Indian students come for permanent residency, not an education

Canada’s Globe & Mail has published a detailed report on how hundreds of thousands of Indian students have inundated Canada in search of permanent residency:

Grey Matters, which sees 7,000 to 8,000 students each month at its 56 locations in India, is one of many such centres in Chandigarh’s sprawling Sector-17 market, a hub of retail stores and education institutes that has become known as a one-stop shop for young Indians itching to begin their adult lives abroad.

Businesses like this all over the country send tens of thousands of Indian students like Manjinder to Canada each year – 105,192 were enrolled in Canadian universities and colleges in the 2018-2019 school year, the most recent period for which data are available. They promise a new life, jobs, houses and prosperity and – ever since the federal government introduced a series of programs in 2009 that opened the gates more widely to Indian students – a chance at the ultimate prize: Canadian citizenship…

Bringing Indian students to Canada has become a lucrative business spanning two continents. In India, there are language schools, recruiters, immigration consultants and lenders, all of whom have profited handsomely from the study-abroad craze. Once students arrive in Canada, postsecondary institutions, landlords, immigration consultants and employers profit from their growing presence…

“Everyone has a little piece of this setup. And by having a piece, everyone is blind to the whole picture,” says Gurpreet Malhotra, the executive director of Indus Community Services, a non-profit in Peel Region…

The vast majority of Indian students… are registered at colleges (73 per cent). Students and recruitment businesses interviewed by The Globe say this is because most Indian students want to come to Canada to live rather than learn, and registering in a college program offers a cheaper and faster path to settling here (after landing in Canada on a student visa, they can get a postgraduate work permit and start logging the employment hours necessary to apply for permanent residency and, down the road, Canadian citizenship)…

At Broadway Consultants, a study-abroad consultancy in Patiala, 80 per cent of students choose to go to Brampton because there are so many private colleges in the city, which are seen as more affordable and easier to gain admission to with a lower language proficiency score. “It’s not the degree they are after, but a route to a better life and money,” says Broadway’s executive director, Baljinder Singh…

In an industry the size of India’s, with so many players, addressing exploitation in the recruitment process is difficult. There are roughly 5,000 to 6,000 IELTS centres in Punjab alone offering coaching for students who will take the standardized English test, according to The Tribune, an English newspaper based in Chandigarh. In 2018, Niagara College retested hundreds of international students who were suspected of providing fraudulent IELTS scores on their language admission tests, since so many were struggling in class due to poor English skills…

Mr. Sarwara finally got admission to CDI College to study web design… In his first few days in class, he was stunned to see that nearly every other student was also Indian. Most were teenagers and seemed woefully unprepared for the basics of the course. “You know what they used to say to me? ‘Brother, save my file. I don’t know how to save a file,’” he said…

Gurpreet Malhotra, the executive director of Indus Community Services, says he’s come to see private colleges in Canada as being in the business of immigration, not education.

“The colleges are getting easy money, and the students are getting an easy way to get to Canada”…

Mr. Malhotra, of Indus Community Services, says if the federal government is bringing so many students here as part of a larger economic and immigration strategy…

“The reason Canada set this up is so that we can grab an immigrant young. They’re going to have children, set up a house, all that kind of stuff and become part of the Canadian society,” he says.

It is exactly the same situation here in Australia.

A recent study by IDP Connect revealed how the primary motivation for Indian students to study in Australia is to gain permanent residency and work rights:

IDP Connect’s New Horizons research shows international students consider migration incentives and employment opportunities when choosing where, what and how to study. “We’ve seen a significant decrease in interest from Indian students looking to study in Australia,” said Wharton, who said a key motivation for Indian students’ decision to study abroad include migration and face-to-face learning opportunities…

Wharton said if Australia can communicate a roadmap towards a large-scale return of international students, with clear pathways towards employment and migration outcomes, Australia could be in a good position to retain its status as a leading study abroad destination…

“We asked them if Australia brought in migration incentives to study their chosen fields of study, would that bring Australia into their consideration set? And 64% said they would.” He believes this could allow Australia to take some ground back and get students who hadn’t otherwise been considering Australia as their study abroad destination.

Their New Horizons research also shows that strong drivers for international students include migration incentives and post-study work rights. “If you can offer those two things to two students, that could have a very positive impact,” he said.

Last year, the former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Professor Steven Schwartz, also admitted that many international students only study in Australia to gain working rights and permanent residency:

[Professor Schwartz] said foreign students flock to courses likely to lead to jobs and permanent residency…

“Permanent residency is one of the main motivations to study in Australia’…

“If suddenly permanent residency was given to people who study poetry, it’s likely they’d all be doing poetry.”

New Delhi-based education consultant Gauravdeep Bumra noted the same:

“Most Indian students choose to study abroad, often at the cost of thousands of dollars, because they have a long-term goal of getting permanent residency, be it in Australia, Canada or the UK. As a result, most students stuck offshore have deferred their studies instead of choosing to complete their degrees online”…

“The day they open their borders, the student intake numbers will uptick…”

As has The Australian’s international education shill, Tim Dodd:

“Too many of the expanding numbers of students from India and the sub continent were in low quality, generic business courses, and hoping for permanent residency without having in-demand skills”.

Over recent months we have witnessed the edu-migration industry lobby the federal government to give permanent residency to students in order to increase Australia’s attractiveness as a study destination. That shows how much of an immigration industry education really is.

But any move to ramp-up international student numbers and immigration will also require Australia to reach further down the quality barrel and erode entry standards even further. Doing so would be disastrous for the long-run productivity and prosperity of Australia, which hinges upon quality education

Instead of lowering the quality bar to boost numbers, Australia’s international education system should target a smaller intake of higher quality students via:

  1. Raising entry standards (particularly English-language proficiency);
  2. Raising financial requirements needed to enter Australia; and
  3. Removing the link between studying, work rights and permanent residency.

