Woo Indian students to Canada through education diplomacy: Expert

Ryan M. Touhey, a professor who has authored a study titled "A new direction for the Canada-India relationship", says India is a huge education market for Canada and Ottawa should lose no time in wooing Indian students.
Currently, Canada gets only about 4,000 Indian students each year, compared to 80,000 going to the US, 40,000 to Australia, and 25,000 to Britain.
"Canada has done a poor job of attracting Indian students. Even New Zealand attracts about 6,000 students -- more than Canada," Touhey, who teaches history at the University of Waterloo near here, said.
Quoting World Bank figures, he said the international education market is worth about $300 billion annually.
Being second only to China in sending the number of students abroad, he said India could be a huge education market for Canada which needs to combine its 'education diplomacy' with 'public diplomacy' to raise its profile in India.
Highlighting Canada's poor advocacy efforts in India compared to the US, Britain and Australia, Touhey said the Canadian High Commission in Delhi received just $50,000 in 2007-08 to promote higher education opportunities in Canada.
"This is a pathetic figure," according to him.
He said Canada should learn from Australians who have gone about wooing Indian students through their 'Brand Australia' education marketing campaign under the Australia India Council (AIC) since 1992.
As a result, he said, the number of Indian students in Australia rose from just 300 in 1994-95 to 40,000 in 2008.
"By contrast, one of the frequent criticisms of Canada in India is that it is unclear what Canada offers," he said in his paper.
Encouraging Indian students to study and develop their skills in Canada will also spell long-term diplomatic benefits for the country, according to him.
Citing the benefits to America of its Fulbright Programme which has produced nearly  300,000 scholars so far, Touhey said students coming here will "remember Canada fondly when they emerge in positions of influence and leadership" in their country.
Canada should develop its own scholarship and exchange programmes targeted at Indian students and forge research linkages with Indian research institutions, Touhey said.
He said recruiting Indian students will only solidify research, people-to-people, trade, political and cultural linkages between the two countries.
Indian students will now have the added incentive of applying for permanent status while still in Canada, he said.

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