Some good news has come in for young Indians aiming to study in Canada. The number of new immigrations to be allowed into the country in 2017 was kept at 300,000, the same as 2016. However, though there was a drop in the intake of refugees, the targets for categories most used by Indians (economic and family unification classes) were raised.
Refugees and citizenship minister John McCallum also reportedly admitted recently that international students were being short-changed by unfriendly policies and laws that made it difficult for them to become Canadian citizens. An announcement would change things soon, he promised.
The minister admitted that international students were not treated well and that they were among the most promising group of immigrants – as they were young, could speak English or French and knew a lot about Canada. “We’re going to give them more points under express entry and make it easier for them to become permanent residents,” McCallum promised
However, even before these friendly moves, Canada’s new education policy in 2014 had marked India out as a priority country. Universities Canada (then the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) played an active role in consultations led by the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. It highlighted Canadian universities’ commitment to internationalisation and interest in a multi-faceted approach to international education, including two-way international student and faculty mobility, international research collaboration, joint academic programming etc. Universities Canada noted that the rapidly emerging economic powers (Brazil, China, India) were priority countries for many Canadian universities, which were also building people-to-people linkages and institutional partnerships with other emerging markets on the horizon. “The development of Canada’s International Education Strategy was informed by recommendations in the Advisory Panel’s final report,” a Universities Canada official said.
Recruiting top talent
The Canadian government was making a targeted effort to recruit top talent in India, so through various initiatives India’s students were being made aware of “Canada’s value proposition – a consistently high-quality education at an attractive price in a tolerant, diverse, safe and welcoming environment,” the official said
The numbers are growing. Between 2004-2005 and 2013-2014, the number of international students enrolled in Canadian universities almost doubled, from 66,000 to 124,000. Their population grew 88% between 2004-2005 and 2013-2014 even as the number of Canadian students grew by 22%.
When it came to individual source countries for Canada in 2013-2014, the top five were China (34.1%), France (7.6%), the United States (6.2%), India (5.7%), and Saudi Arabia (4.5%).
Popular fields of study
In 2013 (from the latest available data from Statistics Canada), the most popular fields of study for full-time international students from India were: architecture, engineering and related technologies (37%), business, management and public administration (22%), mathematics, computer and information sciences (12%) and physical and life sciences, and technologies (11%).
Canada was seen to be attractive for many reasons. The universities were known for high-quality, internationally-recognised education, regardless of size, location and area of focus, all at an affordable cost. English, French and bilingual universities ensured there were language barriers for English and French speakers.
Lifestyle counted too. Three Canadian cities – Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary – were among the world’s top five most livable cities, according to The Economist 2015 list. Montreal was also ranked high in 14th place. What were the problems that Indian students were likely to face? In a Quora response, Shilpa Isabella, a ‘Bangalorean in Toronto’ says the cold is hard to deal with. University is also no joke. “It is hard. B (minus) or 70% is the passing grade. In India, 70% was a distinction at my university, here it meant I barely scraped through. It doesn’t matter what course you take. Every class would need 100% commitment.”