January 2024 \ Business & Investment \ Business and Governance

By Meenakshi Iyer

New Delhi: The Indian demand for Canadian education declined significantly with the number of study permit applications processed going down by more than 40 per cent since July 2023, according to a newly-released data. The Canadian government processed almost 146,000 new study permit applications for Indian nationals from July to October 2002.

But across the same period in 2023, it processed fewer than 87,000, representing a year-over-year decrease of 41 per cent, data released by ApplyBoard, an online platform for international student recruitment, said.

This means that almost 60,000 fewer student visas were processed for Indian students from July to October 2023 than over the same period in 2022. From January to June 2023, the Canadian government processed 25 per cent more study permit applications from Indian students than it did over the same period in 2022. The sharp drop comes even as the Canadian government announced last month that it will more than double the cost-of-living financial requirement for incoming international students beginning January 1, 2024.

So going forth, a single applicant will need to show they have 20,635 Canadian dollars ($15,181) in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs.

Negative sentiment on social media

While it remains to be seen how the announcement will impact international students in terms of numbers, the reason for the drop in later part of 2023 was attributed to a growing number of Indian students taking on to social media to speak about the hardships they faced in Canada, specifically calling out the high cost of living and lack of opportunity promised.

The ApplyBoard found that between April and August of 2023, the number of articles written about housing in Canada increased fivefold versus the same period last year. Additionally, the percentage of content flagged as negative rose from 12 to 30 per cent, with Indian students’ financial hardships and unemployment challenges a consistent theme.

In September 2023, students from Punjab actively took to ‘X’ to speak about skyrocketing house rents in the country, which was forcing many of them to stay in cramped basement setups, compromising their safety. With the rising cost of living, many said they were finding it hard to meet their daily needs and were forced to seek monetary help from parents back home. A social media user studying in the country spoke about how he was sharing a basement setup with six other students.

According to the government data, there is a shortfall of at least 3,45,000 housing units across Canada. “If the conditions in Canada persist, a long-term depression of Indian student demand is possible,” the ApplyBoard report said.

The impact of India-Canada row

The data further said it is unlikely that the India-Canada relations, which nosedived following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims in September 2023, will depress the volume of study permit applications processed from India. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC), 80 per cent of study permit applications from Indian students processed between August and November were processed within three weeks.

“This suggests that despite the disruption in Canadian visa services due to the dispute, IRCC is prioritising study permit processing,” the data highlighted. Indians take the lion’s share of foreign students in Canada Of about 8,00,000 international students currently studying in Canada, 3,20,000 are from India, and students from Punjab roughly make up about 70 per cent of them. According to an IRCC release, international education accounts for more than 22 billion Canadian dollars ($16 billion) in economic activity annually.

This is greater than Canada’s exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft, and supports more than 200,000 jobs in Canada, the release said. The ApplyBoard insights suggested that if the Canadian government continues to take decisive policy actions that put students first, the country can return to 10 to 20 per cent year-over-year growth in demand from Indian students.

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