International students from India worry about their future amid ongoing Canada-India Diplomatic tensions 

Deteriorating diplomatic relations between Canada and India have left some students in Kingston, Ontario, fearing for their future in Canada. India has been the largest source of international students for Canada in recent years, with their numbers steadily increasing.

For St. Lawrence College, International student tuition accounts for 67.6% of the colleges’ total tuition revenue, according to the colleges’ 2021 figures.

Parth, an international student and St. Lawrence College alumnus, reveals that from an immigrant’s perspective, the situation has filled him with daily anxiety about what news to expect next. He also voices concerns about potential actions the Canadian government might take against Indian immigrants in Canada.

“Every day, the first thing I check on my phone is the news related to this. I believe that every Indian student in Canada is grappling with the same fear, hoping things won’t change from how they were before. I constantly fear that my future in Canada is uncertain, and that my future permits or applications may be rejected,” shares Parth.

Parth also points out that many students take substantial loans from India to fulfill their dreams in Canada, and any actions taken against them would result in significant financial losses.

“Most students also work part-time to cover their living and tuition expenses, and I believe many live in fear of losing their jobs as well,” he adds.

For international students from India, this situation is a cause for concern due to repeated warnings from the Indian government. The Government of India has issued warnings about “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence” in Canada. While it does not discourage travel to Canada entirely, it advises caution and highlights the “deteriorating security environment.”

Vishal, a current college student, also expressed his concern for the situation as it puts attaining Permanent Residency at risk. However, Vishal remains optimistic that it will get better with time.

“It was a big allegation, and also I believe that [Prime Minister Trudeau] should have raised this concern earlier than three month after the incident,” Vishal said.

International students from India form a substantial portion of Canada’s postsecondary education system, specifically for postsecondary colleges. International students contribute about $2 billion per year to Ontario Colleges, outpacing provincial government funding.

Glenn Vollebregt, President and CEO of St. Lawrence College, acknowledges the strain in diplomatic relations between Canada and India and the resulting anxiety and pressure faced by members of the SLC community.

“As with all global events, we are all following news of the deterioration of diplomatic relations between Canada and India, and we understand that the tensions are causing anxiety and pressure for members of the SLC community,” said Glenn Vollebregt, SLC President and CEO. 

“We have reminded our students and employees of the resources and support available to those who may need help, regardless of their direct ties to the situation. We will continue to offer our support and uphold our values in all that we do.”

Queen’s University says it’s also working to support student affected by the ongoing diplomatic crisis.

Dr. Sandra den Otter, Vice-Provost, Global Engagement, reaffirmed Queen’s University’s commitment to fostering an inclusive community that values diversity among its students, faculty, and staff, including those with connections to India.

“I understand that this situation may cause uncertainty and stress to many in our community, especially members from or who have close connections with India. I want to emphasize that you are welcome here and that Queen’s is committed to supporting your wellbeing, safety, and success. A listing of resources available to faculty, students, and staff can be found below,” Dr. den Otter wrote.    

As of October 11th, the Canadian Government refrained from withdrawing 41 diplomats from India by the deadline. This comes after the Government of India requested that Canada reach “parity” with India’s diplomatic staff in Canada.