In a significant move, the province of British Columbia, known for hosting the highest number of international students, has recently implemented a two-year temporary ban on approving new colleges for international student enrollment.
The temporary ban, put in place for two years, will address rising migration crises, skyrocketing housing prices, degrading education standards, and fraudulent practices in Canadian education system.
The United Kingdom has also revised study visa regulations to curb migration. The country has banned the entry of dependents with study visa holders. The research scholars in post-graduation and PhD courses are the only exceptions to the law.
Apart from requiring foreign students to navigate on foreign lands alone, UK government has also increased the financial security fund, which sets minimum amount of finances available during the time of study visa approval.
To add to the tensions of international students, French government had also introduced a new immigration policy, which required international students to submit a security fund at the time of study permit application. The law has now been defunct due to heavy criticism. Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research in France stated in a speech that “International students are opportunity for France”.
What are the Variations in International laws?
While British Columbia is currently the only province with such a temporary halt, the Canadian government is also planning to introduce stricter criteria for study visa approval. This includes higher educational qualifications, improved language proficiency scores during the study visa approval process and stronger financial background. The government has also doubled the financial requirement for students, who now have to show a fund of CAD 20,635.
Apart from this, the Canadian government will only approve a selected number of study visas from now on. Earlier, Canada has promised to welcome one and half million migrants by 2025. Later the numbers were expected to reduce to 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025, but as of today, the Justin Trudeau, has capped the migration at 360,000, which is less than 35% compared to last year.
UK has banned the entry of dependents with the study visa holders. Starting January 1st, 2024, no study visa holder would be able to bring their dependents in to England. Earlier, students could bring spouses, children or family with them. The new law only exempts the research scholars in masters and post graduate courses, who can bring one dependent on their study permit.
The proof of funds has also increased for visa applicants.
Australia aims to host only the best of the best. This is evident through the recent move of Australia where it has increased the minimum language proficiency score from 6.0 bands to 6.5 bands in IELTS for undergraduate students and requirement is increased from 5.5 bands to 6.0 bands for student visa holder.
The Reasons for Scrutiny for International Students:
Rising Cost of Living:
The prime reason behind the international student law variation is cost-of-living-crises, which are crippling developing and developed European nations alike. Post pandemic and Russian Ukraine war, international economy has been put on enormous strain.
As a result, most of the developed nations like Canada and UK are facing crises. The crises have put an extensive burden on the national economies, skyrocketing housing prices. In the past year alone, the housing prices in Canada have risen by 7.7%.
By 2030, it is anticipated that the housing crises in Canada will worsen over the years, leaving more than 35 lakh Canadians homeless by the end of this decade.
In UK, Russian Ukraine war spiked the inflation to 40-year-record high numbers, worsening cost-of-living-crises further.
Degrading quality of education and discrimination against international students:
In the past years, Canada has emerged as the popular choice for international students due to early PR system, friendly neighborhood and ample job opportunities.
However, in the recent years, the quality of education in popular study visa destinations has decreased. Students have complained about poor education standards and lack of proper education regulations at some of the study institutes. Additionally, the data reveals that more than 25% of foreign students face discrimination and sexual harassment in Canadian universities.
Additionally the scam of 700 students who entered Canada with fraudulent documents has also fumed the fire. In response, the government has added a new verification step to the study visa approval process. Now, institutes (DLI- dedicated learning institutes) must confirm that the student applying for the visa has genuinely received an admission letter from their own institute within ten days. In case they fail to acknowledge the student, the study permit of student stands cancelled.
Canadian statistics show that for 103 study visa applications, 40 were found to be fraudulent, which just shares a glimpse of the degrading quality of student visa applications.
Political debacle between India and Canada:
In September 2023, Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, accused India of killing Khalistan leader in Canada. India brushed off the claim but suspended Canadian visa services citing ‘Technical issues.’ Experts believe that these tensions might have also accelerated the scrutiny against international students, since India is the largest exporter of International students to Canada. Today more than 40% of foreign students in Canada are Indians.
In conclusion, the international students who are continuously blamed for rising housing prices and cost-of-living in these nations are actually the backbone of the higher education system of these nations.
International students contribute significantly to the economies of various countries. In Canada, they contribute over 22 billion dollars, the UK sees an addition of nearly 42 billion pounds and in Australia, international students contribute more than 25 billion dollars to the GDP.
Education is the third-largest export earner in Canada and UK and fourth largest export earner for Australia.
Blaming international students for inflation and the increasing cost of living in these nations, when they have actually made positive contributions to the economy, is unjust.