What after America? Canada becomes top choice for students

Until December 2016, Aniruddha Kanodia was readying to move to the United States of America after completing his Class 12 from Churchgate’s K C College. The Lower Parel resident wished to switch streams, from commerce to computer science. American universities offer him a better chance, says the 17-year-old. He even got through Wisconsin Madison, Illinois Urbana Champaign and Purdue University.

Now, however, Canada has moved to top choice and he will most likely pick from between the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. Donald Trump had something to do with it.

Ever since he was elected the 45th president of America, there has been a paradigm shift in how the country is viewed internationally. A report last week, released by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said that nearly 40 per cent of colleges are reporting an overall decline in applications from international students, according to a survey of 250 American colleges and universities.

Immigration proposals such as curbs on H-1B visas and the dependant H4 visa are emerging as strong reasons.

“Currently, the opportunities in Canada are better. Here, there are options for part-time jobs and a three-year work permit after graduation. Plus, over all, the education is also good,” says Kanodia. It’s not just possibilities of a future in a Western country. With recent hate crimes against Indians, the change in environment is also pushing Kanodia and his ilk towards other countries.

Dr Pratibha Jain, Managing Director of Eduabroad Consulting, a Nariman point based counseling and guidance for studies center, says that other countries are fast emerging as options too.

The H-1B problem
On March 19, a 14.01 minute clip aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes, had white collar workers, all American citizens, talk about how the visa system passed by the Congress in 1993, had robbed them of their jobs while giving the same opportunities to immigrants, at lower pay. It’s this sentiment that Trump addressed during his Presidential campaign and is now trying to address in his proposals.

In January, a US lawmaker introduced a bill in the US Congress to mandate companies who employ workers with H-1B visa to double the pay from $60,000 to $130,000 a year. Another proposal, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, requires that employers first offer a vacant position to an equally or better qualified American worker before seeking an H-1B holder.