BU Enters Talks for a Campus in India| From Commonwealth | By Art Jahnke
“This is not so much about the needs of India,” says Kapil Sibal, India’s minister of human resource development, “but about preparing the global community to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.” Photo by Kalman Zabarsky
India’s minister of human resource development met last October with Boston University President Robert A. Brown and other University administrators to discuss the possibility of BU’s building at least one campus in India. The visit by Kapil Sibal and his delegation, who also met with administrators at Harvard, Yale, Duke, and Georgetown, represents the first time an Indian minister of state has traveled to the United States seeking partnerships in higher education.
“We are looking at institutions of excellence,” says Sibal. “We would like the best in the world to come to India, and it is in that sense that we would welcome Boston University.” He says that India’s population — vast, young, and eager to learn — presents a great opportunity for U.S. institutions of higher learning.
“India has about 560 million people who are less than twenty-five years of age,” Sibal says. “The number of children going to school is 220 million, and a substantial percentage of those children will have to graduate. So we need educational institutions, and not all of those institutions can be provided by the government.”
Brown says he was very pleased with the course of the discussion. “Minister Sibal’s visit was a wonderful opportunity to hear firsthand about the opportunities and challenges for higher education in India and to brief the minister and his delegation on Boston University programs in research and education,” says Brown. “Our discussions uncovered many synergies between the strengths of Boston University and the opportunities in India. We look forward to exploring these opportunities further in the future.”
According to The Economic Times, an English-language business journal published in India, the Indian government plans to build fourteen “innovation universities” in partnership with U.S. universities. The journal reports that the Indian government is working on legislation that would allow selected universities to maintain ownership of their campuses in India and would prevent foreign schools from entering the market if they fail to win government approval.
Asked about specific educational needs that might be provided by BU, Sibal says international connections are crucial.
“We all have to think globally,” he says. “This is not so much about the needs of India, but about preparing the global community to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.”