Nearly 55 stalls put up by representatives of varsities across the globe, including those in the U,S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Dubai, Russia, Malaysia, Holland, the Philippines, Germany, France and Switzerland

Over 1,000 students, along with their friends and parents, thronged ‘The Hindu Education Plus International Education Fair 2010’ inaugurated here on Friday.

The two-day fair being held at the Taj Coromandel has nearly 55 stalls put up by representatives of universities across the globe, including those in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Dubai, Russia, Malaysia, Holland, the Philippines, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Welcoming participants, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, said as a newspaper, The Hindu had been trying to focus on, among other things, the area of quality and relevant education. It was the newspaper's social responsibility to inform young people of the opportunities available, he said.

Pointing to a “major transformation” in southern India in regard to educational opportunities, he said the overall development was impressive, though with several gaps and a lopsided demand for engineering and engineering-plus education.

“There are also concerns about quality and unevenness of what is on offer, and there is a huge shortage of qualified faculty. So, there is a lot of work to be done here,” Mr. Ram said.

Pointing to changing trends in the era of globalisation, he said: “In the old days, nationalism meant that you wanted your young people to stay home and barriers were erected to people going abroad to study, but that has changed now.”

Bryan Dalton, acting Consul-General, U.S. Consulate-General in Chennai, said such fairs were crucial to help students understand the options and “find the best fit”.

Pointing to an increased emphasis on international education and reasons to value it, he said U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made cooperation in education and development one of the five pillars of newly defined U.S.-India strategic partnership.

Apart from stalls put up by universities and education consultants, the venue also has State Bank of India's stall to exclusively focus on student loan options.

Day two of the fair will also feature a series of workshops. A seminar on U.S. student visas and education counselling will be held from 10.45 a.m. to noon, while a session on Canada will be from noon to 12.45 p.m.

A seminar on education opportunities in the U.K. will be held from 2 p.m. to 2.45 p.m. and one focussing on education opportunities in Holland will be held from 3 p.m. to 3.45. p.m.

Sessions on education in Singapore and Germany will be held at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively. The fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.