New Delhi, Sept. 12: The University Grants Commission has asked Manipal University to scrap plans for an academic collaboration involving student exchange with a top Chinese institution following security concerns expressed by the home ministry.
The higher education regulator has directed Manipal University to terminate the memorandum of understanding (MoU) the varsity had signed earlier this year with the Beijing Institute of Technology, one of the top engineering schools in China.
The UGC order is binding on the varsity.
The plan included student and faculty exchange, study tours, collaborative academic programmes and research leading to publications.
The Union ministry had said such a collaboration, particularly exchange of students and faculty, could pose a security threat to India, a government source told The Telegraph.
Security clearance from the home ministry is mandatory while issuing visas to academics from countries such as China, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan for seminars or other academic programmes in India. The MoU had been signed with the Beijing institute without obtaining any such clearance, sources said.
The ministry had asked the human resource development (HRD) ministry to examine the MoU and take appropriate action. The HRD ministry forwarded the home ministry’s letter to the UGC.
UGC sources said the commission had issued a letter directing Manipal University, a deemed varsity, to terminate the MoU “since prior approval of the authorities concerned was not taken”.
The regulator also said Manipal University had not taken the commission’s mandatory approval before taking the decision to conduct joint academic programmes.
The university’s director for public relations, Alex Chandy, defended the collaboration plan.
“Conventionally, no permission is required from the government to get into such an understanding with a foreign university as all proposed activities are related to academics and research. Similar agreements have been signed with other international universities and no approval from a ministry was ever needed. Therefore, the MoU follows the same pattern,” he said.
He did not comment on the security concerns of the home ministry.