The country’s public colleges and universities increasingly rely on international students, especially from India, even as tensions between the two nations have flared.
On a college campus in northern Canada, eight hours by car from Toronto, most of the students who fill the classrooms are from a country half a world away: India.
The young men and women stretching on mats in the gymnasium are more likely to be from Punjab or Gujarat, two Indian states, rather than rural Ontario. Hindi and Punjabi drowned out English in the cafeteria’s lunchtime cacophony.
In the surrounding city of Timmins, the waiters at two new Indian restaurants do not ask customers how spicy they want their dishes. A shuttered bar named Gibby’s has been reopened as a Sikh temple, or gurdwara, where students from the school, Northern College, gathered on a recent evening.
“We feel like we are in India,” said Mehardeep Singh, 20, a general arts and science major, who led a prayer. “In every class, there are only three or four local people. The rest are from India.”
Northern College traditionally drew its students from the province of Ontario’s vast, sparsely populated hinterland, a region dominated by miners and loggers. Today, a whopping 82 percent of the public college’s students come from abroad — nearly all from India.