Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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SFU’s India Strategy exemplifies our commitment to engage the world

February 04, 2019

Last week, Vice President Research and International Joy Johnson and I were accompanied by Business Dean Ali Dastmalchian, Health Sciences Dean Tania Bubela and others on a ten day mission to strengthen SFU’s academic, cultural and business relationships in India.

During the mission, members of the SFU delegation:

  • advanced a diverse range of educational and research initiatives with leading Indian post-secondary institutions, including IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and SP Jain School of Global Management;
  • explored new research opportunities with the Public Health Foundation of India and National Institute of Health and Family Welfare;
  • extended our commitment to undertake joint research on hydrogen fuel cell and other clean energy technologies with the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC);
  • participated in a workshop co-hosted by India’s University Grants Commission and Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) on the development of a government policy concerning the social responsibility of post-secondary institutions;
  • visited the Jaipur Literature Festival with the Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Indian Summer Festival, of which SFU is the founding sponsor;             
  • met with representatives of the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute (BSEI) to discuss future plans for Zone Startups India (the Mumbai-based business accelerator founded by BSEI, SFU, and Ryerson University) and for joint educational initiatives, including a new pathway program that will enable Indian students to earn credit toward SFU’s Masters of Science in Finance; and
  • attended a reception and dinner at Canada House for SFU partners and friends, plus representatives from other institutions, hosted by Canada’s High Commissioner to India, H. E. Nadir Patel.

This list, while far from comprehensive, demonstrates how extensive our presence in India has become. The first Canadian university to develop an India Strategy, SFU is distinguished by the strength and diversity of our Indian relationships.

On the one hand, we have deep and productive academic partnerships with leading Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and research universities. On the other hand, the openness and nimbleness associated with our commitment to be an “engaged university” has enabled us to forge unique and important relationships with businesses, NGOs and government agencies.

All of this is occurring at a time when India’s significance as a strategic partner for Canada is on the rise. This is particularly so in the realm of education, with India now sending more students to Canada than any other country, including China.

In SFU’s case, India is our fastest growing source of international students. Also, with support from IOC, Asia Pacific Foundation, MITACS and others, we have pioneered new ways to bring Indian doctoral students to SFU, to increase co-op opportunities for SFU students in India, and to create internships in both countries for Indian and Canadian graduate students.

And, thanks to the generosity of the Indian Council on Cultural Relations, Hari and Madhu Varshney and other local benefactors, we have established a program to bring a leading Indian scholar to SFU each year.    

This record of progress did not occur by accident. In addition to our own concerted efforts, SFU’s India Strategy has benefited from strong support over many years from our India Advisory Council, the Canadian government and consular officials, and the provincial government and trade representatives.

To all of these, plus our growing list of Indian partners, I say thank you for helping us to demonstrate that SFU is a university truly committed to “engaging the world.”