Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why would a foreign university want an Indian campus?

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Foreign universities may be interested in educating Indian citizens, but they'll come here primarily because they see a market here. [Here's an Indian analogy: If IIMs want to set up shop in the Middle East, is it because they feel that it's their mission to educate the citizens of those countries?]

  2. They can use their Indian campus for the 'study abroad' programs for their own UG students. [In the case of IIMs, they can use their foreign campuses as an 'incentive' for their faculty -- by allowing them to spend some time in Dubai and Singapore.]

  3. They may want to be known for their 'Global Campus,' however meaningless that label may be.

  4. Instead of short term 'study abroad' program, the Indian campus may well turn into a destination for 'education tourism.'

If #1 -- the Indian market -- is the reason, I expect the for-profit universities (the University of Phoenix) to be interested, rather than the Harvards and the Stanfords. Even if the latter do come to India, it'll be to offer easy and cheap programs (that nevertheless are in high demand): business, economics, accounting and the like. Humanities are also easy and cheap to set up and run, and they help make the programs appear well-rounded. But, don't expect a program in the sciences or engineering -- except perhaps mathematics and computer science.

Can #2 -- Study Abroad progams -- be a good reason for an Indian campus? Frankly, I don't know. My guess is that American UG students are far more interested in Europe, Japan, Australia. India may be attractive to a few because it's exotic or 'emerging', but let's be realistic. Also, universities don't need their own campus for study abroad programs -- they can do it with a local partner.

#3 -- Global Campus -- should be recognized for what it really is: an empty slogan with perhaps some marketing value. It could, for example, help in getting a better place in THE-QS rank list. But here is the thing: Harvard and Stanford don't need this label; the University of Southeastern Idaho might.

#4 -- education tourism -- could be attractive for cost-conscious students from the US as well as elsewhere, if they can get an MIT degree at a lower cost made possible by the Indian operations. But would MIT want to be in this market?


  1. Unknown said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  2. Pratik Ray said...

    High tuition might be a barrier for many, but I presume if the foreign universities set up shop here, they wouldnt be charging the tuition they do in US.

    Assuming enough folks are able to pay off the tuition, if science and engg programs arent started, how many would be interested in the programs anyway (other than IT)?

    One advantage would be the phoren tag and the desi obsession with everything phoren. Plus, if its Harvard and Stanford, that tag is that much more impressive. If these factors contribute to some of the bright students taking up humanities as opposed to sci & tech, so much the better for it.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Well its like the Fulbright program where the Americans have requested that it be co-financed by Indians (Indian govt. has agreed) so that the number of students can substantially increase. I think the real reason for foreign instis. (more so in the case of elite univs) may be more as possible venues where their students and govt./industry officials can use it for educational and business experience. For Americans who are planning a career for State dept./Foreign service/MNCs/journalism or South-Asian studies these study abroad programs are valuable experience on their CVs.
    I would like to see how far these foreign instis will train Indians to tap into the jobs and skills of American industry. Or even establish the advanced S&T infrastructure as in American univs. As Americans honchos keep saying leadership in S&T is one thing they will not compromise on.

  4. Manoj Prabhakaran said...

    I can think of other reasons why American universities would want to set up campuses in India. But first here's an example: University of Illinois has a research/education program in Singapore. The main incentive for U of I was perhaps the research facilities and that the Singapore government was footing the bill. (I don't know what they charge the students.)

    Here are some arguments off the top of my head:

    * It is arguably the aspiration of every university to teach the best students. Then, if it becomes the case that to train the best students from India you need to come to India, they may seriously consider it.

    * It's normal for universities to want to be recognized as "global leaders" and to try and establish their brand. It makes sense to move fast and get such recognition among the millions of students in India before the other leaders come in.

    * If they can attract the best students and faculty in India, it feeds into a virtuous spiral where they will move up in rankings (back home and around the world), attract more grants and such, get better students and faculty, and so on.

    * Given that industry leaders will be moving into the Indian market (among other places), it will help the Universities to have a presence in India, if they want to work with the industry.

  5. Unknown said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  6. Manoj Prabhakaran said...

    One more thought: while the administration in the US may need to consider themselves just American, the same cannot be said about the international faculty. But for the legal and funding logistics, I think most of the faculty in these universities would consider them as "universities without borders." The above arguments are in that spirit. (But I agree there are legal and funding logistics, and the Universties are often bound to the country/state/community they are required to serve.)

  7. Anonymous said...

    I browsed through some of the univ operating foreign campus. None of them are full fledged universities. They offer only a small collection of courses in management, IT, hoteling, etc. Only MIT singapore seemed to have science and engg.

    I still fail to see what can motivate a good university to set up a foreign campus. I dont find any of the proposed reasons strong enough.

    Some examples have been given where a foreign govt had to pay a huge donation for a western univ to set shop. I think the good univ will demand this, otherwise I dont see what they have to gain from all this work.

    Building a good univ is a lot of hard work that takes time. There are no shortcuts. Sibal thinks that by outsourcing to white men, he will get the results. It is obvious from his actions that he has little faith in Indians and is infatuated with westerners.