Indian Students in Canada Seek Reassurance Amid Diplomatic Crisis

Canadian universities are affirming the safety of Indian students and providing resources to address the uncertainty caused by the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the two countries. With the aim of mitigating the impact on the thriving international education sector, universities are taking measures to reassure students who are considering postponing or reevaluating their plans to study in Canada.

The diplomatic rift between India and Canada first emerged in September when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that India may have played a role in the murder of a Sikh separatist advocate in British Columbia, an allegation that India vehemently denies. India is the largest source of international students in Canada, accounting for approximately 40% of study permit holders and contributing over CAD 20 billion to the Canadian economy annually.

To address the concerns of students, top universities are offering courses ranging in cost up to CAD 40,000 per year, while colleges are providing more affordable short-term options. By reaching out to educational institutions and foundations, universities are highlighting their commitment to continued collaboration. Reassurance efforts include video messages from consultancies like IDP Education to alleviate anxieties.

Although Canadian universities believe the impasse will be short-lived, questions about the upcoming semesters persist, and students are seeking reassurances about their safety in Canada. This uncertainty has led to inquiries about deferring courses and requests from current students to attend classes online. The unpredictable situation has colleges like Conestoga College allocating CAD 50 million annually to support students.

The international education industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, establishing itself as one of Canada’s major export sectors, surpassing industries such as auto parts, lumber, and aircraft. While York University’s President, Rhonda Lenton, expresses confidence that the situation will be resolved, families and aspiring candidates in Punjab, India, are increasingly worried. In Punjab alone, nearly one in every four families has a member studying or preparing to study in Canada.

As tensions persist, taxi-driver Jiwan Sharma in Punjab contemplates whether it’s the right decision for his son to pursue his education in Canada. Many families have invested substantial amounts, sometimes exceeding 250 million rupees ($3 million), hoping their children would settle in Canada and provide support in their old age.

While signs of tensions easing have not yet emerged, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly expressed Canada’s preference for private talks with India to address the diplomatic dispute. As the situation unfolds, Indian students in Canada hope for a resolution that will safeguard their educational and future prospects.


1. What caused the diplomatic crisis between India and Canada?

The diplomatic crisis between India and Canada originated from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement suggesting that India may have been involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist advocate in British Columbia. India vehemently denies these allegations.

2. How important are Indian students to the Canadian economy?

Indian students make up around 40% of the total international student population in Canada and contribute over CAD 20 billion to the Canadian economy each year. They play a crucial role in the growth of the country’s international education sector.

3. What measures are Canadian universities taking to reassure Indian students?

Canadian universities are offering courses ranging in cost from CAD 40,000 per year at top universities to more affordable short-term options at colleges. They are also reaching out to educational institutions and foundations to emphasize their commitment to continued collaboration.

4. Are Indian students considering delaying their courses?

In light of the diplomatic crisis, some Indian students are considering postponing their courses, while others are exploring alternative options for higher education. The uncertainty surrounding the situation has raised concerns among students about their safety and future prospects in Canada.