India is favourite destination of Canadian varsities

December 19th, 2010 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Dec 19 (IANS) India is back on the radar of Canadian universities and colleges which are looking to ramp up enrolment of Indian students, says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).According to AUCC president Paul Davidson, who led a huge educational mission to India last month, India is now becoming the favourite destination for Canadian universities seeking to woo foreign students.

“There is greater interest in India among our universities. But India was also the most sought-after destination by Canadian students this summer for internship,” Davidson told IANS in an interview.

But since there were only 2,800 India students compared to 18,000 Chinese among the 90,000 foreign students who enrolled in Canadian universities last year, Davidson said his mission was to turn the focus on India.

“Canadian universities are shifting focus towards India after China with which their engagement goes 40 years back. Engagement with India has begun late, but we will soon see a lot more Indian students studying in Canada,” said Davidson.

He said the importance of his Indian mission, which included presidents from Canada’s top 15 universities, could be gauged from the fact that it was the largest ever to visit any country.

“Firstly, we went there as part of our on-going strategic engagement with India. Secondly, we wanted to build upon the memorandum of understanding on higher education signed by Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh during his visit here in June,” said Davidson.

“Our mission was to put Canada on the map in India as people (students) there don’t know much about this country. We discussed student exchange programmes and some Canadian universities signed exchange agreements with Indian institutions,” he said.

Describing their engagement with the Indian private sector as the third dimension of their mission, Davidson said, “We sat for a whole with FICCI and it was a very successful meeting. We also spent some time with undergraduate students coming to Canada.”

As a couple of Canadian universities have already set up campuses in India, he said more Canadian universities were interested tie-up with Indian institutions.

Since visa hassles are the most cited problem by Indian students eager to come to Canada, Davidson said his organization was working with immigration authorities and the Canadian high commission in New Delhi to ease this problem.

“We have been working with Immigration Canada for the past four-five years to address these issues,” he said.

Foreign students pump more than $6 billion into the Canadian economy each year.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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