By Avinav Sharma
Canada has never been so popular with the Indian students as it stands now. It is all thanks to the great and impactful reforms done by the Government of Canada to make Canada an attractive destination for International Education of 21st century. A fact concreting is that in 2012, for the first time Canada welcomed a record number of international students. A first in history, international students in Canada crossed the number of 100,000.
Students from India are very much interested to pursue their studies in some of the best countries of the world. There is no dearth of talent in India. USA and UK have always been old preferred destinations, but now Canada is slowly making its way to the list of most preferred destinations for the Indian students. Canadian institutions are fast gaining popularity with Indian students. Some of the Canadian universities had long been coming to India since the 90s and been engaging with students and educational institutions. Student exchange, faculty exchange and research collaborations have been part of it.
With the passing time and globalization, more and more Canadian institutions have entered Indian market to search for the best and smartest talent. The engagement of Canadian polytechnics and community colleges is increasing with institution representatives doing recruitment events at various cities of India and entering into alliances with reputed and trusted educational agents. Institutions and education agents are working closely on a common goal of matching the students’ academic interest and their educational pursuits to programs available at the institutions.
The quality of technical and professional education is very high in Canada. Strengthening the interest of Indian students is the low tuition fee structure of the institutions. Lower tuition fees and the high global ranking of Canadian universities are of much interest to Indian students seeing the growing cost of getting quality education in India. Another attractive aspect is the Cooperative Education which most of Indian students are not aware of. Co-op as a term is relatively new to students and at first instance students are not able to understand it. With more and more information coming into Indian market on Canadian education, the Canadian education system and terms are being familiarized but a lot needs to be done in this field. Most of the students choose their program unaware of co-op opportunities and realize that later on. Even the students who choose the co-op are not aware of the real value and benefit of a co-op. They end up not maintaining the required GPA or percentage that will entitle them to be placed into the co-op by the institution.
With educational opportunities and systems differing from province to province in Canada, Indian students find it difficult to map their academic interest and choose an institution that can best cater to their needs. Official website like that of AUCC try to bridge this gap by providing comprehensive information on universities, programs offered and their contact details. Still the information is not reaching in that amount in which it should, primarily because of unawareness among Indian students. The university admission procedures, steps involved, international credential evaluation are highly complex and time consuming as compared to the admission systems of countries like Australia, UK and New Zealand which are fairly very simple and easy to understand. The entering admission requirements are also a bit high and some of good and genuine students are not successful in making to their university of choice because of it. With the presence of different central and state school boards and higher education institutions in India, a student’s academic score can vary and not present a true picture of his capability of successfully completing his intended program in Canada. This one aspect should be taken into consideration by the universities and institutes of Canada.
Research opportunities are tremendous in Canada and with funding opportunities available to deserving students at every step; Indian students are now getting attracted to research master and doctorate degrees in Canada. Numerous choices of specializations and research areas available help Indian students choose the field that they may not have even thought of pursuing. It just does not stop here. The flexibility of Canadian institutions also allows student to come with a completely new field in which he may want to pursue research and the institution fully support the students with their research ideas and makes them available proper resources.
I can say that a lot more is still to be traversed in promoting Canadian education among Indian students and making them understand every bit of it. It has to be a continuous and result oriented process.
Avinav Sharma is the Country Head — Canada of Kangaroo Studies Private Limited, India.