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BU Enters Talks for a Campus in India

Indian government officials visit to explore possibilities


“We all have to think globally,” says Kapil Sibal, India’s minister of human resource development. “This is not so much about the needs of India, but about preparing the global community to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

India’s minister of human resource development met on Monday 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 25 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.”

Sushil Vachani, a professor of management in the School of Management and special assistant to the president for the Indian initiative, agreed with the minister’s assessment.

“With its large and growing population and rapidly rising income, India has enormous need for quality education across a broad spectrum of areas,” says Vachani, who was at the meeting. “It is critical for it to partner with high-caliber foreign universities to address this burgeoning demand for education.”

Brown says he is 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 14 “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 21st century.”

Those challenges, Sibal says, include global warming, viruses, and hunger. “To feed the world, we need to collaborate,” he says. “I think the effect of the Green Revolution has petered out. What we need now is an evergreen revolution.”

While at BU, Sibal and the Indian delegation also met with Beverly Brown; Robert Knox (CAS’74, GSM’75), chairman of the Board of Trustees; Karen Antman, dean of the School of Medicine and provost of the Medical Campus; David Campbell, University provost; Jay Halfond, dean of Metropolitan College and chair of the Council for Boston University and the Global Future; Gerald Keusch, a School of Public Health professor of international health, Medical Campus associate dean for global health, and senior advisor to the director of the Center for Global Health and Development; and Douglas Sears, associate provost and assistant to the president.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.


7 Comments on BU Enters Talks for a Campus in India

  • Anonymous on 10.29.2009 at 5:28 am

    It seems that the Minister

    It seems that the Minister from India has come to US just to say to the world that India who was known as world “Guru” is not in position to educate its youth. WE understand that only Government cannot do it, but what about the private sector of India. Is not it questionable that without taking Indian Universities (managed by non government bodies) into confidence and criticizing them for putting a lot of money, efforts and energy to support the government in this big task, the minister is running around the private universities of US with a hope that they will establish a campus in India . In a country where still as per government policy, education sector is “not for profit”, how and why any university from US will come and work not for profit and do the charity to this nation?
    In Chapter XIV, of Hind Swaraj, Mahatma Gandhi wrote; “Those alone who have been affected by Western civilization have become enslaved. We measure the universe by our own miserable foot-rule. When we are slaves, we think that the whole universe is enslaved. Because we are in an abject condition, we think that the whole of India is in that condition.” The minister from India seems to be one of such person as mentioned by Gandhi. Without identifying the strength and weakness of Indian education system, and the actual literacy requirements of the country, first new IITs were opened, admissions were offered without having land, campus or faculty; second new central universities were made again with the same pathetic conditions; now new ‘innovative’ (?) universities are in process.
    WE want world class (?) universities to come to India and open their campus, but what about Indian government universities lacking that zeal to be world class, is it the right way to motivate them or we want that India education system should collapse completely? WE welcome a global learning facility but not begged from other countries.

  • Anonymous on 10.29.2009 at 9:13 am

    What is in it for Boston University?

    While it seems clearly established that “India has enormous need for quality education across a broad spectrum of areas”, this article fails to mention why it would be in the interest of BU to operate a school in India.

    Even if altruism is the motive, BU needs a motive to proceed.
    Was this discussed?

  • Anonymous on 10.29.2009 at 12:35 pm

    “if altruism is the motive, BU needs a motive to proceed. Was this discussed? ” BU will make sure that it makes a profit. Have you checked your tuition bill?

  • Anonymous on 10.29.2009 at 12:47 pm

    will this mean a decrease in the number of international students from India attending BU on this campus?

  • anonymus on 10.29.2009 at 2:14 pm

    It seems that a delegate from India has come over to US for seeking help that we don’t have resources n methods to make good teaching institutes on our own so we need you. I dont know why dese people forget that india has got best of the mind power with institutes like IITs, IIMs n AIIMS. Why do u need outsiders to help u. Why do you want them to help you? Do u think that when she foreign institutes will have a camps here they will have professionals also from here? Most likely no. So when they are going to heir Indian professionals for teaching Indians then why cant we do it on our own?

  • Anonymous on 10.29.2009 at 4:05 pm

    Given the industry research / business partnership connections at BU, it is quite likely that the most attractive part of a deal would be low cost Indian researchers for BU and access to capatilists and grant money for India. It is unlikely that BU can charge a reduced tuition in India without taking away from the Boston enrollment or that Indian nationals would prefer an Indian campus to a Boston campus at similar tuition costs.

    ….. bottom line …..

    I see a possibile benefit to BU of “outsourcing” research partnerships. I see no benefit to BU of “outplacement” of the student population to India.

  • shrikant on 10.30.2009 at 7:42 am

    Does Sibal really know his country and her potential?

    The Indian minister visiting the US in the name of seeking partnerships in higher education appears to have no understanding of his own country and its potential. The vast human resource that he wishes to get educated, honed and trained under US universities lacks access to requisite financial resources to afford higher education at US or the European costs. In such a situation who is going to foot the bill for these students’ education, if the BU or other leading US and European universities make a campus in India? Has it been discussed and settled?
    Another important aspect is what does the minister mean by setting up a campus in India? Does he expect that the BU or other leading universities would be transferring their reputed professors and researchers to the Indian campus for imparting education to the Indian youth? These universities may at best be setting up Indian campuses with requisite non-human resources to match their parent campuses. Can this really help the Indian youth? Isn’t it the ambience and the human resource at these universities that makes them what they are? Then what’s the deal?
    In India, education is the Government’s responsibility. But, they have miserably failed in evolving trully competitive system, barring a few abberations. The politics in India is simply not concerned about the general folk. Those in the power are more concerned with ways to remain in the power. For this they are used to throw up catchy and flashy slogan without an iota of seriousness. This is also one such flashy campaign that is bound to fizzle out. The academic leaders in the US should try to infuse some realistic sense in these visiting leaders so that they could honestly focus on vast infrastructure lying idle at 500-odd Indian universities. Setting up world class institutions is not an overnight game. It takes courage, vision and absolute freedom. BU or other varsities in the US cannot generate their clones in India for the asking. Better the minister be advised to let the Indian universities develop into institutions of reckoning by dedicating themselves to the cause of knowledge and nothing else. There is potential. At least 20 percent of the existing universities may turn into one of the best academic destinations provided those are allowed to flourish and devote their energies on education rather than running around the corrupt political system.

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