The total number of international students in all education levels in Canada is 807,750, including higher education.
TORONTO: As India-Canada relations strained in the wake of allegations by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against India, there is another major problem that is plaguing Indian students here – lack of job opportunities.
In 2022, a total of 226,450 Indian students arrived in Canada to pursue higher education, making India the top source country of new international students entering the North American nation last year, data suggests.
According to the global education search platform Erudera, the total number of international students in all education levels in Canada is 807,750, including higher education. Of this, 551,405 received a study permit in Canada last year.
Erudera data said that India has the most study permit holders in 2022 in Canada, with 226,450 students.
“I am not thinking about the India-Canada rift so much. I am more worried and concerned about my future. There is a huge dearth of jobs here, and I don’t know whether I will be able to secure work once I complete my studies,” Harwinder (name changed on request to protect his privacy), told PTI here.
Several Indian students around the Greater Toronto area echoed a similar sentiment.
Mayank (who did not wish to disclose his last name) is pursuing a course in health services at an institute in the Greater Toronto area.
He said while he and his friends have not experienced any difficulties in the aftermath of the diplomatic standoff between Delhi and Ottawa, what is giving him sleepless nights is the thought of not finding work once he finishes his studies in Toronto.
“I know of several Indian students with medical degrees here who have been unable to find decent-paying jobs and are driving cabs and working in stores, and restaurants to pay bills. It is a very challenging situation for us,” he said.
The high cost of living in and around Toronto and other Canadian cities is also hurting students here, who are compelled to live in cramped rooms to save on rent and other utilities.
“We had come with the hope that once we complete our education here, we will be able to secure well-paying jobs and help our parents and families back home in India. But there are no jobs; the cost of living, healthcare is back-breaking and we are struggling to make ends meet,” another Indian student from Haryana, who did not wish to be named, said.
India and Canada are embroiled in a diplomatic standoff following allegations by Trudeau in the Canadian Parliament last month.
He claimed that “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing” of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil on June 18 in British Columbia, a charge angrily rejected by New Delhi as “absurd” and “motivated”.
Earlier last week, India asked Canada to withdraw several dozen diplomats from its missions amid the escalating diplomatic row that erupted following Trudeau’s allegation.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi has said discussions on the modalities to arrive at mutual diplomatic presence are going on and gave a clear indication that India will not review its position on the issue.
According to ICEF Monitor, a market intelligence resource for the global education industry, there were 320,000 Indian students with active study permits at the end of December 2022, a growth of 47 per cent over the previous year.
“Indian students accounted for nearly four out of every ten foreign students in Canada as of the end of 2022,” ICEF Monitor said.
The Indian students described their difficulties as being no different from getting stuck between a rock and a hard place.
They spoke about the hardships their families and parents in India have endured to send them abroad for higher studies.
“Parents have had to sell properties, land, take massive loans to pay for the higher education of their children in Canada,” the students pointed out.
“Our parents have spent a lot to send us to Canada to study. We had hoped that after arriving here, we would not take a single penny from our parents and instead would be able to help our families back home financially. We had hoped to find good jobs that sustain us and also enable us to take care of our families in India. We are not able to do that,” Mayank said.
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