 54 per cent are native English speakers, and close to a fifth speak French as a first language. Close to 19 per cent of undergraduates are from overseas. There is more to life at McGill than academics. Two-thirds of students take part in physical activities and the university has more than 100 clubs and a student theatre company.
University of Toronto (37)
Location Toronto, Ontario (main campus)
Areas of excellence Medicine, science, humanities
King's College, the precursor of the University of Toronto (U of T), was established in 1827. It has an endowment fund of more than C$1.3 billion ($8.2 billion). Its library is the fifth largest among North American universities'. It has 60,000 students, 9 per cent of them international, and 9,000 faculty and staff. U of T has produced groundbreaking achievements such as the discovery of insulin, the first electronic pacemaker, the chemical laser, the infant cereal Pablum and the single lung transplant. It has six Nobel Prize winners, more than any other Canadian university. According to the United Nations, Toronto is the world's most ethnically diverse city.
University of British Columbia (46)
Location Vancouver, British Columbia
Areas of excellence Physical and life sciences; Asian studies; environmental studies
Established in 1908, the University of British Columbia (UBC) has more than 50,000 students, including 35,000 undergraduates. There are 4,000 international students from 120 countries. It has an endowment of C$633.8 million ($4 billion). Strong in research, UBC has filed more US patents than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. It has two Nobel Prize winners to its credit. A second campus, in the Okanagan Valley, opens this year and will focus on region-centred research and international learning opportunities.