Canada tops lists as preferred destination for Indian students: report

The figures show that over 300,000 Indian students opted for Canada last year, a substantial surge from the 200,000 recorded in 2021, representing a notable increase of over 46 percent.

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Canada emerged as the top choice for Indian students seeking education abroad in 2022, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, according to the Indian Students Mobility Report 2023.

As indicated by the report from M.M Advisory Services, a Delhi-based firm specializing in overseas studies, Canada set a new record in 2022 for the number of Indian students it received.

The figures show that over 300,000 Indian students opted for Canada last year, a substantial surge from the 200,000 recorded in 2021, representing a notable increase of over 46 percent.

Despite being historically regarded as a prime destination for Indian students, the United States witnessed over 190,000 Indian student applications in 2022, as compared to 160,000 in 2021. Although this reflects an 18.9 percent increase, the report highlighted that the numbers did not surpass the levels recorded in 2019.

Canada’s allure to Indian international students

Canada’s success as a preferred destination for Indian students in 2022 is credited to a combination of factors, such as favorable immigration policies and students opting for the country as an alternative when other nations were less appealing.

Conversely, the report notes that backlogs in visa processing, influenced by the pandemic, and security-related concerns have had an impact on the United States.

In 2022, an intriguing trend highlighted by the report is the United Kingdom’s remarkable year-on-year growth in Indian student intake, registering a substantial 49.6 percent increase. In contrast, Australia experienced relatively minimal growth at 0.7 percent during the same period.

The report scrutinized the mobility trends of Indian students in major English-speaking countries. It revealed that the UK saw the most significant year-on-year growth at 49.6 percent, drawing in 126,535 Indian students. Canada followed closely with a growth rate of 46.8 percent, hosting 319,130 students. In comparison, the US and Australia enrolled 199,182 and 100,302 Indian students, respectively.

The report attributes Canada’s record-breaking growth in 2022 to a foundation of consistent long-term and medium-term expansion. Over the past five years, spanning from 2018, Canada has elevated its intake of Indian students by over 86 percent, nearly doubling its numbers during this period.

In the Indian context, the remarkable growth rates are primarily propelled by students seeking postgraduate diplomas, particularly in lower-skilled professions, who are gravitating towards private colleges in Canada.

According to the report, about 70 to 80 percent of the intake is for diploma programs, a trend that benefits colleges more than universities. Moreover, the report emphasizes that Canada’s increasing allure, especially when compared to other destinations, positions it as a preferred alternative for Indian students during periods when competitor countries become less appealing.

“The recent unfolding diplomatic tensions between India and Canada risk disrupting our projections from India. It’s still a developing situation, but our current analysis suggests that student interest will likely remain largely unaffected,” said Director of M.M Advisory Services, Maria Mathai.

US intake still below pre-pandemic levels

Despite an 18.9 percent increase in the number of Indian students in the US compared to 2021, the figures did not surpass the levels recorded in 2019.

The report stated, “Backlogs in visa processing due to the pandemic and security-related concerns on university campuses have created significant challenges in the last couple of years.”

However, it noted that the deviation from 2019 volumes in 2021 was only -1.4 percent, and the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the five years is a mere 0.4 percent, indicating that the previous equilibrium levels have now been reached.

UK surpassing Australia

In 2022, the UK surpassed Australia in Indian student intake, signaling a notable shift in preference among Indian students towards the UK. The report highlights a significant difference in growth patterns over the five-year period from 2018 to 2022, with the UK exhibiting a robust 44.3 percent CAGR, while Australia demonstrated more modest growth with a 3.0 percent CAGR.

“Policy changes, such as the introduction of a two-year post-study work permit, and a faster opening up after the pandemic are key factors that contributed to this surge,” said the report.

In contrast, Australia experienced only a minimal 0.7 percent increase in Indian students in 2022 compared to 2021. The report suggested that this modest growth might be attributed to Australia’s borders not fully reopening to international students that year.

Canada and India’s strained relationship

As India-Canada relations strain due to allegations by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against the South Asian country, Indian students in Canada face another significant issue — a lack of job opportunities.

The high cost of living in and around Toronto and other Canadian cities is also proving to be a burden for students forced to reside in cramped accommodations to save on rent and other utilities.

Canada could face a substantial economic impact amounting to $700 million due to its strained relations with India, according to a study by the New Delhi-based Imagindia Institute. The study suggests that even a modest five percent decline in the number of Indian students pursuing higher studies in Canada in 2024 would contribute to this financial setback for the Canadian economy.

Larger student intake for the United Kingdom

Experts from the University of Roehampton London, a leading UK university, have suggested that the recent escalation of political tensions between India and Canada may potentially result in the United Kingdom welcoming a greater number of international students from India.

During the launch event of the MBA in Healthcare Management course book in Hyderabad, international education experts expressed their views on the unfolding geopolitical situation between the two countries, considering it “unfortunate.” They stated that while the political differences between India and Canada might be a transient phase, these events could drive a larger influx of students toward the UK.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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