The Canadian government’s closure of visa services in a handful of countries around the world has impeded or delayed at least 100 international university students at UBC, according to media reports.
Of the approximately 550 foreign students entering Thompson Rivers University this year, a few are dealing with their own visa challenges but not because of federal government closures in Germany, Japan, Iran, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
Rather, securing student visas is more difficult for populations in certain parts of the world, according to Wes Koczka, TRU World’s associate vice president.
“If you’re a student coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the success rate and the rejection rate are actually the reverse of (the 90 to 95 per cent approval rate in) countries such as United States, England, Australia,” said Koczka.
“Their concern is, are they legitimate students? The second thing is, do they have the financial means to study when they come here?”
Of the 1,620 total international students, around 500 are from China, which has experienced far fewer visa-related delays over the past few years, said Koczka. The next most popular country of origin is Saudi Arabia with 250 students, then India with 200. Five African countries collectively add up to around 71 students, Russian students number around 70 Russian, and 50 Japanese students round out the numbers.
TRU World representatives are in touch with Canadian embassies wherever they go, and those federal employees are helpful in identifying opportunities for the universities in Canada and abroad, said Koczka.
But visa offices are independent from embassies and “that’s where some tension always exists,” said Koczka.
TRU is working through hurdles to help 13 students from Colombia navigate the bureaucracy to enter the university either this month or in January.
“However that’s not because they’ve closed that office,” said Koczka. “It’s because it’s a new market and we’re trying to encourage the awareness of Colombia as a new educational market for TRU and for Canada.”
The South American country is an attractive education partner because of its population base, respect of education and compatibility with TRU’s curriculum, said Koczka. TRU anticipates a total of 25 Colombian students by the end of the year.
“Colombia is a nation of 45 million people,” said Koczka. “Infrastructure is really solid, you have a reverence for education and you have very good universities both private and public.”