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Friday, November 16th, 2012

Does Canada want willy-nilly in India ?

The recent article, “Country could do more to attract Indian students, says critic” poses a question constantly bandied about in Canadian circles. Yes it could do better. But the article’s cursory nature is ultimately a disservice to a more penetrating examination of the wider issues.

Does Canada want more Indian students? If the answer is “yes”, is that a willy-nilly “yes”?

Is it “yes” irrespective of the distribution of programs or levels the students are bound for?
Is it “yes” Irrespective of academic calibre?
Is it “yes” irrespective of financial capacity?

We don’t have to guess what willy-nilly “yes” foretells – the Australian experience offers up plenty of concrete material.

And is it a given that Canada is underperforming? Not necessarily, and not as a whole even if some of its constituent institutional parts would answer affirmatively.

Some institutions are focussed on only top quality students for whom the competition is intense.
Some institutions are focussed only on Bachelor students who remain the most difficult to attract.
Some institutions are priced, within a Canadian and even international context, very high.

So, many parties must maintain expectations commensurate with their competitive environments and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Meanwhile, many student bodies at the college level are if anything, unduly skewed to cohorts of Indian nationals.

Some strategies can enhance success. For example, our own advisory position has long extolled the intrinsic benefits of course-based graduate programs (with careful admission criteria) as a way of also enhancing brand for an institution’s Bachelor programs. Channels for marketing in India are also changing rapidly, and hence, dedicated study and even presence, may offer astute ways of improving results.

In the end, an undue focus on numbers creates a self-fulfilling impetus for a willy-nilly approach, and the Student Partners Program which launched in India is a good example of numbers-obsession gone wild.

Is that what the critic called for ?



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About Dani

Dani has consulted universities, colleges, governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of international education since 1997. He is co-founder of Higher-Edge, the parent of Overseas, Overwhelmed, and a director of the Canadian University Application Centre. He is a former international and human rights lawyer and holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toronto Law School.

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