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Candian University, Colleges heads to India for Student Admissions

New Delhi: It is that time of the year again, when students wishing to study abroad, begin frantic preparations to choose the correct university.

On top of their list are colleges in the US, the UK and Australia. Not to be left far behind, now Canada too is aggressively wooing Indian students.

“With the US or UK, universities brand themselves so well that students are attracted to the name, regardless of their experience with the country. In Canada, you always have a relative studying there or have family in the country,” says Sonali Saigal, who studied at McGill University in Montreal.

Canada has a lot of things to offer in its favour. Work permits post completing university is easy to get and applying for Permanent Residency is simple too.

The problem though is colleges there don’t brand themselves aggressively.

“Canadian universities, such as York and Western Ontario, need to build their brands amongst Indian students as they are absolutely fantastic, but sadly Indian students are unaware of their value,” adds Sonali.

Now, most Canadian educational institutions have embarked on aggressive marketing campaigns to encourage students from India.

Maple Leaf, an educational marketing and consulting firm in Delhi, has tied up with at least four institutions in Montreal, Vancouver and other places to promote their brand.

“India is a very big market for these universities and colleges and they are looking forward to it in a big way. They are hiring representatives in India to market their brand who will execute their strategies like recruiting, partnerships, and other things on ground,” said Vinay Chaudhry, the CEO of Maple Leaf Edu Connect.

Kings University College in Alberta has started an online business simulation competition with Indian schools. The winners of the competition are given college scholarships.

“Indian students are outstanding. Their presence will add a lot more diversity and maximum knowledge transfer could take place,” said Marilyn Mason, the Registrar of King’s University College.

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) is planning to host a summer camp themed “Sustainable development as seen through different disciplinary perspectives” for high school students from India in June 2012 with an objective of offering them an opportunity to explore a Canadian pre-university experience.

“At the successful completion of this camp, certificates will be awarded that will be helpful in seeking admission to the UNB,” said Koumari Mitra, a PhD Professor at UNB.

Several Canadian institutions are in joint partnerships with institutes in India, such as IIM-Bangalore and Pearl Academy of Fashion for student, faculty exchange programs and other joint researches.

The Schulich School of Business in Toronto is building its campus in Hyderabad with the help of infrastructure company GMR Group. It will start recruiting students in near future.

These institutions are also getting support from the High Commission of Canada in Delhi.

“In 2010, over 12,000 study permits were issued for Indian students which were nearly thrice that were issued in 2008,”said Simon Cridland, a spokesman at High Commission of Canada.

“Once the student has graduated, he can work in Canada for three years and after the first year, can apply for permanent residence,” Cridland added.

The Canadian government has also sanctioned 10 million dollars to develop and implement an international education strategy that will reinforce it as a country of choice to study and conduct world-class research.

“We are expecting an additional batch of 250 Indian students in September 2011,” said Wendy Curtis, a director of London”s Fanshawe College.

“The number of Indian students in our classes has increased from 5 to 10 and we want it to further increase,” added Mason.

These universities have more reasons for hunting foreign students.

“Given our shrinking demographic and aging workforce, colleges have a significant role to play in training a competitive workforce; for those students who wish to stay in Canada after graduation, a college education is an important step to their competitiveness and Canada’s,” said Curtis.

“Canadian students need to become familiar with the Indian culture and learn how to work with Indian people. We hope to equip our students with the competencies and attitudes to do business with India,” she added.

Indian students returning from Canada too are contributing. ICAN- India Canada Alumni Network, formed in 2010, is building a networking platform for students who wish to study in Canada.

“We realize the value of Canadian education and want to share this with others looking to study abroad,” adds Sonali who is also one of founding members of ICAN.