Opportunities for Foreign Education Providers in India
By Nick Clark, Editor, WENR
With draft legislation governing the entry of foreign institutions into the Indian education market still awaiting attention from the Indian government, universities wishing to legally offer programs in the country can do so only in partnership with an Indian institution, and with approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)1.
According to an Oct. 27 release from the Government of India’s Press Information Bureau, the AICTE has reported 69 Indian institutions of higher education for offering programs in collaboration with foreign universities without their approval. The press release warns that, “No university other than those established under Section 2(f) or institution declared deemed to be university under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 can award any degrees in India…. Only the AICTE has framed regulations, in the field of technical education, for entry and operation of foreign universities/institutions imparting technical education in India.”
Currently, there are just six foreign institutions with approval from the AICTE to offer their programs in India.
AICTE-approved Indo-Foreign Degree Partnerships
|Name & Address
of the Institution
|Name of the Foreign
|1.|| Institute of Hotel Management (IHM),
Maulana Azad Educational Campus, Rauza Bagh, Aurangabad – 431001, (Maharashtra)
|University of Huddersfield, U.K.||• B.A. (Hons.) in Hotel Management
• BA Culinary Arts
|2.||Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT), P.O. Box No. 66, Faridpur Road, G.T. Karnal Road Side, Panipat – 132 103 (Haryana)||Staffordshire University, U.K.||• B.Eng. (Hons) Computing • B.Eng. (Hons) Computing in Software Engg. Specialisation
• B.Eng. (Hons) Computing in Multimedia Specialisation
Sreenidhi Institute of Science & Technology
Vill. – Yamanampet,
Taluk – Ghatkesar,
Dist. – Rangareddy,
Andhra Pradesh – 501 301
Vaughn College of Aeronautics & Technology, New York, USA
• B.S. Airlines Management
• B.S. Airport Management
• B.S. Electronics Engg. (Avonics option)
IIMT Hotel Management College
O-Pocket, Ganga Nagar,
FAFE South Australia
Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management
Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology
PSP Area, Sector – 22, Rohini, Delhi – 110 085
Auburn University, Albama, USA
• B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
• B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Daly College Business School
Indore – 452 001, MP
Demontfort University, Leicester, UK
1. BA (Hons.) Business Studies Programme
Despite the lack of an overarching regulatory framework governing foreign provision in India, interest remains strong from overseas, and currently available data suggests that foreign institutions are still carving out niches for themselves. With the expansion of the Indian middle class there are literally millions of potential students with an ability to pay tuition fees who may be attracted to programs with connections to Western universities — regardless of where they are being offered.
The problem for Indian students is that degrees from India-based foreign programs are not recognized for public-sector work (with the exception of the programs noted above). According to a government official quoted by the New York Times in March 2007, an estimated 100,000 students have graduated from entirely unaccredited private institutions.
The up side is that India has a flourishing private sector that is less concerned with regulatory frameworks, while interested in students with internationally awarded degrees. However, in the absence of government oversight, concerns over quality should be considered very real.
This is why the language of the draft legislation awaiting government review calls for very strict control over foreign providers. As the language in the bill currently stands, the University Grants Commission would have complete authority over granting and withdrawing university status, based on inspections conducted whenever it saw fit. Foreign universities would also be required to keep a minimum of approximately US$2.5 million (100 million rupees) in an Indian reserve account.
What to Do?
Foreign institutions of higher education that have decided they cannot wait for the Indian government to pass the draft bill, or have decided that the conditions would be too onerous anyway, have sought other means of entering the Indian market.
In 2004, more than 130 foreign providers were estimated to have operations of some description in India2, a majority through “twinning arrangements” with small, mostly unaccredited, private colleges and institutes.
A typical twinning arrangement will require Indian students to undertake the first two years of a program at their home institution, followed by one to two years at the partner institution abroad, which, in most cases, will ultimately award the degree. Joint degree arrangements, where both institutions endorse the credential, are also common. The arrangement is considered a win-win-win situation for all involved. The two institutions involved earn handsome profits, while students earn a foreign degree at significantly less cost than they would if undertaking the full program abroad.
Some foreign institutions also grant Indian institutions the right to deliver their programs (franchise arrangements). Under these types of arrangements, a low-investment, high-return model is typically undertaken, which, for the cautious, should raise red flags.
Profits derived from the tuition fees of the Indian portion of the twinning arrangement (up to 45 times those charged by reputable public universities) are typically shared between the two institutions, while the foreign institution keeps tuition paid for the overseas portion of the program. Instruction in India is generally conducted by faculty members from the home institution, with curriculums designed and provided by the foreign institution.
With no government or agency oversight of these programs, quality control is in the hands of the two partner institutions, which for the awarding institution either means a leap of faith or regular site visits.
