Central panel to prepare roadmap for Indian universities to set up foreign campuses

The center has formed a 16-member committee, made up of directors of seven IITs and vice chancellors of four central universities, to draw up a roadmap on the question “from different sides” to allow foreign campuses of Indian universities. .

The development follows IIT Delhi’s proposal to open centers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The committee, led by the IIT Council Standing Committee Chair, Dr K Radhakrishnan, has been asked to “submit by March 17 a framework/structure for the opening of campuses abroad by higher education institutions after considering the existing provisions for opening offshore campuses”.

The committee members include Directors of seven IITs – Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Madras, Kanpur, Guwahati, Dhanbad – and the Vice Chancellors of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, University of Hyderabad, and the Director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. His mandate includes drafting the administrative, financial and legal framework of the proposed overseas campuses.

The proposals, including those from IIT Delhi, will be submitted to the committee. Among the highlights of the overseas campuses proposed by IIT Delhi are four-year undergraduate courses, an annual intake of up to 240 students in four branches based on SAT scores, and campuses spread over 100 acres that are close to major cities with good air connections lie.

The leading technical school’s proposal marks the second attempt at expanding abroad. The earlier attempt to establish a research academy in Mauritius under an agreement with the Mauritius Research Council had sparked controversy in 2014 after objections from the then Minister of Human Resources Development, Smriti Irani.


The second attempt of IIT-D

The Centre’s move to set up a committee to draft a roadmap for Indian universities to set up campuses abroad stems from IIT Delhi’s proposal to open campuses in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Earlier, then-HRD minister Smriti Irani had objected to IIT-D’s attempt to establish a research academy in Mauritius.

“The operational security required to isolate the parent institution from its offshore campuses from liability under foreign law” is also part of the Radhakrishnan Commission’s remit.

A senior official from the Ministry of Education said the committee has met once so far where discussions were held about whether the IITs should jointly start one campus abroad or whether each IIT should compete abroad separately.

“And why only IITs? Many other central universities have the necessary expertise to launch off-shore campuses. The committee prepares a roadmap. IIT Delhi is an institution of eminence and has an autonomous decision-making structure. But any proposal involving money, needs the approval of the ministry,” the official added.

According to the structure outlined by IIT-D, the proposed campuses – which will be headed by directors appointed by the chairman of the board of directors of central Delhi – in Saudi Arabia and Egypt will be financially supported by stakeholders in those countries, including their governments, industry or philanthropic donors.

“An alternative model would be to set up the KSA campus [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] as a for-profit company. This would have the advantage of attracting potential investors who can provide the necessary capital to set up the campus. However, IIT Delhi has no experience working with such a model and while it may be willing to explore the possibility, it would not be its priority,” it said in the draft proposal.

In line with the national education policy, the Center had issued guidelines last year allowing leading institutions such as IIT Delhi to open foreign campuses with the prior approval of the Ministry of Education and without objections from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“The campus would admit 60 students in each discipline each year and this would imply 240 students in each cohort and about 1,000 students and 60 faculty members on campus after 4 years,” says the IIT-D proposal. Students will spend their final year of the course on the Delhi campus, it adds.

Of the total faculty members, 60 percent are suggested to be either from Saudi Arabia or from Egypt. The recruitment of teachers, who are expected to spend one semester on the Indian campus every three years, will be conducted by IIT Delhi.

The proposal includes the establishment of “state of the art labs and classrooms”, dormitories, food courts, sports facilities, 150 apartments for teaching and non-teaching staff on a 100-hectare campus “close to a major city with good air links to Delhi.”

“The adjacent city should have good educational and medical facilities to meet the needs of the teaching and scientific staff that would be housed on campus,” it says.

Sajal Jain
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