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India,foreign varsities: degrees of separation

While foreign varsities say a 'robust business model' is key,India is seen as demanding a clean break between business and education.

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi |
October 4, 2013 1:54:01 am

SEVERAL regulations have been proposed by the UPA government through its two terms to get the Ivy League to set up an India campus. Yet,if the academic giants that rule across global rankings are not lured by the prospect of enrolling Indian students apparently thirsting for quality education,the reasons are not so difficult to find.

While India seeks to invite the best of foreign universities to replicate their successful models on its own soil,it is unwilling to cede to them the liberal,creative and supportive groundwork allowed to them back home and that has made them global icons. The fear of the infamous Indian red tape and the not-for-profit business model that the Indian government is proposing are serious spoilsports.

From asking foreign varsities to come up with a corpus worth Rs 25 crore to stipulations that they cannot take their profits back home but have to plough all of it into their India campus,the HRD Ministry has hardly served up an attractive opportunity to those who may be eyeing India.

Add to that the clause that requires each foreign varsity to be accredited by an agency in its home country — University College London has pointed out how this does not work for UK-based varsities that are ‘recognised’ by authorities and not ‘accredited’. Such safeguards that the Ministry of Human Resource and Development has been intent at building in to keep off fly-by-night operators are obviously flawed if they are also viewed as deterrents by genuine and interested parties.

While foreign varsities also say that a ‘robust business model’ is key,India is seen as demanding a clean break between business and education.

That explains why all major foreign varsities prefer to collaborate with Indian institutes,offer joint programmes,leadership training and so on — associations that do not entail big investment but still reach out to a reasonable catchment of young Indian students.

Rather than being hemmed in by Indian rules and regulations,these varsities feel they fare better and in fact also retain exclusivity by just attracting more and more upwardly mobile Indian students to their home campus with better credit schemes and scholarship offers.

To save the day,the government hardly needs more of its usual “regulations” — it just needs fresh thinking and innovative models in tune with global realities.

Anubhuti is an Assistant Editor,based in Delhi

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