Foreign Educational Institutions Making Forays in Higher Education System in India
The recent opening of University of Chicago’s center in Delhi (http://www.uchicago.edu/features/uchicago_to_celebrate_opening_of_center_in_delhi/#.U1653eT44v4.facebook) underscores the interest of many international educational institutions in India’s higher education system. Many feel that this center will create new opportunities to attain broader and deeper understanding—through the open and free exchange of ideas and debate—of questions facing the region and the world.
Indian higher education is rich with opportunities but rife with challenges such as upfront barriers viz. requirement of corpus fund of $10 million and non-repatriation of surplus. Thus, several big names like Duke Fuqua, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have all scaled down their ambitions from full-fledged degree campuses to smaller partnerships. Top universities may well establish collaborative arrangement with Indian peer institutions or study/research centres in India, but are unlikely to build full-fledged branch campuses on their own.
International B-Schools are trying to tap the India’s growing executive education space. The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, will also have its own centre in India. Wharton receives about 10,000 executive education participants on its campus every year and India is among the top three countries in terms of participants from outside the US. Wharton joins the likes of University of Chicago, Tuck School of Business, INSEAD, Oxford University’s Said Business School and Duke University, among others, to offer their executive education programmes in India.
India’s higher education needs are significant. The country needs more enrollment capacity at the bottom of the system as well as more places at its small elite sector at the top. The system needs systemic reform. Furthermore, fresh breeze from abroad might help to galvanise local thinking. Thus, India’s decision to finally open its doors to foreign higher education institutions and investment is welcome by many.
India also faces a serious quality problem — given that only a tiny proportion of the higher education sector can meet international standards. Almost all of India’s 480 public universities and more than 25,000 undergraduate colleges are, by international standards, mediocre at best. India’s complex legal arrangements for reserving places in higher education to members of various disadvantaged population groups, often setting aside up to half of the seats for such groups, places further stress on the system.
The foreigners are expected to provide the much needed capacity and new ideas on higher education management, curriculum, teaching methods, and research. It is hoped that they will bring investment. Top-class foreign universities are anticipated to add prestige to India’s postsecondary system.Few branch campuses bring much in the way of academic innovation. Typically, they use tried and true management, curriculum, and teaching methods. The branches frequently have little autonomy from their home university and are, thus, tightly controlled from abroad.