More Asian?

It’s a veritable blitz the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has launched in India this month, in an attempt to put Canadian universities higher on the list of options the best Indian students consider when they head off to higher education. Fifteen Canadian university presidents are in India, along with federal science and technology minister Gary Goodyear.

The AUCC is running a blog on the events here. AUCC president Paul Davidson curtain-raised the trip with a Times of India op-ed you can read here. Eight universities banded together to announce a $3.5 million program to ensure that top-tier Indian students who’ve already checked Canadian universities out are encouraged to stay here to continue that education.

Western’s Amit Chakma, who’s not on the India trip but who’s participating in the $3.5 million stay-in-Canada scholarships, tried to explain why Ontario government scholarships for outstanding international students are a good idea. His argument ran smack into the legendary Globe online comment boards. Oh well.

UBC president Stephen Toope gave a speech today that tries to explain to an Indian audience what this delegation is doing over there, and why the country’s students should consider studying here:

“We take intercultural understanding very seriously. As I implied earlier, societies that have promoted cultural understanding and cooperation (India prominent among them) have proved in the past to be the most resilient, the most innovative and the most creative.

“People who live in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding are more comfortable to do their best work. At UBC, we have found that cultural diversity creates an intellectual and social vitality that is itself so valuable that we – as with many other Canadian institutions – now actively work to further diversify our student body, and our faculty.

“Indian students who have already studied in Canada have also reported finding a concentration on critical thinking and problem solving rather than rote learning. We work hard to ensure that our students understand how to think, rather than trying to convince them of what to think.”

If it needs saying, I think this is all an excellent idea.