These reforms would lift student quality, would raise genuine export revenues per student, would remove competition in the jobs market, and would lower enrolment numbers to sensible and sustainable levels that are more in line with international norms.

They would also help to improve teaching standards and the experience for domestic students, which should be our tertiary education sector’s number one priority.

In short, international education needs to become a genuine export industry rather than a people importing immigration industry. We must restore Australia’s higher education sector back to being about ‘higher learning’ rather than ‘higher earning’.

Sadly, we all know these reforms won’t happen. Our policy makers will instead crater entry and teaching standards to entice as many warm bodies to Australia as they can get. Because the ‘growth lobby’ and edu-migration industry rent-seekers pull the policy strings.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Display NameMEMBER

    After interviewing 7-8 Indian recent IT graduates in the last week I wondered why they were uniformly so average. So then I went chasing down where get did their degrees. Not one had done a degree in a top 200 institution. I have about twenty resumes of graduates from Indian universities, including the ones I did not shortlist for an interview. Again not one from the top 200 list of universities.

    • I’ve seen footage of Indian “software engineering” students sitting in a room chanting stuff like little kids reciting their multiplication tables. “Dereferencing a null pointer will result in a non-maskable interrupt vectored through address 0x00000100! Dereferencing a null pointer will…” etc….

      It went some way towards explaining my experience that many Indian “engineers” aren’t earth-shatteringly good.

      • Display NameMEMBER

        Sadly grads from our local institutions are not faring much better. I suspect part of that is that many of the better grads goto finance in Australia, and that most of the better grads have already got a place for next year.

  2. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    Colour me surprised. Anyone with a functioning brain who isn’t being paid to turn a blind eye knows this is the case but I guess a positive to see it mentioned in public for a change. And yes chalk me up as another person who has had to sift through ridiculous numbers of Indian resumes for jobs they clearly couldn’t do despite apparently being amazingly qualified.

    • Jumping jack flash

      The thesis presentations of the Indian students looked so professional though at the presentation conference a few years ago.

      They were written so well and had so much great information – charts, graphics, animations, etc, that the students clearly were spoiled for choice as to what to say and how to say it. Those powerpoints and im sure their entire theses certainly were overwhelmingly well crafted.

      Certainly if they couldn’t make it in engineering they could go into technical writing or digital design, perhaps?

  3. Quite right.

    We do have to ask though: Why should any foreign student come to Australia for their education, if not for the work/residency rights?

  4. Frank DrebinMEMBER

    MB has long had a blind spot on this – it’s not the Aussie unis by and large who facilitate this particular cohort, it’s the CBD-based private RTO’s/colleges/schools.

    Guess the background of those who own the latter ?.

    • Absolutely. Those business colleges with the cheap diplomas are the ticket. Students don’t even need to attend. They can work the whole time.

    • Yes. I know someone from overseas here on an education visa doing a ‘management’ course at one of these institutions. For all of their work that needs to be handed in they get example papers given to them which they just copy and hand in as their own work.

  5. Pankit ShahMEMBER

    I was an international student from India. Studied in Local University done dual degree in Environment and Public Health. Apparently do have a good resume and a working career in my field of study.

    Let me share my experience. The quality of education in local universities is not that good.

    Exams are often open-book, lots of group activity so non-English speaking students can accommodated by other students, no attendance requirements, international student get grace mark and generally don’t fail the subject,. It is multi billion dollar industry. Nothing about education and everything about achieving higher profit, higher wages and 21% superannuation of university lecturers.

    Vocational Education Department allows lots of small collages to run Cert IV and diplomas in various courses. Some hospitality collaged don’t even have commercial kitchens however they have been granted licenses to run VET courses.

    Australian System is allowing these rotten colleges and universities to run this type of activity therefore Indians or student from other countries see it as an opportunity.

    Just like those 50,000 economic refugees arrived under the watch of Julia’s government and now we turn the boats they don’t see the opportunity and they go somewhere else.

    We need to fix our system first for current and future generations.

    • Thanks for sharing. When you say local uni, do you mean in Aus or India as you mentioned international students get a grace mark and generally don’t fail.

    • Frank DrebinMEMBER

      Nice insight – good to hear from someone who has been through it.

      It will shock people that there are amazingly intelligent Indian students, the bulk of them just go to the US and UK as a first choice. We do get some great ones in Australia, just not enough.

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Vocational Education Department allows lots of small collages to run Cert IV and diplomas in various courses. Some hospitality collaged don’t even have commercial kitchens however they have been granted licenses to run VET courses.

      Yes, and here in Adelaide there was [I hope it’s now shut] an infamous ‘campus’ teaching students how to undertake motor shop repairs… in an inner CBD classroom on a relatively high floor of some non-descript office tower [with no off-site location]. No ability to teach anything practical related to a car at all, but handing out certifications and no doubt citizenship to follow nonetheless. A disgrace for all involved.

  6. Its not surprising they come to stay, wouldn’t we all? The problem is the system that dictates who gets to milk them on the way in and by how much. Points for education should be entirely delinked from immigration. It is grimey, it says you want to come here for a better life? Well here pay my mate X, then jump this hoop, pay person Y. They should come and just pay the equivalent sum directly into consolidated revenue of the state to which they come if you want to do this. Once again a centrally planned scheme devolves into corruption and the game of mates. Stop the rot!

  7. When you have a stigma for a war coming up with China, it surprises me that anyone migrates to Australia at all.

    Havent people heard of conscription?

    TAFE was awesome. Uni was just a self-run business. I love learning new things but you wouldnt get me going back to University anytime soon. Its too expensive and the Quality is now horrible.