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Covid not a dampener for students wanting to study abroad, shows data

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Records show that the Covid pandemic, the lockdown that followed, and the economy in doldrums failed to dampen the morale of Indian students, especially from Punjab, from realizing their dreams of studying abroad.

Representatives of various banks in Punjab told The Indian Express that inquiries from students seeking loans to pursue courses abroad have not stopped, even with the spread of the Covid pandemic in the country.

Figures obtained from the Departments of Home Affairs of Canada, UK, USA and Australia show that about 2.81 students obtained study permits from India in 2020 and in the first and second quarters of 2021, of whom 60 to 65% were students (approximately 1.68 students (lakhs to 1.82 lakhs) from Punjab.

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Every student who gets a study permit needs to fund his/her living fees for the first year, which costs around 13 to 20 thousand rupees, depending on their courses as well as the country of their choice.

The rest of the course fees are usually arranged by the students on their own, who mostly take up part-time jobs for themselves, thus helping local businesses and contributing to the growth of that particular country’s economy.

During 2019-20, Indian students contributed about $6.6 billion to the Australian economy, according to Leverage Education, a full-service platform for students pursuing international education and careers at more than 250 universities in various countries.
Home Affairs Canada figures revealed that about 2.92 thousand Indian students have obtained study permits in the country in the past three years, with 85,700 students obtaining these permits in 2020.

In 2021, Canada issued about 67,000 study permits from January to April, the Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) for Canada Sources.

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Can-Able Immigration Advisers in Ludhiana, which is headed by Immigration Advisers in Ludhiana, said, “Canada issued about 1.40 thousand study permits to students in 2019, and 85,700 in 2020. The numbers this year are expected to reach the 1.75 lakh mark from India. khilandip singh. Singh, who also runs the International Center for English Language Testing System, added that of the total number of students going to Canada, the percentage of students from Punjab ranges between 60-70%, which translates to a massive influx of money from the state Punjab. He said there was still a large backlog of applications, because Canadian authorities still needed clarification.

Singh also reported that the UK, which relaxed standards even when Covid was at its peak, saw 50,076 students move there from India in 2020 and 37,000 students in 2019. Of those, only about 70% were Punjab.

“Similarly, Australia saw 23,354 students, and the United States saw 14,971 students respectively who received permits in 2020. Most of them were Punjabis,” he said.
Gurpreet Singh, of i-Can Consulting, which deals with students going to study in Canada and other countries, said, “If we take the UK numbers from September 2020 to September 2021, the country has issued student visas to 90,669 students, which is a jump by 197% from the pre-pandemic year 2019.”

He added that the funds for the first year of study abroad are managed by students in different ways and through different sources.

“Students sometimes take loans (if they qualify) from the bank or put up their property – like farmland, house – as collateral. They also borrow from relatives or knock on the doors of private finance companies, Gurpreet said, adding that sometimes even farmers borrow money from Arhtiyas for this. The very purpose.

Sonali Sharma, Director of Punjab National Bank at New Dana Mandi (New Grain Market), Jalandhar, said they received almost 10-12 inquiries daily about ‘student loans’, after the easing of travel restrictions by many countries. She said the bank carefully flows through each request before accepting or rejecting it.

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“Student can borrow the entire course fee from the bank at an interest rate of 8.5 to 8.8%,” Sonali said, adding that these loans are only available to students who are pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree abroad. Diploma courses are not covered.

However, figures showed that about 85% of students who go abroad were in diploma courses, which is difficult to obtain loans for.
“These students manage their money privately,” she said, adding that first-year fees must be deposited in advance to study at almost all foreign universities.
A senior official of the bank, which handles study loans at State Bank of India, Nakodar District Branch, said his bank has also seen a rise in the number of inquiries regarding higher education loans, since the vaccination process started to increase.

On the other hand, a manager at HDFC Bank in Jalandhar said that they are very careful in screening applications and sometimes reject applications when they think the borrower may default.

A manager at a private fund in Adampur district stated that they provide loans against farmland, which the farmers then use to send their wards abroad. He reported that last year they made loans to approximately 60-70 farmers in their area in return for their land, which they used before them to send their children to study in Canada and the UK.

When I had to send my daughter to Canada last year, I tried to get a loan from every bank. However, I was told that there is no policy to fund diploma courses. “We then arranged the money from our own sources, and by borrowing from relatives,” said Satbir Singh of Kapurthala.

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