President Cheryl Jensen right after her return abroad. She was in India trying to secure international permits.
President Cheryl Jensen right after her return abroad. She was in India trying to secure international permits.
President Cheryl Jensen right after her return abroad. She was in India trying to secure international permits.

In early February, President Cheryl Jensen returned from a trip to India, where she signed three letters of intent in the hopes of forging international partnerships that will benefit students and teachers locally and internationally.

Jensen signed the letters with the Stallion Institute of International Studies, IILM Institute for Higher Education and Manav Rachna International University as part of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s trade mission to India. The province aims to enhance its relationship with India in various areas including infrastructure, agriculture and education.

“We visited four cities in five days,” said Jensen. “It was a lot of fun and very informative.”

Along with Jensen, representatives from various Ontario colleges, including Seneca, Durham, Northern, Fleming, Fanshawe and Sheridan, joined Wynne on the trip.

“The college sector was well represented,” Jensen said. “We were there to help the Premier show India what kind of resources Ontario has to offer, and what better way to do that than through education?”

On her trip, Jensen was able to tour various schools and speak with both students, teachers and administrators who were interested in building relationships with the college. Since her return, Jensen has spoken with the director of Algonquin’s International Education Centre, Ernest Mulvey, about various opportunities these relationships could bring.

“These deals are still in the early stages,” said Mulvey. “But we’re exploring ways to further co-operate with these fairly new partners.”

Mulvey spoke of a potential “train the trainer” model that would involve sending Algonquin’s staff over to India to work with their staff. The goal would be that they would provide help and insight, but also return with broadened horizons themselves.

According to Manager of International Partnerships and Programs Christine Peachey, signing these deals will bring enormous benefits to students as well.

“The building of pathways will offer students the chance to come here, which gives us exposure to diversity,” Peachey said. “IILM offers summer business programs that would provide our students the chance to go there.”

Various exchange programs will be available, including a program for students who began their studies at the Stallion Institute and would like to finish them here in Ontario. Another idea being explored is a “summer sampler program,” which would allow students from India to visit for one month in July.

Jensen said that these deals will be helpful because they are allowing us to share our values with emerging cultures, but also because they will bring revenue to the college.

“Diversifying revenue generation will make Algonquin more sustainable,” she said.

“It’s very important that Cheryl would travel,” said Mulvey. He says that this visit showed that Algonquin is willing to go the extra mile in building and maintaining these partnerships.

“As a president, there is nothing more effective for building a relationship with another country than actually putting your feet down in that country,” said Jensen. “The time is right for some long-standing partnerships.”