Canada’s Popularity With Students From Punjab


The statistics on Indian students’ mobility for studying broad list the US as the top destination with about 47% of the total outbound students heading there. While Canada gets a 17% to the total share of the students the overall international student population rose up to drastically percent from 2008 to 2015, reaching more than 350,000, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

Studying in Canada is nearly every Punjabi’s [North Indians in Punjab] dream today. How has this country come up to be the most popular destination for Indian students?

Some of the reasons for the popularity of Canada with students from Punjab are:

  • Canada is considered to be a very safe country to study in
  • Racial tolerance is higher in Canada owing to a huge Indian community in Canada
  • The cost of tuition is relatively lower from countries like the USA
  • The 20-hours work right outside the college/campus in Canada [as opposed to no work right to work outside the campus] during studies.
  • The post-study work permit allows students the lucrative work rights.
  • Opportunity to gain extra points for a path to Immigration.

In addition to these commonly observed reasons, some other decisive factors that have contributed to the popularity of this country with students from Punjab are:

  • The Canadian Institutions employ a strong marketing drive motivating the consultants/agents with incentives for recruiting students.
  • Streamlined and clearly defined requirements in terms of Funds, English proficiency etc.
  • An Interview with the Visa Officer not required, as in the case with the US.
  • Peer influence with friends choosing Canada over other countries.

For the above reasons, Canada retains its position as the most preferred study abroad destination for study Punjabi students for the last ten years.




From Instant IELTS to PTE Instant Testing If you are looking for an English Test Preparation Coaching Centre you may have to walk through a plethora of Coaching Centers from the ones in Air Conditioned Multi-storied Buildings to cramped up rooms in STD cum Fax cum Photostat Shops.

And if you ever began to get lured by anything that says: “Get an IELTS Band of 6.0 in 30 Days” or “We guarantee 7 Bands in IELTS or Money Back” or even an advertisement with a couple of dozen IELTS achievers-Think Again.

Firstly, IELTS or any other English Test Coaching, for that matter, is not a monthly diet plan a center puts you on and you walk away with the desired score at the end of the month. Nor is the money ever back for coaching that promises of Money-Back-Guarantee. And above all, an array of pictures or names of those who scored 7 Bands or higher may be a few dozen out of the hundreds or thousands who did not get a score worthy of display. Or simply those may be the scores of people whose linguistic abilities may be far better than yours.

In this part of the world where I live- Punjab, amusingly IELTS is regarded more as a ‘qualification’ than an English proficiency test for those seeking to go abroad. Here a matrimonial resume with IELTS score is sure to get a serious re-consideration by the bride-seeker. For the youth at large, IELTS preparation is a “Must-Do” on their checklist of vocational chores even before they can think of a specific reason as to why they need to sit for the test.

The self-proclaimed band of Trainers on the other hand further adds to the miserable numbers. With functional English skill level, Trainers swarm the job market as un-certified Trainers [the “un” not being a serious concern at all] and those who manage a proficient level in the test themselves are regarded as “Gurus” who can bless each of the students with the “mantra” for 7 bands.

So, the ‘buzz-word’ is IELTS [and prizes for those who can pronounce it correctly]. The test has emerged more as a fad in the region for over a decade now. The only competition to the test has been the test itself. Students struggle to crack the code for scoring better through IELTS-IDP or IELTS-British Council. One even goes as far as driving down from Delhi or flying down from Melbourne to Jalandhar in pursuit of a favorable marking or a band score. Myths and fallacies cloud this increasingly popular test that has been riding its luck for years now.

In an interesting revelation made in an article by The Pie News, the UKBA found out in June 2012 that around a fifth of applicants were said to have insufficient English despite having an approved English language test certificate. The majority of those interviewed were from India and Pakistan. I would take the liberty to presume here that the approved English test referred to was none other than IELTS. That brought me to seriously wonder about the standardization of this standardized test.

Some test takers have been heard complaining about not getting a score in the “Speaking” and “Writing” section in consistence with the other two sections “Reading” and ‘Listening”. While a lot can be attributed to the individual factors, I do seem to trace a pattern involving the “human factor” in the assessment, as both the Speaking and Writing sections, can be subject to the discretionary approach of the examiner. With this in mind, would IELTS be regarded as a test for unbiased and fair evaluation?

Pearson Test of English [PTE] Academic seems to be parallel to the IELTS test offering students a choice now. The test promoters appear to be very enthusiastic about the improved efficiency in booking the test, flexibility in the availability of test dates, single sitting test completion, faster test results and much more. The promoters of IELTS, on the other hand, apprehend that the PTE test being computer based might be a dampening factor as basic computer literacy is a pre-requisite for taking the test. But with keyboard familiar youth [thanks to the chatting and texting frenzy on hi-fi keyboard based phones these days] I wonder if this would stand tall in its way. Whether the test is going to be as commercially viable and popular as the IELTS remains to be seen but what is evidently clear is that the test is expected to be a fairer measure of one’s English proficiency.

PTE Academic is a fun way of taking an English proficiency test and a break from the monotony of the IELTS test. The activity-based test is better equipped at assessing the proficiency of the test taker without the prejudices or intimidations of the examiners. Apart from the fringe benefits for the test -takers like lesser duration tasks, MCMAs, complimentary copies of test scores and a variety of the tasks, the test would perhaps be more reliable and free from ‘human biases’. PTE Academic certainly appears to be the improved version of other available standardized tests. The uniqueness of this test lies in it being able to effectively assess the communicative and enabling skills of the test takers while giving equal impetuous to oral fluency and written discourse rather than focusing merely on grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and spelling.

