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Canada's international student population climbs – in part due to strong interest from India


Tania Kaushal is one of tens of thousands of international students from India now attending a college or university in British Columbia. 

"I'm from Punjab and Punjabis are crazy about Canada," she said.

Kaushal is an accounting student at Langara College in Vancouver and hopes to move to the city permanently.

"Most of my friends live in Canada and in Vancouver," she said.

For her and many others, it was the large Indian community in British Columbia that convinced her to study here.

"My whole family settled there so that's why I opted for Canada. They also told me Canada is best for post-graduate studies," said Anterpreet Kaur, another Langara College student.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a total of 23,950 study permits were authorized in the first two months of 2022 -- and more than half were issued to students from India.

In British Columbia, there are more than 143,000 international students according to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training. India ranks as the top source country, making up more than a third of the demographic.

Rudolf Kischer, of MKS Immigration Lawyers, noticed this growing trend and said it's a result – at least in part -- of what's going on in India.

"Things are changing in India. There's a growing middle class. People have the funds to send their children abroad which is extremely expensive," he explained.

He added that there's also been a massive shift in the Canadian immigration process over the last five years.

"We moved from the system where we chose immigrants from overseas to a system that almost exclusively chooses immigrants in economic categories: people who are already studying or working in Canada," he said.

In other words, studying in Canada is one way to land permanent residency, which many international students say they want.

Kischer also said Canada is an attractive country for international students from India because both countries speak English and the job market is less competitive in Canada, which many students agree with. 

"It has great opportunities over here as compared to India," said Isha Sharma, also a Langara College student.

"I didn't find any opportunities there. There were opportunities but there was more competition there. So I thought of moving here and getting a job here," said Gomzy Khurana, another international student from India.

India has long been a big contributor to Canadian immigration. According to the IRCC, 25 per cent of the total number of permanent residents in 2019 were from India.

In August, 2021 census data revealed that Mandarin and Punjabi are the most common non-official languages in Canada, with more than a million people predominantly speaking one of the two.

Statistics Canada also noted a large increase in the growth of the number of Canadians who predominantly speak South Asian languages such as Punjabi, Gujarati, Hindi or Malayalam since the last census in 2016, a rise which was fuelled by immigration. Top Stories

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