TORONTO : In a rude shock to tens of thousands of freshmen keen on flying out for an education to Canada, their visas are still to come. Universities that begin their academic year in early September have asked candidates to either be on campus by then or defer admissions.
These are students headed to top Canadian institutes such as McGill University, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia; they have paid a full year’s fee of Rs 40-50 lakh, partial charges for housing and even met other requirements to apply under the Student Direct Stream (SDS).
SDS is a fast-track route which promises visas in less than 2 weeks. But it comes at a price: Apart from paying the full year’s tuition, students must deposit an additional sum of Cad $10,000, take the IELTS and undergo medical examination. “Since the last few years this has been the most preferred route recommended by universities and the Canadian international visa section (IRCC).
This year has been a calamity. The Canadian government and universities are not giving any answers on why visas have not been processed. There is so much anguish among parents and students are anxious,” said international education counsellor Pratibha Jain.
Students have booked flight tickets, registered themselves for their firstand second-semester courses and requested universities to offer online courses. But most universities have turned down their request or have not responded at all. “Canadian universities should allow students to join online this Fall 2022, so that they can progress to on cam- pus classes whenever they reach campus.
This way their education will not be jeopardised. All Canadian universities offered this solution in 2020 and 2021. Hence, there is precedence and the technical infrastructure in place. Choices of subjects in January semester 2 are dependent on completing prerequisites in Fall Semester 1,” added Jain.
Parents TOI spoke to said they have formed universitywise groups and had written to their respective institutions as also to the Canadian Bureau for International Education requesting that visas be expedited and online classes be offered. “While universities are asking us to defer admissions, I feel this is not a solution as several courses are not offered in January and there will be a cascading delay on their graduation,” said a Mumbai-based parent.
International counsellors across India who work closely with one another peg the number of students awaiting visas to about 35,000-50,000 from across the country. “This huge delay is unprecedented.
A reasonable ask is to bring in some transparency, allay our fears, communicate the next steps and offer online classes till students reach the campus,” said a sibling of an aspirant planning to pursue her undergraduate education. “The distress that students are undergoing is also sending out a message to the future batches that have Canada on their radar for higher education. ”