University applications to Canada during the pandemic: FAQs

If you’re thinking of applying to universities in Canada, then here are some of the key things you need to know about applications during Covid-19

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Ken Withers

Director, office of student recruitment, University of Toronto
March 15 2021
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The pandemic has changed many things for universities and students but a few things haven’t changed. The University of Toronto and Canadian universities in general have continued to welcome newcomers, even those they cannot welcome in person until Covid-19 is behind us. Indeed, with its reputation as one of the world’s safest countries, Canada has long been a top destination for students worldwide. 

The University of Toronto now offers webcasts around the clock to keep students and their families up to speed on the latest developments during Covid-19, international transition guidance and, of course, admission requirements. If you have any questions about recruitment or application processes then admissions officers at your prospective university will be on hand to help.

Here are the answers to some questions students who are considering applying to study in Canada might have:

  1. Will exceptions be made if I’m unable to complete my English language test due to Covid-19?

Most Canadian universities offer several ways for applicants to provide evidence of adequate English facility. For example, applicants to the University of Toronto can find a list of all accepted tests and qualifications here.

In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the university now  accepts the Duolingo and TOEFL Special At Home Edition tests, which are great options for those unable to access in-person testing. Many other universities have made similar changes too.

  1. I’ve been unable to complete as many extracurriculars as I hoped – will that hurt my chances of applying?

Universities are aware that this year’s cohort has faced and continues to face extraordinary challenges and they understand that the extracurricular landscape has changed.

However, for those universities that require supplemental applications or information about extracurriculars, one thing remains unchanged: admissions teams are still looking for creativity and personality. In Canada, most supplemental applications are simply a way for universities to learn more about you. Anything from online classes and webinars to hobbies picked up during the pandemic will be a good way to demonstrate this on your application. 


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  1. Have there been any temporary changes to student visas or the student visa application process?

Admissions teams are monitoring any changes or updates to the visa application process for both current and future students. Applicants who have received acceptance letters are encouraged to monitor the international student page on the IRCC website for the most up-to-date information.

  1. How does the university accommodate students arriving from abroad?

So far, the University of Toronto has provided more than $8 million (£4.6 million) in emergency grants to more than 4,000 students to cover unexpected costs arising from Covid-19, and will continue to do what it can to support its students through these unprecedented times.

Currently, all international students are required to have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to arriving in Canada. And those arriving by air must stay at a  Canadian government-approved hotel near the airport while they wait for the results of a mandatory Covid-19 test taken upon arrival. Once they leave the airport, students will need to complete a further quarantine period, usually 10 days in duration. At the University of Toronto, for example, they can stay in university-provided accommodation or their own suitable location while adhering to specific regulations.

For more information on how Toronto is adapting to help students during the pandemic, visit the university’s website or indeed the website of any university to which you are applying.

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