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Why Canada is losing its charm for Indian students, enrolment declining

Recent policy changes by the Canadian government are causing a significant decline in Indian student enrolment, shifting the previously favourable landscape for international students from India. Indians, who made up the largest national cohort with 37% of study visas issued in 2023, are now facing new challenges. Multiple factors have impacted the number of Indian students choosing Canada as their educational destination.

The decline in Indian student enrolment in Canada stems from recent policy changes, financial burdens, diplomatic tensions, stricter work permit criteria, and increased scrutiny. Canadian government policies, including capped study permits and stricter eligibility criteria, hinder Indian students’ access.

In 2023, nearly 319,000 Indian students moved to Canada. However, beginning in 2024, the Canadian government has capped the number of approved study permits at approximately 360,000, a 35% reduction from the previous year, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data.

This cap, aimed at stabilising the international student population, is distributed among provinces and territories based on population. As a result, it has become more difficult for Indian students to secure permits.

Additionally, it is estimated that students from Punjab alone spend over Rs 68,000 crore annually on education in Canada, highlighting the significant financial impact of these policy changes.


From October to December 2023, there was an 86% drop in study permits issued to Indian students, from 108,940 to 14,910.

This was done after India ejected Canadian diplomats who would process the permits and fewer Indian students applied due to a diplomatic dispute over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Indian students make up more than 41% of Canada’s international student population, contributing significantly to the nation’s economic growth.

It’s estimated that students from Punjab alone spend over Rs 68,000 crore annually on education in Canada. In 2022, out of 225,450 Indian students granted study permits, 1.36 lakh were from Punjab.

Currently, approximately 3.4 lakh students from Punjab study in Canada.

Despite their economic contributions, international students, including those from India, are implicated in Canada’s housing and job challenges.

Indian prospective students will now need to demonstrate that they have access to $20,635, a significant increase from the $10,000 requirement that has been in place for the past twenty years, in addition to covering travel and tuition costs.

Gurtej Sandhu, an immigration advisor based in Chandigarh, explained to India Today TV that aside from diplomatic tensions between India and Canada, there were several other factors contributing to the decrease in the number of international students from India.

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, announced policies that include a cap on study permit applications, stricter eligibility criteria for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Programme, and limited access to open work permits for spouses of international students.

Starting September 1, 2024, international students on programmes under curriculum licencing agreements will no longer be eligible for post-graduation work permits.


Canada has introduced a new rule for international students, including those from India, which limits off-campus work to a maximum of 24 hours per week starting in September 2024.

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that the temporary policy allowing students to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus will end on April 30, 2024.

These agreements often involve private colleges delivering the curriculum of public colleges, which has been popular among Indian students. This change removes a key incentive for these students, according to IRCC.

Additionally, new rules limit open work permits for spouses to those of students in master’s and doctoral programmes.

This change can discourage Indian students from pursuing undergraduate or college programs in Canada, as it affects their family’s ability to work and support themselves.

The update to the cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants increases the financial burden on students, potentially deterring those from India who already face significant financial challenges.

Furthermore, since December 1, 2023, designated learning institutions must confirm every letter of acceptance directly with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

This added layer of scrutiny, while preventing fraud, slows down the application process and adds stress for Indian students.

So, there are multiple factors that are contributing to the decline in Indian student enrolment in Canada, including recent policy changes, financial burdens, diplomatic tensions, stricter work permit criteria, and increased scrutiny.

Published By:

Girish Kumar Anshul

Published On:

Jun 10, 2024

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