While PTE Academic is globally recognized by the DIAC, UKBA and the US the test is yet to gain certification for Canada and New Zealand. Nevertheless, a breakthrough has been made and the newly devised test is sure to give IELTS a serious run for the money




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What do the Visa Officers look for in a Student Visa Application?


  • Bonafide Student– An integral part of a student’s assessment for a visa is to understand whether he/she is a bonafide student or not. This is to say, that whether the student is a genuine student who aspires to study abroad and has the academic and financial capability to pursue his studies overseas. This also essentially means that the student must not be somebody merely using a study visa to enter a country for purposes other than studying. Also, the Visa Officers need to ensure that student is enrolled in an academic program after getting a student visa and not resort to unauthorized work or compromise with his/her student status after the grant of a visa.
  • Non-Immigrant Intent- Commonly, students and visa advisors look at a student visa as a route to eventually work or settle in that country. This strictly goes against the principle of a student visa. A student is required to clearly establish before the consulate that he has no intentions of immigrating or settling in that country.
  • Choice of Program- The Visa Officer would need to look into whether the academic program the student aspires to study for is related to his/her previous field of studies. Also, the visa officer would need to understand how studying for a program abroad would contribute to his/her career plans. Basically, there has to be a logical fit between what the student studied, what he/she intend to study and how that education is important to fulfilling the career goals.
  • Choice of University/College– Why a student chose a particular university would be another concern for the consulate. How well he/she researched other colleges/universities before finalizing on the one selected would be critical to their understanding of one as a bonafide student. A meritious applicant would usually have admission letters from more than one college or university.
  • Study Abroad Destination– Why did a student choose to study in the country he/she applied for is another area of concern. The student will need to clarify the merits of studying in that country over others, and most importantly India. The visa officers usually ascertain why a student chose to go overseas and pay a heavy tuition fee, in addition to affording other expense when similar education could be available in India/home country at a much lesser cost.
  • English Proficiency Scores- To be able to study in an English-speaking country, a student’s English proficiency is expected to be at the at least competent level if not proficient. Students who fail to demonstrate a good English proficiency would stand slim chances of getting a visa as the Visa Officer would rightly question the student’s ability to be able to cope up with the requirements of an academic program in English.
  • Standardised Tests– Majority of the universities and many colleges insist upon standardised test scores like the SAT for undergraduate students, GMAT for students aspiring to study for a graduate [Masters level] Business and Management program, and a GRE for students wanting to study for any Masters Degree Program [other than Business and Management studies, like the MBA]. The purpose behind the Visa Officers’ expectation for a student to have these scores is to understand their preparedness in a competitive, international and academic environment. These tests serve as the scholastic evaluation of international students on a global platform.
  • Academic Profile– The overall profile of the student is another area where the Visa Officers need to see a clear logical transition of studies and performance throughout the student’s academic career in order to understand whether there have been consistencies or major deviations in the student’s academic profile.
  • Financial Capability- The student’s ability to fund his/her education is an important area the Visa Officers watch for. Who would be sponsoring the students’ studies and whether the sponsor is a convincing enough or not? The student must demonstrate the availability of sufficient funds to be able to pay for his/her studies and living expenses, without draining out all the savings accumulated over a period of time by the family.
  • Future Plans– The Visa officers also try to assess how the student intends using the qualification he will obtain overseas upon returning to India. Therefore, understand the student’s future plans play a pivotal role. For example, if a student proposes that studying for a program abroad would help him/she get a good job in that country; this goes against the purpose and intent for a student visa. Such a student would be looked at as a potential migrant with an intention to settle in the country permanently. Also, understanding the student’s future plans help a Visa Officer decide whether the education he/she aspires for, is critical to realize his/her career goals.
  • What would bring one back to the home country– Finally, the Visa Officers need to understand that you have solid reasons to bring you back home upon completion of your students. Things that can convince the consulate about your intentions to come back could be- having a family business to join back home, a sought-after career, well-established family to return to, familial ties etc

What To Look For When Choosing an IELTS Coaching Centre.


* Find out if the Centre helped you identify the areas you need coaching for- reading, writing, speaking or listening. Ask if your trainer can provide you concentrated training focused on improving your score in particular sections.
* Find out if the coaching centre has a formalized system to pre-test your basic English proficiency level and enroll you in an appropriate batch for students with caliber similar to yours and with similar IELTS score goals.
* Find out if your Trainer is a certified trainer. If not, insist on a demonstration class to assess the quality of training provided by the centre.
* Check out whether the Coaching Centre maintains and regularly updates a library for IELTS course material. It is more important for a good coaching centre to have a well-stocked library for reference books and study material than central air conditioning.
* Assess whether the Coaching centre has understood the purpose of your taking the test and helped you make an informed decision about the type of IELTS test you need to take- whether General Training or Academic; and has provided you unbiased information about the options and procedure for taking the IELTS test.
* Understand what the Coaching Centre / trainer commits to provide to you and tell you what to do if you don’t get the IELTS score you need.

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