Cap on international students’ visas by Canada in view of surging house rents has lent hope to private colleges in Punjab, who are predicting the next session to be a “bumper year” for these colleges.
Punjab has over 1,500 private colleges and for the last 10 years, these colleges were struggling to fill all their seats as “Canada colleges were gobbling up all students,” according to Punjab Unaided Colleges Association, a body of these colleges.
“What we could not do to attract our own students, who were making a beeline to Canada, their visa restrictions will do for us. For the last 10 years, we have been seeing students, irrespective of their financial status, taking admissions in various colleges in Canada, leaving us in lurch. But not anymore. These restrictions have come as a God-sent opportunity for us,” said Dr Anshu Kataria, president of Punjab Unaided Colleges Association.
According to Kataria the last decade was a dry period for Punjab colleges though last year there has been a slight increase with students from Jammu & Kashmir coming to Punjab.
“We used to wonder where the entire youth of the state had gone. Not only the technical courses, but nursing and pharmacy classes too did not see more than 30-35 per cent students… Those who could afford would go to a better college. Those who could not even afford prompted their parents to raise bank loans, and even withdraw their provident fund prematurely to ensure they immigrated to study in Canada,” said Kataria who added that people like him are elated with the new rules as such a situation was bound to happen.
“The way the students were making a beeline, the housing crisis was waiting to happen. This is surely going to affect the numbers of students wanting to go abroad. The narrative has been set. There are videos of the housing crisis,” he said.
The association feels that now the parents who could not afford the huge expenses in Canada would not be sending their child to study in that country.
He added that the association has been raising this issue and the latest report of All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) had only confirmed this. As per the data, the number of students in the state’s colleges had decreased from 9.59 lakh to 8.58 lakh.
Raja Singh Khela, retired faculty from Maharaja Ranjit Singh Technical University, Bathinda, who has been associated with imparting education in private colleges, said that the change in rules would certainly help the colleges in the state.
“The colleges are now shutting down in Canada because they do not have the accommodation facilities for international students which are mandatory. Now, video clips showing 50-60 students staying in a basement have gone viral. The crisis would provide a new lease of life to the colleges back home,” said Khela.
He went on to add that with the change in rules, the students would turn to Canada only for their post-graduation courses. “They will be completing their graduation in India only. Also, there are chances that many would not be able to afford post-graduation courses, as higher education is very expensive in Canada,” Khela remarked.
With the latest development in Canada, the private colleges are now looking at the All India Council for Technical Education to allow the technical colleges to admit more students than the permissible number. “This has been a long-pending demand. We are hoping the AICTE will do it. The rules say that the colleges cannot admit more than 50 students if they have 50 seats. With Canada’s rules, the colleges will certainly need to admit more. Otherwise, there would be unrest,” said a private college owner on condition of anonymity.