Amid a housing crisis, Canada has imposed a two-year cap on international student admissions. Canada's employment market encounters hurdles as international students voice discontent over escalating housing expenses and frequent alterations in visa and admission regulations. Adding to these challenges, the recent diplomatic tensions between India and Canada have led to a significant decrease in Indian students seeking Canadian study visas.
In an interview with The Free Press Journal (FPJ), Saurabh Arora, the CEO of University Living which is a popular student housing platform, explained the housing crisis and the repercussions of the student cap.
FPJ: Could you describe the current housing situation for students in Canada?
Arora: The housing situation for students in Canada has become increasingly challenging, primarily due to rising rental costs, limited availability of accommodations, and a surge in demand driven by the growing number of international students choosing Canadian universities. This imbalance between supply and demand has created shortages in student housing and intensified competition for available units.
To cope with these challenges, students in Canada have been exploring various accommodation options, including on-campus residences, private rentals, homestays, and purpose-built student accommodations (PBSAs).
FPJ: How do you think the two-year cap will help the housing situation?
Arora: The proposed cap raises valid concerns about potential limitations on educational and career opportunities for these students. Therefore, maintaining a balanced and neutral approach is crucial to uphold the inclusivity that has made Canada an attractive destination for international students. Additionally, in the long run, this adjustment will foster growth in the student accommodation industry, providing quality living homes for students, cooling down the cost-of-living inflation, and stabilising the economy. Job opportunities are expected to increase, as graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programmes become eligible to apply for a three-year work permit.
FPJ: Is Canada still an affordable place for international students?
Arora: Canada has traditionally been seen as an attractive destination for international students due to its high-quality education system and inclusive environment. However, the increasing cost of living, including accommodation, tuition fees, and other expenses, poses challenges for students, particularly those with limited financial resources. Regarding the recent policy change in Canada concerning rent increases, it's important to acknowledge its potential impact on the affordability of studying abroad for international students. While the two-year cap on rent increases is a step towards addressing rising housing costs, affordability remains a significant concern, encompassing various aspects beyond just rent. Ensuring that international students can access affordable education and accommodation is essential for fostering diversity and inclusion in higher education. As stakeholders continue to work towards improving affordability, it's our hope that international students can pursue their academic aspirations in Canada without facing undue financial burden.
FPJ: According to you, which are some alternate countries that are more affordable for international students?
Arora: Some of the emerging study-abroad destinations can be Germany, France, Ireland, Dubai, Malta, Spain, Singapore and New Zealand. Germany offers a thriving academic landscape and remarkable affordability have led to a 107% increase in Indian student enrolment. Spain, with its faster visa process (30-60 days) and lower cost of living, is a welcoming option. For those seeking vibrant cultural experiences, Dubai stands out with its streamlined visa procedure (15-20 days) and dynamic educational infrastructure. Singapore is Asia's academic power house, and has witnessed a tenfold increase in Indian students within a year. France has also committed to host 30,000 Indian students by 2030 New Zealand and Ireland are also emerging as attractive.
FPJ: Could you describe how University Living has been helping students?
Arora: At University Living, our mission is to provide comprehensive support to students by offering a wide range of accommodation options tailored to their needs. Considering the recent policy change in Canada regarding rent increases, we have been actively assisting students in navigating the evolving housing landscape. Our platform serves as a one-stop solution for students seeking accommodation in Canada, offering access to a diverse portfolio of housing options, including on-campus residences, private rentals, and PBSAs. Through our user-friendly website and dedicated support team, we strive to empower students to make informed decisions about their housing arrangements.
FPJ: How will the cap affect University Living? Do you see the rates going down?
Arora: The recent cap imposed by Canada will not have a significant impact on University Living, as we had already anticipated such developments. Consequently, we have proactively addressed the situation by ensuring a robust supply of accommodations. Currently, we offer over 2 million beds globally, catering to a diverse range of preferences and budgets. University Living remains well-equipped to continue serving the accommodation needs of students worldwide, irrespective of policy changes. Our commitment to providing flexible, high-quality housing options remains unwavering, ensuring a seamless experience for students seeking accommodation solutions.