With government grants dipping every year, Punjabi University is now exploring the option of setting up study centres and even campuses in neighbouring Nepal, Canada, and countries in Europe and Africa, from where a large number of students come to India for higher studies anyway. The UK and Canada are particularly of interest for the university due to the high presence of Indian, mostly Punjabi, diaspora there.
The proposal, which got in-principle nod of the university syndicate on Tuesday, is the brainchild of vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh, who has worked as Indian high commissioner (1998-2000) to Mozambique and Swaziland. It was put forth by the dean, academic affairs, AS Chawla, who has experience of teaching in African and European countries. This comes as the university is reeling under financial distress, with a projected loss of Rs 130 crore in a budget of Rs 530 crore for 2016-17.
“The syndicate accepted in-principle the proposal... to open advanced centres in various countries keeping in mind the Indian diaspora,” a university spokesman informed. Moving forward, a committee has now been constituted by the V-C under dean Chawla that would take the matter up with the University Grants Commission (UGC), the foreign ministry and other authorities.
It must be noted here that the UGC has restricted opening of study centres outside the jurisdiction of the university in India; but there is no such restriction for foreign forays.
Some private universities in Punjab, in particular, have been attracting a large number of students from African countries or other less-developed countries from within Asia. “We intend to provide higher studies in their countries,” Chawla said while briefing the syndicate. Ethiopia is one African country in which the university is particularly interested.
V-C Jaspal Singh also noted that Punjabi University’s Centre for Diaspora Studies had completed its report about status of Punjabi diaspora in Britain, while it was now engaged in doing the same for Canada: “These reports would be helpful in deciding on the centres in these countries.”