Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, July 28
Even as Punjab debates the distressing issues of unemployment and drugs, a silent exodus of students is on — an estimated 1.5 lakh this year. That is the number of admissions in overseas colleges and universities that private emigration consultants in the state have facilitated for the ‘spring’ and ‘fall’ sessions this year.
The emigration process comes at a cost — Rs 15 to Rs 22 lakh for the first year of study, depending on the institute, course and country. Multiplied by the number of students flying out, that amounts to approximately Rs 27,000 crore going out of Punjab each year on account of student education.
With the Canadian government being the most liberal among developed countries in the grant of Permanent Residency (PR), and opening up as many as 200 colleges to international students, Punjabi youth are making full use of the opportunity. As many as 1.25 lakh students from the state chose Canada this year for education — while only 25,000 picked Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK, where laws and policies have become very stringent.
Travel agents engaged in facilitating the Canadian visa for students say the trend has seen a spurt since 2016, when around 75,000 students from Punjab had gone to the country.
Kamal Bhumla, chairman of the Association of Consultants for Overseas Studies, says, “When I started working in this field 22 years ago, we were primarily serving children of upper middle class who were not willing to work in India. Currently, I am in the process of sending out a girl whose mother works as domestic help. At the same time, there is a youth whose father is a serving IG in the police. Canada has opened its gates to international students, with 4.94 lakh foreign students getting registered there this year; almost 1.25 lakh of these are Punjabis.”
The massive emigration process has meant huge business for travel agents, IELTS coaching centres, and money changers in the state. However, as reported by The Tribune earlier, colleges and universities in the state are in a fix as they are losing their potential students to foreign shores, and are being forced to overcome the challenge.
Anil Chopra, chairman of St Soldier Institutions in Jalandhar, says: “We have started offering free IELTS coaching to students joining our BBA or BCA course; and it has helped.”
Manjit Kaur of Bholath, whose son went to Brampton in Canada for a two-year business accounts diploma, says, “I had to put together Rs 22 lakh for my son towards his fee and living expense for the first year. I am told he would be able to manage his next year’s costs on his own from part-time work. If he gets PR by the third or fourth year in Canada, he could then start sending us money to repay the loans we have taken for him.”
At an interaction organised at KMV College here last Thursday, state Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi told students, “Our government is set to offer more courses and job opportunities in the state. I would like to caution you against falling in the emigration trap. It has made Punjab lose at least Rs 20,000 crore this year. I was recently in Canada, and saw the plight of students there. Some of them work 16 hours a day to make ends meet. There are ‘universities’ operating from a single room, with just five students enrolled. For those interested in going abroad for education, the government will soon start a programme to arrange it for them so that students don’t end up being cheated by agents. I will take up this proposal in the next Cabinet meeting.”
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