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Number of Indian students in Canada crosses 100,000

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Number of Indian students in Canada crosses 100,000


The cumulative total of the number of Indian students attending Canadian colleges and universities over the last year has crossed 100,000 for the first time, even as those admitted in 2017 could make for a record high.

According to data for study permit holders by country of citizenship from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada attracted 31,975 international students originating from India in 2015. That number rose to 52,890 by the end of 2016, and it had already reached 44,855 by August this year, making it a near certainty that the inflow of students will be another record by the end of 2017.

Part of the reason for the surge in Indian students opting for higher education in Canada is the somewhat immigrant-unfriendly signals from the Donald Trump administration in the US.

Premier institutions like the University of Toronto (UofT) are among those that have benefited from this significant rise. The varsity has seen a nearly two-third increase in students from India.

Its vice-president international Professor Ted Sargent said: “I think there’s real intent on the part of this government to reach out globally and to continue to make Canada a welcoming nation, including at a time when not every other nation in the world is sending that signal. At UofT, we are in this special situation – we’re in Canada’s largest city, it’s incredibly multicultural and it’s an incredibly inviting city and we’re right at the heart of it.

“When other nations are going the other way, it’s even further to our advantage,” he said, referring to immigration.

Sargent is on his second visit to India, part of a “university-wide approach” that was introduced this year. “We go in the fall to raise interest amongst Indian prospective applicants and then we go typically around March and we follow up with these students; hopefully helping them make their finally decision.”

This strategy, he said was “certainly new for us and represents an increased emphasis on India engagement”.

Others who are involved in this sector of transnational movement of students have keenly observed this recent trend, as in the case of Ravi Jain, a leading immigration lawyer with the Toronto-based firm of Green and Spiegel LLP.

“I have seen a huge interest in Indian students whether they are from Indian families based in India or in the Middle East. US policy is certainly influencing the choice of Canada over the US,” he said.

Other than the prevailing “nativism” in the US, he said there was also the “hard reality” that “it takes many years to transition to a green card (in the US) whereas in Canada, most of my permanent resident cases fly through in about four months”.

And Canada seeks to make the most of this opening. As Sargent said: “To put a positive lens on it, Canada’s been a nation that celebrates multiculturalism, and that views immigration as a way to bring the best talent from around the world.”

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