SFU’s engagements with India are diverse and distinctive

February 04, 2020

India is the world's largest democracy with a significant economic and geopolitical presence, and a youth population (25 and under) greater than any other country in the world.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that India has overtaken China to become the leading provider of international students to Canada, and that Indian students are the fastest growing population of international students coming to Simon Fraser University.

Over the past decade, SFU has built some extraordinary relationships with partner institutions and organizations in India.

This is no coincidence. SFU was the first university in Canada to form an India Advisory Council and, with its help, to develop an India strategy that has enabled us to form relationships that extend beyond universities and institutes to include business, civil society and cultural organizations.

Last month, Vice-President, Research and International, Joy Johnson and I travelled to India to further strengthen these relationships. We met with senior administrators at IIT Bombay and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, where we discussed significant new opportunities for research collaboration and student exchange.

Our mission also included visits to deepen established partnerships with:

· Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) – with which we promote university-community research and other engagement;

· Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) – which helps to bring Indian scholars to SFU;

· Bombay Stock Exchange Institute (BSEI) – the educational arm of the Exchange with which we partner on programs and, together with Ryerson University, operate Zone Startups India, a leading Indian business accelerator;  

· Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) – which gave birth to Vancouver’s Indian Summer Festival that SFU has supported since its inception 10 years ago.

We also met with Canada’s High Commissioner to India and key consular officials in Delhi and Mumbai to provide updates on SFU’s engagement in India and to discuss future opportunities in the region.

More than anything, the mission reinforced for me the importance of setting clear goals and committing to them when pursing international partnerships.

By making India a priority, and by strategically focusing on a limited set of partners that provide diverse opportunities for meaningful engagement, SFU has developed a unique set of relationships that differentiate us from other universities, and is providing us valuable opportunities for academic, economic and cultural engagement.