Note From the Editor
This week’s edition carries plenty of new developments in the Canadian international education space, from tuition fees for out-of-province students at Quebec’s English universities doubling in 2024 to the IRCC promising India visa processing getting back to normal by early next year.
In the US, proposed H-1B modernization rules offer international students on F-1 visas a vital advantage, while the UK sees a 54% increase in Indians applying for study visas compared to 2022. A levy on international student fees looms large for Australian universities, and university students in Germany face a tough winter amid a housing challenge.
Head over to MSMReporter.com for more international education news, insights, and thought leadership this week, or have a look at our special coverage of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict as it relates to international education.
International students in Quebec, Canada, might have to gear up for significant changes in 2024. Tuition fees for out-of-province students at English universities will double to around CAD 17,000 (USD 38,724.44) per year, impacting new undergraduates and graduate students. This increase, feared to deter enrollment, aims to support the French language. Additionally, Quebec will fast-track immigration for francophone students through the Programme de l’expérience Québécoise (PEQ) program, allowing immediate permanent residency applications post-study. These changes may disproportionately affect international students, who may already be facing high tuition costs, and limit immigration opportunities for those lacking French skills.
Proposed H-1B modernization rules offer international students on F-1 visas a vital advantage. The rules extend the cap-gap protection period, bridging the gap between F-1 and H-1B status by an extra six months, ensuring continued status and work authorization. Students in STEM fields can gain up to two additional years. Under current rules, if an H-1B application isn’t processed by October 1, 2023, students must stop working. These changes, now under federal review, aim to help international students, especially in STEM fields, make a smoother transition to H-1B status. There are 1.99 lakh or 199,000 Indian students in the United States and 68,188 in optional practical training (OPT) programs today.
The UK Home Office reports a remarkable 54 percent increase in sponsored study visas for Indian students compared to 2022, reflecting a growing preference for higher education in the United Kingdom. Indian students now hold nearly seven times the number of study visas granted in 2019, with 142,848 visas awarded in total. The Graduate Route, allowing post-study stay, saw 42 percent going to Indian students. This trend is expected to continue as factors such as lower expenses and valuable scholarships, like £10,000 ($12,123.22) at the University of Essex, make the UK attractive. The government’s visa streamlining efforts and one-year postgraduate degrees enhance employability as well.
Ireland has emerged as a top choice for international students seeking quality education and promising career opportunities. With affordable tuition, English as the primary medium of instruction, and a strong job market, it’s a destination high up on prospective international students’ list. Irish universities consistently rank in the top five percent globally, ensuring high-quality education; government support keeps tuition fees low, which then make the country an economical choice. Additionally, renowned companies like Google and Microsoft offer employment prospects. Ireland’s generous post-study work visa program further enhances career possibilities, coupled with its reputation for safety and friendliness for student communities.
Australia’s higher education landscape may undergo a significant transformation as the Australian Universities Accord review team explores the possibility of imposing a levy on international student fees. This proposal envisions universities contributing a portion of their earnings from international students to a government-managed fund, effectively creating an export tax to bolster research and infrastructure funding. Despite the proposal’s radical nature, limited public debate surrounds it, with an impending report set to scrutinize its implementation and consequences. Key considerations include income disparities among universities, concerns about fairness in taxing international students, transparency in fund usage, and the potential for reshaping the international education market in Australia.
New Zealand now offers seamless access to its breathtaking landscapes and educational opportunities through the NZeTA program. Launched in July 2019, this electronic travel authorization simplifies entry for tourists, business travelers, and transit passengers from 190 visa-exempt countries. Valid for two years, it enables multiple short-term visits. To apply, you need a valid passport, proof of financial capacity, and a travel itinerary. This streamlined process aims to welcome more global visitors to explore New Zealand whether for adventure or education, making traveling to the country more accessible and convenient.
University students in Germany are potentially facing a dire housing crisis. As the winter semester begins, tens of thousands of domestic and international students struggle to secure affordable accommodation. The Student Association in Göttingen has rented a hotel, while a Munich camping site offers reduced rates for homeless students. A study revealed a shortage of over 700,000 apartments in Germany, with soaring rents in university towns. International students face additional challenges due to financial guarantees. Investment in student housing lags behind the growing student population, and while the government is planning to roll out subsidies, immediate relief remains elusive for many students this winter.
House Republicans, led by Representatives Jim Banks and Jeff Duncan, are demanding the deportation of foreign students who supported Hamas in recent rallies. They expressed concern about these demonstrations, emphasizing that Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization. The letter, signed by over a dozen House Republicans, singled out statements from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters supporting Hamas. They call for an investigation by the State Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to determine if visa holders allegedly endorsing Hamas activities have become ineligible. Senator Tom Cotton also sent a similar letter to deport foreign nationals supporting Hamas amid a surge in US anti-Semitism.
The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to restore regular Indian visa processing by early 2024. To achieve this, 22 immigration staff relocated from India will rejoin their duties in Canada and the Philippines. Despite current disruptions linked to the Canada-India dispute, Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller reaffirmed the country’s commitment to welcoming Indian newcomers. IRCC anticipates a potential backlog of 17,500 decisions in Canada’s immigration system over two months due to reduced staff in India. While in-person consulate services are temporarily suspended, IRCC said it will continue accepting applications with adjusted workload distribution in Visa Application Centers (VACs) to maintain efficiency.
Amid strained India-Canada relations, Canada suspends in-person visa services in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Chandigarh, causing concern for Indian students. Nandini Shah, a prospective student, has switched her study plans due to political tensions. However, Rohan Aggarwal remains determined to join York University. Experts advise students to stay updated and calm, and universities reassure that visa services are ongoing. Amid uncertainty, students have started to explore alternative destinations like the US, UK, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia, with some opting for bridge courses to keep their educational journey on track.
Australian retirees Anita Patel, Annette Sharma, and Jane Dixon – part of Virtual School Australia (VSA) – are in a race against time to save five Afghan women from deportation back to violence and persecution in Afghanistan. Facing an October 30 deadline, these women risk arrest if they don’t leave Pakistan. The teachers are helping them secure humanitarian visas, despite hurdles like language barriers and technological literacy issues. With United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee status, Australia is their potential safe haven. They’ve sought help from politicians, but resolution remains uncertain. As the deadline looms, the teachers strive to ensure these women’s safety and escape from a grim fate.
Canada has unveiled the CAN Work Philippines program, led by Minister Marc Miller, to streamline work permit processing for Filipino workers. This initiative aids Canadian employers in critical sectors such as healthcare, construction, and agri-food, where skilled labor demand is high. Eligible employers can benefit from expedited work permit procedures and group appointment scheduling for medical examinations and biometrics. To participate, employers must adhere to ethical recruitment guidelines outlined by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Canada is also providing a CA$200,000 (US$145,299.31) grant to the IOM to support ethical recruitment practices and promote fair standards within the Philippines, ensuring the well-being of temporary foreign workers.
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MSM Reporter is collated by a globally spread team of MSM and is published every Thursday.