In a surprising turn of events, the Canadian government’s decision to double the Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) amount for international students has prompted a significant shift in preferences among aspiring students in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib. As of January 1, 2024, students preparing for the IELTS in these regions are increasingly turning their attention towards educational opportunities in Australia and New Zealand.
The GIC hike, from 10,000 Canadian dollars to $20,635 per applicant, has raised concerns among immigration agents who fear potential financial repercussions for the multi-million dollar industry if Canada continues to maintain stringent policies. This move has prompted students like Sanam Singh, a resident of Sanaur, to reconsider their plans of studying in Canada. Singh, opting for a program in New Zealand, cited not only financial considerations but also favorable working conditions and the presence of relatives as influencing factors.
Palak from Patiala echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the financial burden imposed by the increased GIC amount. She highlighted that the GIC, combined with other fees, has escalated the financial requirement from Rs 16 lakh to Rs 25 lakh for applicants. Notably, students heading to Australia are exempt from the GIC requirement, adding to the attractiveness of the Australian education landscape.
The potential impact on the immigration industry has sparked concern among consultants, with Avnish Jain, a Ludhiana-based consultant, predicting a potential decline in the number of students choosing Canada for their education.
Economist and former University of Northern British Columbia professor, Amarjit Bhullar, provided a broader perspective, dispelling notions that the GIC hike was a result of diplomatic tensions or the alleged involvement of Punjabi youngsters in illegal activities. Bhullar argued that this move might reshape the demographic of students migrating to Canada, with only skilled professionals possessing substantial income opting for the country.
Highlighting a study by the Conference Board of Canada titled ‘The Leaky Bucket: A Study of Immigrant Retention Trends in Canada,’ Bhullar pointed out that onward migration has been steadily rising since the 1980s, reaching a notable peak in 2017 and 2019. The post-Covid era is expected to see even higher numbers, considering the general economic decline in Canada.
As the repercussions of the GIC policy change unfold, the international education landscape is witnessing a significant transformation, with students now reevaluating their choices and destinations in pursuit of quality education and more favorable financial considerations.