Covid is not a hindrance for students wishing to study abroad, data shows
The Covid pandemic, ensuing lockdown and economic slump have failed to prevent Indian students, especially those in the Punjab, from fulfilling their dreams of studying abroad, according to records.
Representatives from various Punjabi banks told The Indian Express there has been no slackening of demands from students seeking loans to take courses abroad, even as the Covid pandemic swept the country.
Figures obtained from the Home Departments of Canada, UK, US and Australia show that around 2.81 lakh students received study permits from India in 2020 and during the first and second trimesters of 2021, of which 60-65% of students (nearly 1.68 lakhs to 1.82 lakhs) were from Punjab.
Each student who obtains a study permit has to fund their tuition and living expenses for the first year, which costs around Rs 13 to 20 lakh, depending on their courses and the country they choose.
The rest of the course fees are usually organized by the students themselves, who mostly take part-time jobs for the same, thereby helping local businesses and helping the economy of that particular country grow.
In 2019-2020, Indian students contributed an estimated $ 6.6 billion to the Australian economy, said Leverage Education, a platform that provides comprehensive services to students pursuing international studies and careers in more than 250 universities in various countries.
Figures from the Canadian Home Office revealed that around 2.92 lakh Indian students have been granted study permits in the country in the past three years, with 85,700 students obtaining such permits in 2020.
In 2021, about 67,000 study permits were issued by Canada from January to April, according to sources from the Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) for Canada.
“About 1.40 lakh of study permits for students were issued by Canada in 2019 and 85,700 in 2020. This year the numbers are expected to hit India’s 1.75 lakh mark,” said Can-Able Immigration Consultants, based in Ludhiana, which is headed by Khilandeep Singh. Singh, who also runs an International English Language Testing System Center, added that of the total number of students going to Canada, the percentage of Punjab students is between 60 and 70%, which translates to a huge outflow of money from the state. from Punjab. He said there was still a huge backlog of claims as Canadian authorities have yet to be acquitted.
Singh further informed that the UK, which relaxed standards even when Covid was at its peak, saw 50,076 Indian students move there in 2020 and 37,000 in 2019. Of these, around 70% came only from Punjab.
âLikewise, Australia saw 23,354 students and the United States saw 14,971 students respectively obtain permits in 2020. The majority of them were Punjabis,â he said.
Gurpreet Singh, of the consultancy firm i-Can, which deals with students going to study in Canada and other countries, said: âIf we take the UK numbers from September 2020 to September 2021, then the country issued study visas to 90,669 students, a 197% jump from the pre-pandemic year of 2019. â
He added that the money for the first year of study abroad is managed by the students in various ways, through different sources.
âStudents sometimes take loans (if they are eligible) from the bank or put their properties – like farmland, a house – as collateral. They also borrow from relatives or knock on doors from private finance companies, âGurpreet said, adding that sometimes even farmers borrow money from their Arhtiyas for this purpose.
Sonali Sharma, director of the Punjab National Bank in New Dana Mandi (New Cereal Market), Jalandhar, said she received 10 to 12 applications almost every day for “student loans”, as a result of the loosening of travel restrictions by several countries. She said the bank carefully considered each request before accepting or rejecting it.
âThe student can borrow their entire course fee from the bank at an interest rate of around 8.5-8.8%,â Sonali said, adding that these loans are only available to students. who are going to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree abroad. Diploma courses were not covered.
The figures showed, however, that around 85% of students who went abroad took degree courses, for which loans were hard to come by.
âThese students manage their funds privately,â she said, adding that first-year fees must be deposited in advance to study at almost all foreign universities.
A senior bank official, responsible for student loans at the State Bank of India, a branch in the Nakodar region, said his bank had also seen an increase in the number of applications for higher education loans, since that the vaccination process has accelerated.
An official at HDFC bank in Jalandhar, on the other hand, said they are extremely careful in reviewing applications and sometimes even reject applications when they think the borrower may default.
A director of private finance in the Adampur region said they make loans against farmland, which farmers then use to send their wards abroad. He informed that over the past year, they have given loans to nearly 60 to 70 farmers in their area against their land, which they have used to send their children to study in Canada and the UK.
âWhen I had to send my daughter to Canada last year, I tried to get a loan from all the banks. However, I have been told that there is no policy to fund diploma courses. We then arranged the money from our own sources and by borrowing from relatives, âsaid Satbir Singh of Kapurthala.