Some Case Studies
Some local providers run twinning collaborations with upwards of ten foreign providers. The Haryana-based Ansal Institute of Technology, for example, reports collaborative agreements with Clemson, North Dakota State, Tarleton State (Texas), San Jose State, Eastern Michigan and North Alabama Universities, and New Jersey Institute of Technology in the United States alone. In addition, it has arrangements with four Canadian universities, three Australian universities, one French, and one British university. Affiliated with Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, the Institute was established in 2000 by the Ansal Group, a real estate developer.
In its 2007 focus on American universities in India, the New York Times centered its story on Carnegie Mellon University’s relationship with the Sri Siva Subramaniya Nadar School of Advanced Software Engineering, a small private college located in Chennai affiliated with the Sri Siva Subramaniva College of Engineering. From its website, it appears that the software school offers two masters programs, awarded exclusively by CMU. The full-time programs are 18 months in duration and faculty from both schools select students jointly. The first year of studies is undertaken in Chennai, with courses taught by local faculty members and practicing professionals using Carnegie Mellon courseware. On successful completion of the one-year curriculum, students are awarded a CMU certificate. They then have the option of completing the master’s program with a further six months of study at the Pittsburgh campus of CMU.
According to the article, “the arrangement circumvents most of the usual Indian government restrictions,” although no specific details are given on how those restrictions are circumvented.
The Times report also highlighted Purdue University-Calumet’s joint undergraduate degree program in engineering with Amity University, a private institution established in 2005. Students study for three years in India, then, if they meet admissions criteria, switch to Purdue for their final year.
Given the somewhat opaque and questionable nature of twinning arrangements with regards to quality control, foreign universities concerned about brand dilution have sought other ways of establishing a presence in India, such as through student and faculty exchanges, collaborative research programs and curriculum design.
Research Collaborations, the ‘Cornell Model’
Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has partnerships with five of India’s state agricultural universities, in addition to other Cornell collaborations through other colleges such as the Engineering College’s partnership with IIT Kanpur.
The agreements focus on the exchange of scientific information, cooperative research, and student and faculty exchange. Cornell’s agreement is structured through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, an autonomous government body under the Ministry of Agriculture, and forms part of a program known as the Knowledge Initiative in Agricultural Education, Teaching, Research, Service and Commercial Linkages (KIA). The KIA initiative is a 2005 agreement, signed by the governments of the United Sates and India, designed to re-energize the longstanding tradition of knowledge exchange between the two countries.
Through the Cornell agreement, up to 50 Cornell students taking an international agriculture course visit India each January to tour with Indian agricultural students and faculty, while high-level Indian policymakers, food industry executives and faculty come to Cornell each year through the Agri/Food Business Management Program and the Food Retail Executive Program. Other initiatives include national biotechnology symposia, a Rice-Wheat Consortium and System for Rice Intensification programs, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project, which addresses issues such as pest control, drought and intellectual property technology management in India.
Cornell and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) this year began offering a dual degree program in food science. The graduate program is open to students from both institutions and focuses on global issues related to food processing, technology, marketing and engineering. The program combines a Master of Professional Studies in food science and technology from Cornell with a Master of Technology in food processing and marketing from TNAU. Graduates receive degrees from each university. After six months in the United States, Indian students return to TNAU to finish their degrees
Cornell’s ties with India, which date back a half century, were revisited in 2007 after a weeklong visit by a delegation headed by newly appointed university President, David Skorton. According to quotes from various media reports, Mr. Skorton identified Cornell’s immediate short-term internationalization goals as centering on India. Specifically, the Cornell-India strategy is aimed at building on existing relationships and developing “mutually beneficial partnerships with educational and research institutions,” in addition to reinvigorating alumni affairs. A recent announcement by Indian industrialist and Cornell Alumnus, Ratan Tata, of a US$50 million scholarship donation suggests the trip was, in the latter respect, a success. The Sir Ratan Tata Trust has also helped support Indian students in the agricultural dual degree program highlighted above.
Business School Ties
Columbia Business School started a student exchange program last year with the top-ranking Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Under the agreement, the two institutions have collaborated to write case materials aimed at teaching American students about doing business in India. Columbia is just the latest of a growing list of foreign business schools collaborating with the top-ranking Indian business school.
Those collaborations include a partnership with the Duke Fuqua School of Business in delivery of a Global Leader’s Program, which is conducted in two eight-day sessions: one in Ahmedabad and the other in North Carolina. The Indian business school also offers a double degree in collaboration with France’s top-ranking ESSEC Business School.
In addition, IIM-A recently partnered with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an initiative to fight poverty. The joint research program is looking to develop innovative and competitive models of business aimed at backing micro-entrepreneurs and mobilizing business graduate students interested in developing solutions that fight poverty.
Through the initiative, launched in January of this year, students at the three campuses are developing joint feasibility studies, research papers and case studies focused on business-related solutions to fighting poverty. The work is being conducted in conjunction with private sector firms.
