VANCOUVER (CUP) 8212; Fifteen Canadian university presidents began a seven-day excursion to India today in order to build ties with Indian universities.
The delegation is travelling on behalf of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and includes presidents from the University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University, University of Alberta, Wilfrid Laurier University and others. It is the largest group of Canadian university leaders to travel to India.
“Strong universities help build strong societies. They also strengthen regional economies while enhancing a country’s capacity to contribute to the world economy,” Stephen Toope, UBC president, said in a statement regarding the mission. “Canadian universities can build beneficial partnerships in India to create exceptional learning opportunities for students and research collaborations that improve our societies nationally and globally.”
The group will be meeting with Indian educators, members of the business community and government officials to build relationships and agreements with Indian institutions and to attract more Indian students to study in Canada. They will also be participating in a summit on advanced education organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
India is facing a shortage of seats for university education. In his spring convocation speech at UBC, Toope said that India would need to build around 800 new universities over the next decade, with 60,000 students each, to meet the country’s growing demand for post-secondary education.
Tens of thousands of students travel to Australia, the U.K. and the United States for school. However, because of stringent visa requirements, only around 4,000 come to Canada.
“We also want to raise Canada’s profile,” Paul Davidson, AUCC president, said in a media release. “And given the vast complex nature of the Indian market, this collective effort of Canadian universities is a necessary step to maximize impact there. We are not on the radar of most of the Indians thinking of studying abroad. They need to know Canada offers quality education in a rich learning and research environment.”
“This mission is a way for us to get to know India and its needs more deeply &- and to make sure that when Indians think of research and higher education, they think of us. Educators and business people in India need to know that Canadian universities are open to building successful partnerships that will enrich experiences for students, strengthen links between our countries and advance international research collaboration.”
The trip comes at a time when a bill is presently making its way through the Indian Parliament that would allow foreign universities to open satellite campuses in India. The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Act would mean that for the universities that do set up in India, students would pay domestic tuition.