While the Pallam Raju-led human resource development ministry recently announced that it is set to open doors to top 400 foreign varsities by registering them as companies under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, the move hardly seems to have enthused global academic leaders. Queries sent to top 30 global universities on India’s proposal returned with similar responses — in the negative.
Professor Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, said while it is “an interesting development which marks a growing trend towards trans-national education”, the varsity prefers collaboration over competition. “Our own approach to global partnerships is that there is such quality, excellence and potential in the Indian higher education sector that Cambridge wishes to collaborate rather than compete, to be a partner rather than a rival. We already have multiple research collaborations in place with institutions such as JNU, Public Health Foundation of India, IIT-Bombay and IISC Bangalore. We are looking to increase these and to promote two-way exchanges of students and faculty to mutual benefit,” the VC told The Indian Express in an email.
Like Cambridge, MIT said they preferred partnerships instead. “MIT’s approach to international engagement is based on collaboration and local capacity building, so this policy does not change how we work with our colleagues, friends and alumni in India. Because we prefer the partnership model, we do not establish branch campuses that would operate independently,” vice-president, MIT, Claude Canizares said on the issue.
Yale, on the other hand, has categorically said it has no plans for a physical presence in India. “The only campus on which a student can earn a Yale degree is in New Haven,” George Joseph, director for international relations and leadership programmes at Yale said.
Stanford University also said it has no plans to set up campus anywhere else. “This is an institutional decision and not related to any actions taken by the Indian government,” the university said.
California Institute of Technology and The University of Edinburgh responded similarly.
John Hopkins University said while it had a number of research projects active in India, they have no plans to establish a campus here.
University of Toronto said while the development was “very interesting”, they would wait for more information.
Duke University, which had earlier evinced interest in setting up campus in India, has now backtracked and says it now has no such plans.
The much-debated Foreign Education Providers Bill has gone through UPA I and II without passing muster in Parliament. Not giving up, the HRD ministry has been making efforts over the past few months to find non-legislative routes to facilitate the entry of and collaboration with foreign varsities.