For many Canadians, it is hard to imagine living in a country populated as densely as India. Home to 1.19 billion people, India supports over 15 per cent of the world's population, while only occupying 2.4 per cent of the world's land mass. Not only is this a huge population that is increasing daily, but also with an average age of 25 years, it's a population in need of education. That's where the University of Lethbridge just might be able to help.
Although India already has close to 500 universities, it needs to establish another 1000 universities over the next 10 years, and is looking for international assistance to do so.
In October, a group of 12 government officials representing higher education from the Indian State of Maharashtra visited the U of L as part of an Alberta universities tour arranged by Alberta Advanced Education and Technology. The trip also included stops at the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, NAIT and SAIT.
"The purpose of the tour was to give the Indian representatives a chance to observe and learn how the Alberta higher education system is organized and delivered," says University of Lethbridge Faculty of Management professor, Dr. Sameer Deshpande.
The visit also began the process of developing working relationships with Canadian universities, with the goal of continuing India's commitment to making education more available to their growing population. One way this could be achieved is through partnerships/exchanges with Canadian universities.
"While no official agreement was signed, there is a high possibility for future relations," says Deshpande.
This is not the first time that the U of L has worked with the Indian institutions. U of L students currently majoring in international management have the opportunity to partake in a work-study program in India. There are also Co-op work opportunities for students who are interested in being placed with contacts in India. By establishing closer relations with India, even more international opportunities may be available to U of L students. It would also take the University to an emerging and ever-growing market.
Rajesh Tope, the minister of Higher and Technical Education from the Government of Maharashtra, was impressed with the U of L, its facilities and openness to share its expertise.
"Our visit was excellent. We learned a lot from the University, and I think a lot can come of this visit," says Tope. "I'd like to see the universities in India take immediate initiative to send letters or whatever formalities need to be done from outside to start these collaborative programs."
The University of Lethbridge is working with Alberta Advanced Education and Technology to review potential outcomes from this visit and assess future possibilities.
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