‘We’re exploring mutually-beneficial partnerships in India’

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Published: January 11, 2016 12:02:51 AM

Today, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Tata Trusts are holding the “UCLA-Tata Global Forum: Innovating for a Sustainable Energy Future” in New Delhi.

Today, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Tata Trusts are holding the “UCLA-Tata Global Forum: Innovating for a Sustainable Energy Future” in New Delhi. The forum will feature thought leaders from UCLA and India and keynote addresses by Gururaj Deshpande, the Indian American venture capitalist and entrepreneur, and Smriti Zubin Irani, the HRD minister. Gene Block, chancellor, UCLA, who is in India for the inauguration of the forum, says that the goal of the initiative is to bring experts from around the world and discuss solutions to the various problems the world faces. In an interview with Vikram Chaudhary of the Financial Express, he talks about the future of the forum, UCLA’s plans for India, and what are the real problems that Indian students face in the US. Excerpts:

Is the UCLA-Tata Global Forum going to be an annual event?

Yes. The next UCLA-Tata Global Forum is scheduled to be held at the UCLA campus next year. The goal of the forum is to bring experts from around the world and discuss solutions to the various problems the world faces. We will continue with the efforts.

Does UCLA have specific plans for India?

We are continuing to learn what all opportunities we can have in the country, ranging from our interest in technology education to technology development and research.

What are your views on the Indian government’s Foreign Education Providers Bill?

The Bill, as I understand, will allow international universities to set up campuses in India without a local partnership. But our model is slightly different. It is to collaborate with campuses in the country where we want to develop expertise. We are interested in mutually-beneficial partnerships. An example of such a partnership is the Joint Research Institute in Science and Engineering by Peking University and UCLA in Beijing. Among other things, its aim is to promote joint collaborative research, jointly seek research funding from government and private sources, facilitate technology transfer of collaborative research results, jointly train students as future leaders with global perspective, host exchange faculty and students, and facilitate the sharing of teaching materials.

If you set up a similar centre in India in partnership with an Indian university, how will the students benefit?

Right now we are exploring more India-specific models. Benefits can range from students of our partner university getting a chance to study at the UCLA. For example, with the Peking University we have a programme called 3+2, where students complete their three years of undergraduate at the Peking University, and in the fourth year they come to the UCLA, do research, and directly move to a Master’s programme at the UCLA.

Foreign students, specifically from India, are facing immigration-related problems in the US. A number of Indian students were, in fact, deported…

We have an increasing number of international students coming to the UCLA. In fact, since 2009, we have more than doubled the number of international students at our campus. And, to my knowledge, none of them have faced any obstacles. For Indian students who want to study in the US, immigration is not a problem, but the cost is—travel, stay, tuition costs are very high. Scholarships remain the key to costs coming down.

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