A Canadian social work student at the University of Edinburgh has been barred from their program’s work placement in India due to ongoing political tension between Canada and India.
India banned Canadian visas in September 2023 after Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of involvement in the death of Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed by gunmen in Vancouver last June.
Travel to India was reinstated in October 2023 for Canadian business, medical, conference, and entry visas, but student visas remain frozen.
The University’s social work Master’s program has run international placements for the past four years with students studying at Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kochi, India.
The Canadian social work student told The Student:
“I am extremely disappointed with the change of plans, especially over something that does not involve me directly.”
The student was not aware of the conflict until after they had already completed the visa application process and were denied a student visa.
“I had been planning to go since October, done a ton of research, and was so excited and grateful for the experience.
“I only have a Western culture background when working in social work and I wanted to see how other parts of the world engage and support their community.”
International students from outside Canada do not face the same restrictions and will begin the placement in India on 26 February 2024.
Darby Ellen, an American student, is attending the India placement because she “wanted a brand new experience.” Ellen is one of four student social workers traveling to India in February for the four-month placement.
On the Canadian student being excluded, Ellen told The Student:
“I think it’s terrible that [they] can’t go because that’s something [they] had no control over and no involvement in.
“The school says they can’t help with visa stuff, but they could have offered a bit of information.”
The Canadian student acknowledged that the program cannot change the political situation but that they “did not get any support with figuring out the visa process” and that “a little bit of guidance would have been extremely helpful.”
A spokesperson from the University of Edinburgh told The Student:
“We are proud to be a global university, making a contribution to the world through global partnership, community and exchange.
“Placements can help students network, learn new skills, and develop academic and professional prospects.”
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