40% decline in applications from India for study permits to Canada in the second half of 2023
More and more international students have been posting on social media about the hardships they faced in Canada, specifically calling out the high cost of living and lack of opportunities promised
Toronto: The number of students from India applying to study in Canada has dropped dramatically in the second half of this year. For the period from July to October, the number of applications for new study permits from India dropped from a total of 145,881 last year to just 86,562 in the same period of 2023, a decline of nearly 40%.
This fall in applications is not linked to the cratering relationship between India and Canada, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons about “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents of the killing of Khalistani figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar only came on September 18, when the trend was already apparent.
The falling application numbers were first reported by the outlet Better Dwelling, which noted that it was “more likely” that the “discussion on Canada’s exploitation of international students became a bigger issue ahead of this rift”. “More and more international students have been posting on social media about the hardships they faced in Canada, specifically calling out the high cost of living and lack of opportunities promised,” it said.
The figures for study permits were verified by the Hindustan Times from data sourced from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
The outlet said, “When policymakers first pitched the idea of limiting students to help affordability, it appears they were attempting to save face. The public hadn’t seen the data yet, but they were already aware of a sharp decline in people desiring to study in Canada.”
In August, Canada’s Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser had said that placing a cap on how many international students the country takes in was “one of the options that we ought to consider”.
The decline is also evident in the annual intake figures: In 2022, the number of applications received by IRCC from Indian students was at 363,541, up from 236,077 in 2021. The total for 2023, till October, is at 261,310. With Indians comprising nearly half of international students in Canada, that deceleration in applications is reflected in the overall numbers as well, total applications last year stood at 736,166 and is on pace for the slowest growth in years, with the number at 724,611, again till October. Better Dwelling commented, “It’s on track to fall to single-digit growth by year-end, a big change from 2022 (+33%), and 2021 (+152%). This decline is almost exclusively a fallout with the country’s largest source of students — India.”
This is the first decline in international student applications from India since the Covid-19 pandemic. And growing tension in the relationship between India and Canada is unlikely to improve the situation.