Indian students avoid Canada amid diplomatic row, minister reports 86% decline

In the recent years, Indians constitute the largest contingent of international students in Canada, receiving over 41%, equivalent to 225,835 permits, in 2022 amidst the India-Canada diplomatic row.

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Prerit Chauhan
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PTC News Desk: Amidst a political row between India and Canada, the number of study permits issued to Indian scholars in Canada has witnessed a significant decline. The diplomatic strain escalated after India expelled Canadian diplomats and amid allegations linking Indian agents to the murder of Sikh preacher Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. Immigration Minister Marc Miller expressed doubts about a quick rebound in the number of study permits to Indians.

The political tensions, triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments connecting Indian agents to Nijjar's murder, resulted in Canada recalling a significant portion of its diplomats from India in October. The disagreement has also prompted Indian scholars to explore study options in other countries.

Official data, not previously reported, reveals an 86 per cent drop in study permits issued to Indians in the fourth quarter of the last year, falling from 108,940 to 14,910. The strained relationship has impacted the ability to conduct operations in India, according to Miller.

Gurus Ubramanian, counselor for the High Commission of India in Ottawa, highlighted concerns among Indian international students regarding the quality of education facilities at some Canadian institutions, further contributing to the decline in study permits.

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Canada, traditionally a favored destination for international scholars, particularly Indians, is grappling with challenges related to the sheer volume of incoming students. Miller stated that measures to address this issue, including a potential cap on the number of international students, will be introduced in the first half of this year.

The Canadian government aims to implement changes to postgraduate work permits and intends to crack down on 'fly-by-night' universities. Additionally, there are plans to limit the number of work hours for international students to avoid potential labor shortages in certain industries.

Despite these challenges, Canada anticipates a considerable influx of international students in 2023, with the government projecting around 900,000 international students, triple the number from a decade ago. While the number of permits for Indian students decreased slightly last year, they remain the largest group among international scholars in Canada. The future trajectory of this relationship and its impact on study permits remains uncertain, awaiting potential developments in diplomatic relations between India and Canada.

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