Visa Crunch

Canada Sets Record For Permit Issuing, Diversification Measures Hampered

According to IRCC figures, the number of study permits granted to Indian citizens in Canada more than doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year. A total of 447,085 study licenses went into force in 2021, up from 400,920 the year before the pandemic.

Last year’s data broke the record for the newest study permits issued. However, it is unclear whether all of these students were in the nation when their visas were valid. In March, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told a Language Canada conference that Canada had “brought in 300,000 overseas students by 2021.”

According to the Canadian Bureau for Foreign Education, the future of international education in Canada is bright.

“At the end of 2021, Canada saw a return to pre-pandemic numbers of international students, demonstrating our sector’s commitment to welcoming students back on our campuses in a safe and timely manner,” Melissa Payne, director of Membership, Research and Learning, said.

Canada is still viewed as a safe and stable country that is ‘open and inviting,’ and these are crucial criteria in student decision-making.”

Canadian politicians continue to emphasise the importance of international students and migrants to the current administration’s goals, with Fraser declaring that the arrival of young people will help Canada overcome its “demographic challenge.”

Students also have a favourable perception of Canada’s pandemic response, particularly sector efforts to develop a responsive and flexible immigration policy framework, which has continued to increase interest in our country as a study destination.

“In a world economy increasingly powered by ideas, Canada is in an enviable – if still assailable – position globally,” Marc LeBlanc, senior government and international relations officer at Universities Canada said.

“We are a country of open communities, we have an accessible, world-class, bilingual post-secondary education system. We also have strong public support for international students and have maintained a policy environment that is welcoming to international students and encourages them to build a life in Canada.”

Alex Usher, Founder and CEO of Higher Education Strategy Associates, cautioned that the latest IRCC data source should be “interpreted with a lot of care.”

“My initial thought is that these stats are ‘visas issued’,” he said.

“We don’t know how much of this is a genuine permanent increase in demand and how much of it is making up for 2020 and how much of it is about processing a backlog. Like, the five biggest months for visa issuance in history were August through December. Wait another six months, before getting too excited would be my advice.”

Conversely, the figures may cause some people to be concerned about the diversification of Canada’s international student population. Canada’s 2019 strategy included a number of priorities, one of which was broadening the source countries from which international students come to Canada, as well as their fields, degrees of study, and location of study within Canada.

According to LeBlanc, Canada’s strength is its wide range of high-quality institutions across the country. Payne said that the bulk of students come from India and China, with “nascent growth in numbers of international students entering from rising countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Mexico, Colombia, and Algeria.”

Universities Canada is “proposing that the federal government increase investments in the foreign education plan in order to continue promoting Canada’s image as a worldwide study destination in priority markets,” which will aid market diversification initiatives.

Payne went on to say that virtual recruitment activities have allowed universities to broaden “their reach and contacts with potential students in nations and places not generally accessible by traditional recruiting efforts.” This has been beneficial to institutional diversification efforts.

Through their “holistic approaches to developing responsibility and promoting inclusive environments on campus and throughout the larger community,” Canada’s institutions, governments, and sector players are assisting in addressing the problems that international students face.

Usher stated that Canada’s high numbers from India and China are “not considerably different from Australia or New Zealand.”

“European countries have access to a more diverse student body because they have ex-empires in Africa which are sort of captive markets (e.g France, UK) or they have what you might call intellectual hinterlands (Germany has lots of students from Eastern Europe, Russia has them from the ‘stans, the US from Latin America, etc),” he said.

“We don’t, and neither do (Sic) Australia or New Zealand, so we concentrate on the two big markets outside those hinterlands.

“The government of Canada’s international educational strategy has close to zero impact on institutional recruitment activities,” Usher suggested. “Any statements about wanting a more balanced intake are not much more than pious phrases. Institutions go where it is easiest to enrol students and make money, and at the moment, that destination is India.”

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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