A Canadian business school took an important step toward a truly global orientation on Thursday in agreeing to operate a campus in India, beginning in the fall of 2013. A huge world market exists for a commodity that Canada has in abundance - quality education - but entering that market in a productive way is tricky. York University's Schulich School of Business, of Toronto (and soon Hyderabad), has taken an approach that could produce large, intangible benefits.
Those benefits may not be immediately apparent to the naked eye. After all, Canadian universities are not profit-making institutions. Is the expansion to Hyderabad just ego, empire-building? The university makes a credible case that it is no longer enough simply to offer students a chance to learn from international faculty, as Schulich and other Canadian business schools already do. It is important to have a presence abroad, especially in the emerging economies.
Deszo Horvath, Schulich's dean, put it this way: "The real benefit for Schulich is that we will have a presence, a hub in Asia, the fastest-growing market, and some of the largest economies in the world will be around us. So we will have expertise, knowledge. We will be able to provide students an opportunity to learn about this."
Schulich expansion sounds very corporate - refreshingly so. "Why do corporations go abroad? To make a stronger base at home. To create a larger market. Reduce risk. If North America is declining in demand, we have to be in this part of the world." Dean Horvath also says Canadian companies are too dependent on the United States and not willing enough to venture out to China and India because "Canadian executives have not been trained to deal with a global market."
Mamdouh Shoukri, York's president, suggests another benefit; the graduates of Schulich's Hyderabad campus (drawn not only from India but from around the world) will spread Canada's influence far and wide.
With a young population and a bottomless appetite for educated managers, India needs what Canada has. In return, an Indian developer gives Schulich a $1-a-year, 20-year lease on a new, $25-million campus, and India offers itself as a classroom. A good deal for everyone.
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