Ok, according to our immigration lawyer in Toronto, the biggest difference between the two schools academically were class sizes. I went from my first year with the biggest classes of about 1000 students, to the fewest: about 300. At University of British Columbia, the class sizes rarely exceed 200. This is important because it meant that a lot of time I was spending time talking to TA’s at University of Toronto and got little to no face time with the professors. The only interactions would be during 2 hour lectures, and TA’s would do all the marking, evaluating, and further instruction/answering questions. That also reinforces the “students as merely a number”.
It also depends on what you plan on studying. University of Toronto is known as “U of Tears” and that speaks to the workload and difficulty of the courses there. On the other hand, I myself am studying Psychology at University of British Columbia and I find the constant scaling down of grades very frustrating and difficult as well.
While at U of T, I also noticed a sense of superiority there. People complained about how much harder they had it compared to other schools (since it’s ranked number 1 in Canada), and professors often poked fun at lesser schools (Ryerson, York, UNBC). Whether this was a joke or not, it was quite commonplace at U of T.
In terms of nightlife, I’m assuming you’re attending the St. George Campus in Toronto and that’s smack in the middle of the downtown area. Toronto is known for its nightlife, and being downtown, it’s going to be super convenient for you. BUT, during first year, everyone is partying and socializing and trying to make friends so I don’t think there is much of a difference there. One thing to note is that since U of T holds more prestige or whatever, I find that there are a lot more people from diverse backgrounds to attend the school. I’m assuming you’ll be living on residence, so you’ll get a chance to meet a fair amount of people from all over the world.
The first year residences are vastly different for UBC and U of T as well. UBC only has two first year residences (Vanier and Totem), so everyone around you will be in their first year. At U of T, residences are split into “colleges”, and then within the colleges are more specific buildings for first years. The latter is probably more integrative as you can interact with upper year students during events and whatnot. Res life varies across colleges, some are more known for partying while others are known for more studious kids.
UBC is also a very good school in Canada, however most people feel that McGill and U of T are better. This depends on what you want to go into though. If you are interested in environmental science, plant and animal sciences, agricultural sciences, and even just environment/ecology, then UBC is an ideal choice, especially due to its location in Vancouver, a city that surround itself with nature. However, this is not to say that UBC is not good at other areas of study, it still does very well in other subjects/fields of study, however it’s just that UBC is notable for their environmental education.