New Delhi, Oct. 28: Top-notch foreign universities are looking to set foot in India to do research but not to open degree programmes, a trend local academics allege is aimed at identifying and luring away Indian talent instead of grooming it.
The latest to join the bandwagon is the University of Chicago. It today announced plans for an “India Centre” in Delhi that will start operating from March and look to start collaborative research programmes with institutions in India and its neighbourhood.
Oxford, Cambridge and Yale have decided to establish similar centres in India while clarifying they don’t plan to open degree campuses in this country even if the government passes legislation allowing them to do so.
Nor are the foreign universities likely to establish laboratories in India — the research will be done in the labs of the local institutions they collaborate with, or at their own labs in their home country. The India centres will function more or less as liaison offices or coordination centres.
University of Chicago president Robert J. Zimmer, asked if the university planned to open a full-fledged campus in India once the government allowed it, said: “No. We have no plans to set up a degree-granting campus in India.”
Oxford University official Clare Woodcock told The Telegraph in an email that the institution did not intend, in the foreseeable future, to offer full degree courses anywhere outside Oxford.
“Research collaborations between Oxford University and India are exceptionally broad and rooted in equal partnership,” Woodcock, acting head of the press and information office at Oxford, said.
“Many of our connections are in the area of scientific research, where, of course, India’s top institutions are extremely strong,” he added.
Noted Indian academic Yashpal alleged the foreign universities were keen to attract talent from India by opening research centres here.
“I can understand why they want to have such centres. They shall get good, competent doctorate and postdoctoral scholars from Indian universities to work on their research projects. They don’t want to groom talent but attract it by providing good opportunities,” he said.
Many Indian researchers would anyway be only too willing to work abroad, where there are better opportunities and conditions, with or without foreign universities opening India centres.
Yashpal’s point, however, is that the collaborative research programmes would help these foreign universities better pinpoint home-grown talent.
He said good universities should ideally focus on developing talent by providing both education and research facilities.
However, being able to acquire, say, an Oxford degree at home may itself prompt a bright Indian student to later seek research or employment pastures abroad.
In any case, Indian law now does not allow foreign institutions to offer academic degrees in the country. A bill introduced in Parliament to enable them to do so has been pending for three years.
The higher education regulator, University Grants Commission, has come up with its own set of proposed rules that will let foreign universities set up campus here. The Union law ministry is examining the suggested regulations.
M.N. Buch, former chairman of the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Gwalior, echoed Yashpal, saying Ivy League universities and other leading campuses abroad were keen on Indian talent.
“It serves their purpose to get good people from India for research. These centres will operate as liaison offices and coordinate with Indian institutions,” Buch said.
He added that reputable universities are generally not keen to set up full-fledged campuses outside their own country. “Only second-rung institutions may be interested in opening overseas campuses.”
Yale University signed an agreement today with the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, to launch the Yale India Leadership programme.
Cambridge University is working in collaboration with Indian institutions on medicine and community health.