Networks and Campuses
Other universities are focused on building networks and partnerships in anticipation of the passage of the foreign universities bill. Georgia Institute of Technology, in June 2007, signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of the state of Andhra Pradesh to establish a stand-alone branch campus in Hyderabad. Under the agreement, the state would provide a total of 90 acres over two campuses once federal legislation is in place and the university has the necessary approval from the UGC or AICTE. According to June 2007 news reports, officials were hopeful that undergraduate courses in three or four disciplines would begin in 2009. Currently, that date seems hopeful.
The Wharton School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management, in collaboration with the London Business School have, since 2001, been offering business programs targeted at professionals from a stand-alone campus in the city of Hyderabad, under an arrangement with the government of Andhra Pradesh. The Indian School of Business offers a full-time postgraduate program in management, a post-doctoral research fellowship program and executive programs tailored to industry needs. In January of this year, the Financial Times ranked the school’s management program as the among the world’s top 20.
Champlain College, based in Burlington, Vt., runs a satellite campus in Mumbai in coordination with St. Xavier’s Technical Institute. Indian students graduate with a Champlain degree in one of three fields: business, hospitality industry management and software engineering. Unlike the twinning arrangements described above, students complete their entire degree in India. However, in common with the programs above, the degrees are not recognized by the Indian government.
In 2003, the Apollo Group, parent of the University of Phoenix, signed an agreement with KK Modi, a private Indian investment group, to establish a New Delhi campus of Western International University (WIU), a regionally accredited university with extensive online degree offerings. Apollo Group bought WIU in 1995. The New Delhi campus began operations in 2004 and now operates learning centers in Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. It is one of the few foreign-operated universities to set up an independent campus in India. Foundation, undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in the fields of information technology and business management, and they are accredited by the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission.
Outsourcing Online Curriculum Design
In July 2005, five American universities signed an agreement to produce and teach courses and lectures via satellite, in collaboration with a network of Indian universities led by Amrita University, the Indian Space Research Organization and the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology. The American institutions are Carnegie Mellon and Cornell Universities, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and San Diego.
In December 2005, a further 16 U.S. universities signed onto the Indo-US Inter-University Collaborative Initiative in Higher Education and Research (as the agreement is known). The consortium is offering distance education in selected areas — especially space studies and engineering. Participating American institutions, in addition to those noted above, include Harvard and Princeton Universities, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of North Dakota.
Programs are being offered via EduSat, a satellite launched in 2004 for the sole purpose of transmitting distance-education courses. The Indian Institutes of Technology, led by the Bombay campus, will also be using the EduSat network to provide tele-education to students and teachers at their campuses and other engineering colleges across the country. Approximately 50 colleges began receiving satellite-transmitted courses in January of this year.
American universities involved in the project believe it represents an opportunity to develop connections with Indian universities, education authorities and officials, with a view to developing them further when the opportunity presents itself.
Another example of Indo-US curriculum collaboration includes a 2007 agreement signed by California State University, Long Beach to help start American-style, four-year degree programs in education at state-run Lucknow University in northern India. The Southern California institution is helping draft curriculum and train faculty.
Government-Supported Research Collaborations
In a bid to boost the profile of British universities in India, the British Government has made available £12 million (US$ 20 million) through the UK-India Education and Research Initiative to set up 50 new collaborative research projects by 2011, along with 40 new UK-awarded joint programs for 2,000 students in India, to be delivered jointly. Just three programs have so far been accredited by the All India Council for Technical Education (see table above), as required by current government regulations.
The American Government backs the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in agriculture (see above), and various U.S. government agencies (e.g., USAID) sometimes support joint research and development projects, but not much is structured beyond that.
The regulatory environment governing the entry of foreign education providers into the Indian education market remains unclear, and there is little evidence that it will become clearer anytime soon. After three failed attempts at developing a unified strategy, the relevant bill continues to face significant opposition from regulators and certain parties within the governing coalition (most notably the Communist Party). If passed, the bill would, at a minimum, clarify conflicting state and federal regulations.
A positive sign for foreign providers can be found in the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) on higher education which emphasizes a diversification of funding sources for higher education – higher tuition fees, increased efficiency, and private investment. With regards to foreign providers, the NKC recommends that the government “formulate appropriate policies for the entry of foreign institutions into India … while ensuring a level playing field for foreign and domestic institutions within the country.”
Opportunities that currently exist, do so largely outside of a regulatory framework, and as such can be considered somewhat speculative and open to serious concerns with regards to quality control. Rather than focusing on short-term cash-flow and enrollment goals, foreign institutions might be better advised to take a long-term view of their operations in India by developing relationships and networks within academia and government with a view to exploiting them when the regulatory climate becomes more transparent.
1 As defined under AICTE Regulations for Entry and Operation of Foreign Universities / Institutions Imparting Technical Education in India, 2005: www. aicte.ernet.in/ ForeignUniversites/forgin_05.DOC
2 According to research published by Sudhanshu Bhushan of the Higher Education Unit of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration: http://www.nuepa.org/libdoc/e-library/conference/2004sbhushan_fepid.pdf. A discussion of the findings is available at: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/newsletter/Number41/p4_Bhushan.htm