Universities woo students from India

SMU, Dal among schools trying to boost foreign recruitment

Canadian university presidents on second day of recruitment trip in India. (Photo courtesy of Tara Fraser)

Today is the third day of a week-long trip to India for 15 Canadian university presidents, who hope to attract potential Indian university students to Canadian schools. Presidents from Saint Mary's and Dalhousie are among the group.

Throughout the trip, Canadian school presidents are meeting with business leaders, government officials and 15 presidents from Indian universities. The group looks to establish Canada's higher education as a 'brand' in India by creating partnerships and programs that will lure more students from India to Canada.

The trip, which is the largest ever of its kind, was put together by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), a group that represents 95 Canadian universities and colleges.

Canada's mission

The Chronicle Herald reports that in 2008, the United States enroled 86,000 Indian students, the United Kingdom registered 30,000, and Australia enroled over 27,000. Canada only managed to attract 3,000 Indian students.

Click to Enlarge SMU enrolment trends from 2003 to 2010

"We are not on the radar of most of the Indians thinking of studying abroad," says AUCC president, Paul Davidson. "They need to know Canada offers quality education in a rich learning and research environment."

India has more than 17,000 colleges and 400 universities, which educate about 11 million domestic students. But in a country with 1.15 billion people, a lot of potential students are being left out of the post-secondary experience.

Davidson hopes that by creating awareness in India about Canadian schools, more of those students will choose Canada.

"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."

SMU's international students

In much of the last decade, Saint Mary's has experienced a steady decline in full-time enrolment. At the same time, the number of international students has been going up.

The number of international students enroled in Saint Mary's this year is more than double what it was in 2003 - going from 697 to 1,465 in seven years.

Paul Dixon, an associate vice president of enrolment at Saint Mary's registrar, says that a lot of decreasing enrolment has to do with a five-year decline in Nova Scotians registering for university.

"Some [Nova Scotia universities] have increased their numbers from outside Nova Scotia to make up the shortfall. All universities, except Acadia, have been increasing their international student recruitment."

Regarding the AUCC's trip to India, Dixon says though "the presidents likely will not be meeting with many individual students, [the trip] may be useful in raising the profile of Canadian universities with the Indian media."

The Times of India did pick up on the story before the meetings began. They released another story yesterday outlining some of the grants offered by the Canadian schools. One of Tuesday's announcements included $4 million worth of scholarships, programs and school partnerships, and a new full scholarship worth $30,000 for an Indian student wishing to enrol in Saint Mary's master of science program.

The trip wraps up November 15.


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