Education

Indian students drive postgraduate growth in North America

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Statistics Canada released analysis showing the growth of college postgraduate programs since 2014, largely driven by international students. These programs normally require a postsecondary credential and generally focus on career-specific skills. 

By 2019, 67% of graduates from Canadian college postgraduate credential programs were international students, up from 30% in 2014. Over half of all graduates with these credentials were from India, up from 15% in 2014. 

The study calls this a “unique phenomenon” as, in comparison, Indian students made up 12% of non-postgraduate college certificates and diplomas in Canada. 

Statistics Canada also analysed the long-term prospects of those who completed college postgraduate courses, and found that Indian graduates with these credentials earned less than international students from other countries who completed a bachelor’s degree.

“Indian students with lower post-graduation earnings could be more likely to remain in Canada, compared to lower-earning students from other countries”

“One possibility is that Indian students with lower post-graduation earnings could be more likely to remain in Canada, compared to lower-earning students from other countries,” noted Katherine Wall, author of the report and analyst at Statistics Canada.

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Some 80% of all international students who completed a college postgraduate credential in 2015 gained permanent residency within five years of graduation – a higher rate than for international graduates of bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Rates of transition to permanent residency within five years of graduation were higher for Indian international students than those from other countries.

“Canada is relatively affordable for international students, and college post-graduate credentials are less costly, often shorter and more easily accessible than a university master’s degree,” said Denise Amyot, president and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada. “The pathway to permanent residency for international students is also a strong attraction, and these programs can offer points that help in the Express Entry process.”

Canadian colleges and institutes “have a long history of engagement in India”, she continued.

“They’ve developed lasting connections, have established their brands, and offer precisely what the market, in large part, demands – a welcoming and safe environment, quality education, a good return on investment, and strong post-graduation employment opportunities.”

The report notes that it is “common for some Canadian college courses with small class sizes to only have students from India”.

Amyot said that sustainable growth and “seeking new opportunities in emerging markets” are key priorities for CICan and its members.

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Meanwhile a report from the Council of Graduate Schools in the US found that the number of applications for master’s and certificate programs for autumn 2021 exceeded that of the prior record high in autumn 2018, with applications from Indian students leading the way. 

Applications by Indian students increased by 36% in 2021, surpassing those from Chinese nationals for the first time in five years. The first-time enrolment of Indian nationals also increased by 430%. 

“The rate of increase for Indian students is partly related to large numbers of deferments by Indian students in fall 2020”

“Generally, China and India send the largest numbers of international students to the US, and our Fall 2021 report shows that they are continuing to do so,” said Enyu Zhou, author of the report and a senior analyst at CGS. 

“Though, really what we are seeing is that the rate of increase for Indian students is partly related to large numbers of deferments by Indian students in fall 2020, and lower deferments in fall 2021. This resulted in Indian students from two application years matriculating at the same time.”

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In comparison, graduate applications from China decreased by 16% between 2020 and 2021, according to the report which analysed data from 361 institutions. 

The report named sub-saharan Africa as “a region to watch”, with first-time graduate enrolment across the area increasing by 103%. Master’s and certificate courses are growing more quickly than doctorates, with the large majority of Indian students applying to the former.  


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