By Sparsh Sharma
Christiane Piche, the deputy minister of education, Quebéc province, Canada, was in Mumbai recently, leading a delegation to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University and Université du Québec a Montréal (UQAM), Canada.
The former professor and pro-vice chancellor for research and academic affairs at Université Laval talked about the MoU and future tie-ups between Quebéc and Indian universities.
Tell us more about the SNDT MoU.
CP: While UQAM has a strong department for women studies with a 100 staff, SNDT too is a very strong institution and both have many things in common. So we decided to sign a MoU for large scale programmes on women’s studies as also student and scholar exchanges. The initial process had begun in the year 2008 and finally reached the MoU stage this year. The tie-up signifies a start in cooperation between the two entities, an exchange of professors is what is foreseen at present, after which, student exchanges, joint study programmes are likely to emerge in the course of time. Women’s studies and distance education are the two largest areas of study between the UQAM and SNDT. Given Québec and Canada’s large requirement for trained nurses, the nursing school of SNDT is likely to have more specific courses on nursing for training their students to be employable in the Canadian market.
Can Indian students expect some initiatives from Quebéc?
CP: We plan to encourage more Indian students to come, study and work in Quebéc. The tuition fee in our institutions is lesser compared to rest of North America. We offer 29 annual scholarships to Indian students that are worth CAD250,000. The selected students have to pay the same tuition fee as Quebéc students. More than 100 students apply each year for these scholarships through the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute in Pondicherry. We are also in the process of announcing 9-12 new scholarships for Indian students.
“This is my first trip to India. I am proud of what leading academic institutions in India are doing. There are many common things, good infrastructure and the future looks promising for Quebéc-India university tie-ups.”
20th January 2006: Signing of the first cooperation agreement between Maharashtra and Québec, signed by Vilasrao Deshmukh (then chief minister) and Jean Charest, premier of Québec
31st January 2010: Creation of the first steering committee on cooperation between Québec and Maharashtra
30th January 2012: Creation of the second steering committee on cooperation and signing of the letter of intention on cooperation in health between Québec and Maharashtra, where companies from Québec will have access to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) of the government of Maharashtra.
On the art front, Quebéc has created the first artists’ residence in Mumbai, where artists from Québec will be able to come over for a period of three-six months to work here. Selected Indian artists will go to Québec and work for short periods.
From 600 Indian students in Quebéc in 2010, there are approximately 800 students this year, with 53% doing their masters.