Why is Canada not the favourite destination for Indian students aspiring for higher education abroad? Canada has found itself weak in branding when competing with the U.S., UK and Australia. Brand Canada suffers as fees for foreign students are very high in this country. Three times the fees when compared to local students. The numbers have been rising but not the percentage of students. About 8-9 % of the foreign students are Indians and the percentage does not seem to be rising. Most of them come from Indian middle class families and find it difficult to meet their expenses. A reduction in fees could possibly be a reason to lure in more as an interim effort to increase the numbers if the government so desires. In fact, educational institutions can make more money by volume if they increase their intake.
China and India make around 37% of the student intake when we consider 2012 estimates. However, the number of Indian students is nearly 48.9% of the Chinese number though approximately 81% higher than Republic of Korea which sent about 7202 students in 2012. The Chinese students’ number stands at 25,342. So, though India stands favourably when compared to other countries but fares poorly in numbers and when compared to the intake of Chinese students then it is both in numbers as well as percentage.
Canada’s federal government would need to play a more active role. Education is a provincial matter with insignificant federal role. Foreign students pump in billions of dollars (approximately $ 8 billion in economy in 2010 and supported 86,000 jobs). The International Education Strategy is aiming at increasing the number to 450,000 by 2022 in an effort to create jobs and stimulate the domestic economy. But how about adding to the stimulus by aiding the intake by some coherent measures that lures students to make Canada the education destination and make the predicted figures a reality.
Canada has to view education as an economic activity and the federal government needs to get involved with the provinces and treat education as a priority if it hopes to regenerate the vigour of trade and income as an offset to education.
Education followed by employment and a profession oriented outlook will secure the attention of students more from India and for that matter from all other countries, as well. Indians going to Canada are apprehensive as often they are forced to leave as they cannot use their education for a career or employment. This has to change. All programs enrolling students from India should have an obligation to assist them in getting meaningful employment on completion of their education. This will assist Canada in getting meaningful influx of serious scholars who will only aid to the economic growth.