Outsourcing university enrolment

Should Canadian universities be investing overseas?

The heads of 15 Canadian universities, currently visiting India, announced new funding for “India specific initiatives” yesterday. The majority of the money, $3.5 million, will go towards bringing Indian students to Canada. The funding for the program will come from McMaster University, Simon Fraser University, The University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Waterloo and The University of Western Ontario.

This announcement comes just a few days after the Ontario government announced that they would be funding new scholarships for international PhD students. Universities will be sharing some of the cost of these scholarships, to the tune of $10 million.

Canadian universities have certainly made recruiting international students a priority, and with Canada’s changing demographics universities will increasingly be relying on international students from countries like India and China (where Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the scholarships) to fill their ranks.

What’s interesting about both the fellowships announced by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada on Tuesday and the Ontario scholarships is how few students will be receiving them. The Ontario program provides for 75 scholarships per year, while the AUCC program only creates 51 awards.

Clearly this is not a reaction to the high price of Canadian university tuition for international students. Instead both these plans seem to be ways to increase Canada’s brand as an education destination in India and China.

And given the financial situation of Canada’s universities, should they be investing millions of dollars in a handful of scholarships for foreigners?