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'Foreign universities will need to adapt to Indian sensitivities'

May 18, 2010 10:17 IST

The University of Dayton, which has accepted 87 international students, thus exceeding its internal target by 65 per cent, is planning to enroll more students from India. While the institute is not 'rushing' into setting up a campus in India, it is exploring ways to expand its existing partnerships and create innovative affordable programmes to meet India's needs.

Sundar Kumaraswamy, vice-president for Enrollment Management, University of Dayton, in an interview with Pradipta Mukherjee, says the addition of foreign institutions in India will help provide Indian students more options.

Edited excerpts:

Is the University of Dayton planning to set up a campus in India?
We are exploring all options and will not take any rushed decision at this point. Any decision must allow for long-term success for both India and the University of Dayton.

Do you have any collaboration with Indian institutes?
We have a 3 + 2 joint degree programme with SRM University and exchange programmes with LIBA and PSG. Every year we conduct a national-level competition called 'Mindful Leadership' in collaboration with LIBA where the winners get fully paid trip to USA. We also conducted a national-level competition on 'Greenergy' (Clean and Renewable  Energy) in partnership with PSG, Coimbatore and the winner got full scholarship to do MS-Clean and Renewable Energy, University of Dayton.

What are your specific plans for India?
We would like to continue growing our existing partnerships and create innovative and affordable programmes to meet India's needs. There are nine Indian faculty at the University of Dayton. Recently, Guru Subramanyam was promoted to chair of the electrical and computer engineering department.

Moreover, the number of applications from India in 2009 was 258 for graduates and 14 for under-graduates, whereas in 2010 the figure has touched is 272 for graduates and 20 for under-graduates, and still counting. Scholarships for Indian students range from $7,500 to $13,500 a year. Graduate students also have the facility to apply for teaching or research assistantships.

What challenges do you see foreign varsities facing as India readies itself to welcome them?
Foreign universities will need to adapt to the social, political and cultural sensitivities of India. Considering the diversity that India as a geographical and socio-politico-economical entity poses, every university will have to shape according to the particular region or state they set up their base in. Whether it is about uniforms or curriculum, or facilities, foreign universities will need to take care to tailor themselves but keeping the values and basic character of the particular  institution in place.

What strategies should they adopt to make a success of their stay here?
If a foreign institution enters India only with the ambition to generate revenue, then it will be sorely disappointed. Every effort needs to be made to ensure quality and assure how they will help promote India's educational future. There is a lot of potential in India and universities will have to focus on growing and honing that talent. This will yield results both
socially and financially in the long run. Instead, setting up campuses only to generate revenue without ensuring proper quality will be soon detected by the Indian mind.

Would Indian institutes face competition from foreign universities in India?
It is rather the other way round. Indian institutions are now stretched to capacity. The addition of foreign institutions will help ease the pressure and provide more access and options to Indian students. Besides, students who have now aspired to study in universities abroad will get the same benefits in their own country at much affordable costs. If we can keep the quality at par, then both Indian and foreign universities will grow hand in hand.

Pradipta Mukherjee