Restrictions on Canadian student visas may redirect Bangladeshi students to Russia and China


In a recent announcement, the Canadian government revealed a significant reduction of 35 percent in the issuance of visas to international undergraduate students for the years 2024 and 2025. Additionally, the government has substantially increased the cost of living requirement, raising it from 10,000 Canadian dollars to 20,635 Canadian dollars. For Bangladeshi students, who traditionally view Canada as a top destination for higher education, these policy changes are prompting them to reconsider their plans.

Over the past 7-8 years, there has been notable growth in the number of Bangladeshi students opting for colleges and universities in China and Hong Kong SAR for their higher studies. These institutions have gained international recognition for their high-quality education, and many of them offer scholarships to Bangladeshi students.

With shifting dynamics, where Western universities are becoming increasingly expensive and campuses are experiencing frequent incidents of gun violence, guardians of Bangladeshi students are expressing reluctance to send their children to Western educational institutions. Instead, they are showing a growing interest in enrolling their children in colleges and universities in China and Hong Kong SAR. Moreover, they are exploring educational opportunities in Russia that offer English-language curricula for foreign students.

It’s worth noting that Canada has emerged as a significant study destination over the past decade, with the number of study permits issued to Bangladeshi individuals soaring from 1,365 in 2015 to 9,535 in 2023, as per data from IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). However, with the recent policy changes, students are now compelled to reassess their academic plans for the future.

Speaking anonymously, a student at Yale International School in Dhaka, preparing for his A-2 Level exams, had previously set his sights on attending university in Canada this fall. He had applied to several universities, enticed by the scholarships available for programs of his interest. However, the visa restrictions have dealt a significant blow to his aspirations.

“I had personal motivations to pursue education in Canada and had been diligently working towards it. But now, even if I secure scholarships, there’s uncertainty regarding visa approvals. In such circumstances, I may have to explore suitable universities in China or Hong Kong SAR,” he lamented.

The student revealed that he had already incurred expenses of around US$ 2,000 for his applications, unaware of the visa restrictions imposed by Canadian authorities at the time.