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86 per cent decline in applications from India for study permits to Canada after recent row

Canada's High Commissioner to India Cameron Mackay recently said notwithstanding the recent tensions, the strategic interests of India and Canada are "absolutely aligned", and he was encouraged by the continuance of the bilateral trade and investment relationship.

Anurag Roushan Edited By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan Ottawa (Canada) Published on: January 17, 2024 8:39 IST
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Canada experienced a significant decline in the issuance of study permits to Indian students towards the end of last year. The drop was attributed to India expelling Canadian diplomats responsible for processing these permits, coupled with a reduced number of applications from Indian students amid a diplomatic dispute related to the murder of a Sikh separatist terrorist in Canada.

What did Canadian Minister say on matter?  

In an interview with Reuters, Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller anticipated that the issuance of study permits to Indian students is unlikely to rebound in the near future. Notably, the diplomatic tensions between the two nations escalated following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's assertion in June, claiming evidence linking Indian government agents to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.

"The tensions are likely to weigh on the numbers going forward...Our relationship with India has really halved our ability to process a lot of applications from India," Miller told Reuters. The minister further claimed that Canada was compelled to withdraw 41 diplomats, constituting two-thirds of its staff in India, following directives from New Delhi. These developments resulted in an 86% decrease in the issuance of study permits to Indians in the fourth quarter of the previous year compared to the preceding quarter. The official data, not reported previously, indicates a decline from 108,940 to 14,910 study permits issued during this period.

Indian students looking options other than Canada

C Gurus Ubramanian, counsellor for the High Commission of India in Ottawa, noted that certain Indian international students are considering options other than Canada due to recent concerns about the "lack of residential and adequate teaching facilities" at some Canadian institutions. According to reports, Indians have formed the largest group of international students in Canada in recent years, with more than 41% - or 225,835 - of all permits going to them in 2022.

"I can't tell you about how the diplomatic relationship will evolve, particularly if police were to lay charges...It's not something that I see any light at the end of the tunnel on," Miller added. Notably, International students are a cash cow for Canadian universities as they bring in about C$22 billion ($16.4 billion) annually and slowdown will be a blow to the institutions.

Canada govt plans to reduce number of foreign students 

The Canadian government also has been seeking to reduce the overall number of international students entering the country, in part as a response to an ongoing housing shortage. "Right now we have a challenge with the sheer volume of students coming in. It's just gotten out of control and needs to be reduced - I would say - significantly over a short period of time," Miller added. He also stated that the government would introduce other measures to lower the volume of international students during the first half of this year, including a possible cap. 

It should be mentioned here that Canada is a popular destination for international students since it is relatively easy to obtain work permits after finishing courses. The Canadian government already plans curbs on the number of off-campus work hours for international students, which the food service and retail industries fear could cause labour shortages.

(With inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ: Canada mulling to cap entry of international students, migrants amid house shortage


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