Subscribe to RSS

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Lesson in Lahore for Canada. America not wanted !

I spent last week in Pakistan. I’ve been going there since 1998 and have made about fifty trips. Lahore is my favourite city in South Asia. But my how things have changed.

When I first got to Karachi 14 years ago, a Canadian dollar got you about 35 Pakistani rupees. Today it’s almost 90. Back then when I talked to students and families about going abroad for higher education, the United States was almost always the first choice, with the UK, a traditional Commonwealth destination for three generations, still a distant second. No more. Not only is America rarely mentioned by students, even when I ask about going to the US for a degree most Pakistanis flatly refuse to even consider it.

Sad to see higher education, the great stage upon which to build meaningful dialogue and exchange, be absolutely discounted in a place where it’s so badly needed to moderate antagonism and develop shared experiences and understanding. I wonder where there is going to be any rapprochement ? It looks to me to be quite far off at this point, and given the way sabres rattle even louder in US federal elections on talking tough on security, I expect the chasm of discomfort to be even more greatly pronounced between Pakistan and the United States for some time to come.

Apart from the obvious danger of growing tensions between two of the world’s most potent military forces (and both nuclear armed), it’s a real loss for American universities and colleges, who for years were educating some of the brightest minds in Asia. Now when I am talking to kids from the best high schools in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad – they and their parents are afraid of America. When for a decade and a half I had to convince them to consider an alternative to Michigan, Texas and California – now I wouldn’t even be able to talk them into going to the States !

Opportunity knocks for Canada. There are at least fifty excellent high schools in Pakistan. Another dozen universities have world-class graduates. Canadian public universities with their world-class programs and standards for excellent students, have a rich opening to recruit students.

Unfortunately, most Canadians will still see it as a minefield to visit rather than a field of minds to cultivate.

True, one has to be mindful when travelling to Pakistan, but it is probably the most misunderstood country in Asia, by those in the West. For those who can summon perspective and courage, it is an opportunity to not only recruit outstanding students, but to engage in sophisticated discussion on some of the most pressing issues of our time, and do so on the ground where it matters most.


Add your comment


4 + 8 =

Other articlesgo to homepage

Canada makes a mess of it.

Canada makes a mess of it.(3)

There is nothing like spending a week talking to students in India’s Punjab to bring a focus to what a mess Canada has made in a market that has spilled over to international recruiting around the globe. Prospective students in Punjab are like sheep in how easily they follow advice on study abroad, whether from

Canada’s int’l edu strategy: Low-lying fruit

Canada’s int’l edu strategy: Low-lying fruit(1)

Two weeks ago I met with an excellent engineering degree graduate in India whom I counselled for a master degree in Canada. He was dubious about this study pathway and asked me point blank: “Sir, why then do most Indians go for Post Graduate Diplomas ?” This question and the answer reveal where Canada is

“No Confidence” in the University’s ability to change.

“No Confidence” in the University’s ability to change.(0)

I have never met the president of New York University. I don’t know much about John Sexton, other than the faculty of NYU voted “no confidence” against him last week. What I do know is this is an acute illustration of how poorly structured universities are to tackle the dramatic challenges they face. As post-secondary

Is Canada and India brewing in the same kettle ?

Is Canada and India brewing in the same kettle ?(0)

In the recent University Affairs, Professor Douglas Parker of Laurentian University critiques his teaching experience in India. He claims in turn for high tuition fees at private universities, expectations were that regardless of how students did, they passed. Point well taken. But aren’t some of our Canadian pots the ones calling the Indian kettle black.

The Rankings Rankle

The Rankings Rankle(2)

The latest Maclean’s university rankings came out last week. It’s a big seller for Maclean’s and biggest con in Canadian post-secondary education. In Canada, where virtually all universities are public, funded to a similar base per student, and regulated to maintain the same standards, it’s a manipulation to make hay with rankings. I remember sitting

read more

About Mel

Mel 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 award-winning CBC reporter and holds a Masters degree from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

Other sites from the publishers

zi xiu tang
Website by Site Nova
© Copyright 2012 Overseas Overwhelmed All rights reserved.

Warning: include(img/settings.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /u/m/mdbazaar/ on line 84

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening 'img/settings.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:') in /u/m/mdbazaar/ on line 84