Indian students losing interest in American universities, Canada benefits: Report

ST Staff
Wednesday, 10 June 2020

According to the analysis, the key factor behind the decline in numbers is due to the "more restrictive immigration and international student policies under the (Donald) Trump administration and the difficulty of obtaining green cards in the United States," a statement in the report.

According to a report published by National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the number of Indian students enrolled in graduate-level engineering, and computer science courses in the US has steadily declined in the last few years. The gap between the year 2016-17 and 2018-19 shows a decline of more than 25 per cent. 

The topic for the report was based on public policy research and focused on trade and immigration. According to the analysis, the key factor behind the decline in numbers is due to the "more restrictive immigration and international student policies under the (Donald) Trump administration and the difficulty of obtaining green cards in the United States," a statement in the report. 

Considered to be a loss for America, the Indian student population forms an outsized proportion of the group. In the year 2016-17, American universities had 86,900 Indian students. The declined numbers of 2018-19 show that the year has 64,950 Indian students, still a large number. 

Despite being just 5.5 per cent of the Us college enrolments, in the year 201-19 alone, Indian students and their families account for approximately US $41 billion to the American economy. 

Moreover, the NFAP report said, "as a source of research assistants, graduate students help professors conduct research and retain top faculty." 

"Without the ability to perform high-level research, many leading professors would move on to others careers, which could weaken American universities as a global centre for science," added the report. 

Consequently, America's loss is a gain for its neighbours, as Indian students are now looking towards Canada for movement. 

According to the think tanks research, the number of Indian students moving to Canada has more than doubled in the last few years. In the year 2016-17, Indian students accounted for 76,075. But the year 2018-19 the number of Indian students grew up to 172,625. 

The important factor in the growth of students in Canada is the incentivising policies for the students. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in June 2018 declared the Students Direct Stream (SDS) under which students from India, China, Vietnam and Philippines could fast-track their applications, as long as they passed English-language tests and proved financial stability. These students were also allowed to enrol in 1400 designated learning institutes. 

Canada also hasn't let COVID-19 get in its way of keeping their gates open for Indian students. As of May 14, students with valid study permits from before March 28, 2020, are exempted from travel restrictions on passing health checks and following isolation guidelines. 

The effect of Donald Trump's anti-immigration discourse, techies have also been looking towards alternatives to Silicon Valley. Canada has also been offering express entry for skilled immigrants. 

Speaking to Quartz India, Peter Rekia, founder of immigration law firm Rekai LLP said, "Canada is benefitting from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from US designations, largely because of the challenges of obtaining and renewing H-1B visas and finding a reliable route to US permanent residence." 

Also, the country allows citizens to apply for permanent residence (PR) after six years. The research data found that Indian permanent residents in Canada jumped to 117 per cent between the year 2016-19. 

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