Amidst acute housing affordability crisis fuelled by accommodation demand by foreign students, Canada is considering a cap on the number of international students allowed to live in the country, Immigration Minister Marc Miller has announced. The final intake numbers as well as date of implementation has not been announced yet.
According to official data the number of study permit holders in Canada has tripled in the past decade, from 300,000 in 2013 to nearly 900,000 in 2023..Among them, in 2022, Indian students accounted for around 40% of all enrolment, making them Canada’s largest international student group.
The Immigration minister announced a slew of new requirements for foreign students wanting to come study in Canada including proof of more accessible funds. Under the current system, prospective students must show that they have $10,000 in addition to money for their first year’s tuition and travel expenses. Under the new system, the $10,000 is increased to $20,635, according to a report by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The amount will be adjusted annually based on a Statistics Canada benchmark for living costs, the report added.
The intake curtailment announcement is not the sole deterrent for Indian students aspiring to study in Canada. Toronto Star recently reported that in the second half of 2023, nearly 40% of student visa applications from India were rejected, the highest refusal rate among all countries. The rejection reasons were categorised as ‘other’ or ‘unspecified’. Some visa applications are denied because the applicant doesn’t meet the financial requirement, or an officer may not believe the applicant will leave the country if they lose their status. It could also come down to an application being incomplete, a missing payment, or the submission of fraudulent documents.
With reduced intake and high visa application rejection rates, Canada might no longer be the most feasible study abroad destination. What are the other options for Indian students?
With students more concerned about affordability than ever before, Karunn Kandoi, Chief Experience Officer at ApplyBoard, predicts that in 2024 students will increasingly look at options beyond the big four (Canada, US, UK, Australia) to plot out a study abroad journey that fits their budget. Kandoi cites Ireland, South Korea and Taiwan as some of the top countries competing for international students this year, and explains the reasons for the growing popularity of these countries.
Ireland: Indian students are increasingly considering Ireland as a go-to study abroad destination. With all of its universities ranking among the top 3% globally, Ireland is known for its high-quality education. Additionally, Ireland’s focus on STEM and technology, strong support from government and institutions for international students, post-study work opportunities, and more affordable costs compared to other destinations make Ireland a stand out choice.
South Korea: During the summer of 2023, the South Korean Ministry of Education announced its South Korea 300K Project a collaborative strategy between institutions, local businesses, and government to attract 300,000 international students by 2027. This project aims to reduce language barriers by introducing more lenient testing measures and streamline permanent residency applications, allowing eligible students to obtain Permanent Residence (PR) after three years instead of six.
Taiwan: Taiwan is planning to recruit over 320,000 students by 2030 and increase its post-graduation retention rate from 40% to 70%. The Taiwanese Ministry of Education will also facilitate the establishment of special fast-track courses, especially in STEM fields, encompassing double bachelor programs, two-year bachelor degrees, and two-year master’s and doctoral programs, added Kandol.
Mamta Shekhawat, Founder, gradding.com, on the other hand, picks Malta, Hungary and Italy as very feasible options. “Hungary is a very good option because of affordability, quality, and variety of programs and renowned universities to choose from. Annual tuition fee in Hungary is about €2,000 with monthly accommodation rent being in the range of €90-150. Italy can also be a great choice – monthly rent ranges between €200 and €300 while the annual tuition fee is between €900 and €4,000. Malta is getting very popular, too. Here, the monthly rent is around €700 and annual tuition fee is between €5,000 and €7,500,” added Shekhawat, who suggests that while selecting a study abroad destination, it is imperative for students to take into account cost of living, scholarships, part-time, among the mandatory visa & tuition fees.
“Explore Germany, where a thriving academic landscape and remarkable affordability have led to a 107% increase in Indian student enrolment. Spain, with its faster visa process (30-60 days) and lower cost of living, is a welcoming option. For those seeking vibrant cultural experiences, Dubai stands out with its streamlined visa procedure (15-20 days) and dynamic educational infrastructure. Singapore is Asia’s academic powerhouse, has witnessed a tenfold increase in Indian students within a year. France has also dedicated to host 30,000 Indian students by 2030 New Zealand and Ireland are also emerging as attractive options and Malta is booming, with a 103% increase in student numbers in just one year”, says Mayank Maheshwari, COO & Co-Founder, University Living.