The uncertainty has the greatest impact on students who are in the middle of the application process. Companies that provide study abroad consulting with an emphasis on Canada will suffer the most if the dispute progresses further.
In the midst of students scrambling for information on the Canada scenario, Indian higher education forums are advising them to choose universities in the United Kingdom and the United States as alternatives. As diplomatic tensions with Canada rise, it is unclear how the latter would react to India’s suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens.
According to counselors at these companies, the North American country, which is one of the top higher education destinations for Indian students, has recently dropped down the list.
With effect from September 21, 2023, the Indian government has discontinued visa services for Canadian nationals indefinitely. The uncertainty around a potential reciprocal move by the Canadian government has placed students in a state of dread and panic, whether they are planning to study in Canada, in the middle of the application process, or have already enrolled.
“The first and second days were quite difficult. We left the office at about 1 a.m. last night (September 21). “There was a lot of panic,” Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO of Leverage Edu, told Moneycontrol.
After the news emerged, questions from students who have established in Canada or who have gotten a visa and are about to travel to the country poured in. According to him, students are now apprehensive that if the situation escalates, Indian students will be safe in Canada.
He went on to say that the questions have subsided somewhat because the Canadian government vowed to safeguard the safety of all communities in the country, and colleges have gone on record to address such concerns.
The study abroad soonicorn, a firm that will soon be worth a billion dollars, established a helpline number to which any inquiries about the Canada-India row are sent. “About 250-300 people have called us in the last 14 to 16 hours and that is when it has significantly eased off given positive communication from in the Canadian government,” Chaturvedi added.
However, he believes that the recent diplomatic spat between the two nations could reduce demand for Canada as a top study destination for many students traveling overseas for higher education at least this year.
“Students who applied for Canadian visas will await the outcome.” The autumn intake is nearly complete, so those with visas will most likely continue. However, there could be some uncertainty regarding the upcoming spring intake in January. “We’ll have to wait and see how things develop and whether visa processing remains efficient,” said Ankur Dhawan, President of upGrad Abroad.
He went on to say that the latest student inquiries reflect the drop in applicant demand. “We used to receive a lot of questions about Canada. However, Canadian inquiries have decreased in the last 3-4 days. People who were intending to visit Canada are now looking at other options, according to Dhawan.
Indian students in Canada
India is a critical market for Canada, which has gained substantial traction in recent years among Indian students wishing to study abroad.
According to data given by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), about 2,26,450 Indian students will enter Canada for higher education in 2022.
Indeed, Gaurav Batra, CEO and Founder of the Infinite Group, a company that provides study abroad solutions, previously told Moneycontrol that Canada, which relies on international students for 25% of its GDP, must prioritize eliminating travel and visa uncertainty.
Counselors and universities urge that students wait out the current intake season until there is more clarity on what comes next.
What students can do?
“We’ve even talked to a number of university partners there.” “They have said that nothing will be impacted, but there may be visa delays, so we would advise people applying for the summer intake to apply for the autumn intake,” Chaturvedi added.
Those who wish to continue applying for the same intake season might consider delaying their application to a nicer location right now, according to Chaturvedi.
On September 21, Leverage Edu issued an advisory that stated, “…as of right now, we are suspending all new applications to Canada until there is more clarity.” We are asking our pupils to change their plans to the United States or the United Kingdom if possible.”
According to Dhawan of upGrad Abroad, given such recent events, the tendency of exploring other nations would definitely intensify this season. “Students are also interested in European economies such as Germany, France, Finland, and even Greece and Italy.” “These countries provide comparable permanent residency benefits,” he adds.