This week on ApplyInsights, I’ll be sharing observations on the South Asian country of India. India is the seventh-largest country by land and the second-most populous country in the world. India has also been the largest source of international students studying in Canada for the last five years.
ApplyInsights covers various trends with student visas and study permits. To be as clear as possible, I am going to quickly highlight the difference between each.
Student Visas vs. Study Permits
A student visa is a conditional authorization to enter a country, which means that even if a student has a student visa, the officer at the border has the authority to deny them entry into the country.
A study permit gives students the authority to stay in the country. It includes details about their purpose: why they are here, what course level they are studying, their duration of stay, and if there are any work restrictions.
In 2019, Canada received 174,689 applications from Indian students, a growth of 35.32% over 2018. Of those 174,689 applications, 111,244 new student visas were approved, representing a 63.7% approval rate. Indian students have a 2.04% less chance of getting a visa compared to the year before. Canada’s student visa approval for all countries has declined from 66.5% in 2018 to 60.1% in 2019.
Canada issued 28,748 more student visas in 2019, compared to 2018. Indian students obtained more than 90% of these student visas.
I’ve included the image below to show the total number of applications and visa approvals for Indian students over the last four years.
Student Visa Approval Rates by Educational Institutions
In the images below, we explore the difference between the number of student visas approved in 2019 and 2018.
In 2019, 111,241 Indian student visas were approved. College programs had 73,237 approved visas representing the highest number of approved visas at a 61.1% approval rate. Universities came in a distant second, with 23,838 approved visas and a 68.5% approval rate. Finally, primary and secondary schools had 4,496 approved visas, with an approval rate of 80.1%.
Let’s break down each study level, and the student visa approval rates for key programs at each of them.
In 2019 the student visa approval rate for doctorate programs was 80.7%, which means that of all the Indian student applicants to doctorate programs, 80.7% were successfully approved for a student visa. In 2018 the student visa approval rate for Doctorate programs was 91.5%.
Masters programs had a 79.7% visa approval rate in 2019, a slight decrease over the 2018 rate of 86.7%.
Other studies had a 68.3% visa approval rate in 2019. In 2018, other studies had a 72.6% approval rate among Indian students to study a 2-year diploma, associate degree, or 1-year certificate.
University bachelor programs had a 62.6% visa approval rate for Indian students, an increase over the 2018 approval rate of 57.4%.
ESL/FSL saw the most significant decrease in 2019 with a 5.7% visa approval rate, compared to 19.8% in 2018.
In the image below, we look at the total number of approved Indian student visas in 2019 for each university study level, compared to 2018.
In 2019 the Indian student visa approval rate for college certificate programs was 70.1%, only a slight decrease from 2018, which had a student visa approval rate for college certificate programs of 75.9%.
College applied degree programs had a 60.4% visa approval rate in 2019, a slight decrease over the 60.8% rate in 2018. College diploma programs had a 59.1% visa approval rate in 2019. In 2018 other studies had a 62.2% approval rate among Indian students.
ESL/FSL college programs had a 3.1% visa approval rate for Indian students, a decrease over the 6.4% approval rate in 2018.
In the image below, we look at the total number of Indian student visa approvals in 2019 for each college study level, compared to 2018.
When we reflect on the 2019 numbers, we can see the majority of Indian students studying in Canada are working towards a college diploma vs. university degree. Out of 111,244 Indian students who received their visas in 2019, 73,237 of them applied for a college certificate, diploma, or degree program, making them a prime international market for colleges.
Primary and Secondary Schools
Primary and secondary schools still prove to be a growing industry for Indian students. In 2019 primary schools had 3,516 approved student visas, a substantial increase over the 2,057 in 2018. Secondary schools saw double the amount in 2019, with 910 approved student visas.
Primary school programs had an 85.3% visa approval rate in 2019, a 23.3% increase over 2018. Secondary school programs had a 66.7% visa approval rate in 2019, and a 35.9% in 2018.
Indian Student Market Growth
In 2019, 111,244 Indian students received their Canadian student visa, which means that Indian students accounted for 43.3% of all international students in Canada. When we look at the percentage of Indian students in Canada in 2018—37.2%—you can see that India is the top source of students for Canadian schools.
When we look at the 73,237 Indian students who received their visas in 2019, most were coming to study at colleges. Indian students accounted for just shy of 70% of the market share—around 107,041 students—for Canadian colleges. However, Indian students only represent 30% of the market share for universities.
Based on those insights and more, I see enormous opportunities for universities to grow their international numbers by offering more attractive programs—with the right length, fees, and content—that Indian students are actively seeking.
Thanks to ApplyBoard’s access to big data and AI technology, we’ve been able to work closely with Canadian universities—such as Algoma University and Yorkville University—to create and design programs that attract more international students, especially from India.
New Study Permits Issued by Educational Institutions
In 2019, there were 139,740 Indian study permits issued. College programs had the highest market share with 70.4%, representing 98,385 study permits. University programs came in a distant second at 19.4%, representing 27,155 study permits. Other studies came in third at 7.2%, with 10,015 study permits. Finally, primary and secondary schools had a 3.2% market share, with a total of 4,475 study permits issued.
In the images below we will explore the difference between study permit holders in 2019 and 2018.
When we look at new study permits issued for universities, bachelor’s and master’s programs took the top spot for 2019, with doctorate programs and ESL/FSL making up less than 800 permits. In the image below, we look at the total number of new study permits issued in 2019 for each university level, compared to 2018.
In 2019, college diploma programs continued to climb with 71,250 study permits issued, compared to 54,130 in 2018. ESL/FSL college programs continued to decrease with less than 50 total study permits issued in 2019, compared to over 110 in 2018.
Primary and Secondary Schools
Primary and secondary schools still prove to be a growing industry for Indian students. In 2019, primary schools had 3,280 study permits issued, a sizable increase over the 1,770 issued in 2018. Secondary schools saw double the amount of study permits in 2019, with 1,195 issued.
Other studies kept increasing in 2019, with 10,015 study permits issued.
New Study Permits Issued By Province
The image below shows the number of new study permits issued per province in 2019, and the percentage of growth that each province saw compared to 2018.
Ontario accounted for 61.4% of new study permits issued in 2019, followed by British Colombia at 18.0% and Quebec at 9.1%, with the remaining provinces sharing 11.5% of the market.
Why is the number of new study permits issued higher than student visas issued? There are several reasons. For example, if a student changes schools, they require a new study permit. If a student who is currently in the country wants to extend their study permit, this also counts as a new student permit issued.
The Future of Indian Students
Canada continues to be the most popular study abroad destination for Indian students.
The number of Indian students grew 40% in 2018, for a total growth of 350% since 2014, according to an article published by ICEF.
With more than 174,000 Indian students applying to Canada last year—a benchmark that means India now surpasses China as the leading international market for Canada—the only question we have to ask ourselves is, how sustainable is this? Will Canada continue seeing the same growth in the next 3 to 5 years?
Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Meti is driven by the belief that education is a right, not a privilege. He leads the International Recruitment, Partner Relations, and Marketing teams at ApplyBoard, working to make education accessible to people around the world. Meti has been instrumental in building partnerships with 1,200+ educational institutions across North America and the United Kingdom. Working with over 3,500 international recruitment partners, ApplyBoard has assisted over 80,000 students in their study abroad journey. Follow Meti on LinkedIn for more access to ApplyInsights and key industry trends.