According to a 2006 AUCC survey India ranked either number one or two among all non-OECD countries as a top priority by Canadian universities for pursuing both academic partnerships and research collaboration.
It’s for this reason that 15 Canadian university presidents are going on a seven-day visit to New Delhi starting November 8, led by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “The main goal of the visit is to find new ways for Canadian and Indian universities to work together,” says AUCC President Paul Davidson. This includes strengthening research collaboration efforts, facilitating faculty exchanges and providing new scholarships.
So why India?
Since the 1990s, the Indian economy has been booming, giving rise to a much larger middle-class population. This has resulted in more children whose parents are able to afford a university education. However, with 18,000 postsecondary institutions (400 of them universities) serving 11 million domestic students, there aren’t enough schools to meet the heavy demand – even with 1,400 new postsecondary institutions planned over the next few years.
The delegation going to New Delhi will be advancing partnerships between Canadian and local postsecondary institutions. They will meet with government representatives like Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development, representatives from several Indian universities, as well as members of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Creating an awareness of Canada’s “brand”
While universities in Canada see the potential for partnering with India, Indians may not even be considering Canada simply because they do not know much about our country. As Kevin Lynch wrote in a recent Policy Options article (PDF), “The good news is we don’t have a negative brand [in India]; the less good news is we have essentially no brand at all.”
Yet, Canada and India share many commonalities: we are both part of the Commonwealth, we are both parliamentary democracies, and we both have English as an official language. Also, Canada is home to over one million people of Indian origin. “The second goal of the visit is to establish Canada’s profile in India. We have to let people know that Canada stands for excellence in higher education and research, especially in fields of interest to India,” says Mr. Davidson of AUCC.
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