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‘Everybody is looking to globalise their product’

Morton Schapiro, president of America’s Northwestern University, is on his first visit to India, one that comes soon after the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill has been cleared by cabinet. Excerpts from an interview with Aparna Kalra. See video

india Updated: Mar 24, 2010 01:54 IST
Aparna Kalra

Morton Schapiro, president of America’s Northwestern University, is on his first visit to India, one that comes soon after the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill has been cleared by cabinet. The bill allows foreign universities to set-up campuses. Schapiro met human resources minister Kapil Sibal, who oversees education, during this visit; the meeting was scheduled for Tuesday after the interview with Mint. Excerpts: See video

How hopeful are you about this bill?
Well, we’ll see what happens with Parliament. But as a university president in the U.S., I think it is pretty exciting.

Why is it exciting — it has provisions of a corpus fund that universities have to deposit, they cannot reptriate profits. Aren’t endowments down in US?
Oh, they are way down. But there’s been a rebound. Most of our peer institutions lost 25% of their corpus of endowment in the market debacle in the last two years and I think we have got 10% of it back. I think what is exciting is that everyone is looking to globalise. I think this might be an interesting move for India. A lot of other countries already have those kind of provisionsYou mentioned the restriction on being able to repatriate capital. If you are looking to globalise and provide international experiences for your students, if its a not-for-profit (college) the restriction on reptriation are not all that binding.

You mentioned the restriction on being able to repatriate capital. If you are looking to globalise and provide international experiences for your students, if its a not-for-profit (college) the restriction on reptriation are not all that binding. Will you look for partners?
I have only been president of Northwestern for about seven months. The previous president, Henry Bienen, was president for 14 and half years and he was the inspiration behind creating NUQ, the campus in Qatar. He is still very connected here. I’m meeting a number of his friends.

You mentioned the Qatar campus. Have we lost out to competing locations?
I think there are a lot of students out there. There is enormous under-enrolment worldwide in higher education. The economics literature to which I have contributed myself indicate the rate of return on higher education investments is very high and also their contribution to economic growth. I don’t think there is so much a first mover or someone gets in to the exclusion of everyone else. I think there is an enormous underserved market.