Indian campuses are expanding their global footprint
As India’s education sector booms, it’s beginning to grow also beyond the country’s borders. What started with a couple of colleges in parts of South Asia and the Middle East has become a bank of sought-after institutes ranging from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), which has medical colleges in Nepal and Malaysia and about 2,500 students at its Dubai campus, to the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani Dubai campus and the SP Jain School of Global Management, which currently has students enrolled from over 30 countries.
“Brands like SP Jain, Amity and BITS have been first movers, taking the Indian story abroad and capitalising by roping in foreign students as well as members of the large Indian community settled in the Middle East, South East Asia and such areas,” says Fatima Agarkar, co-founder of education consultancy KA Edu Associates.
For Manipal, the first foreign venture came soon after it was declared a deemed university in 1993. The following year, the King of Nepal invited the institute to set up a medical college, the first private medical school in the country. In 2000, when the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) was being conceptualised, BITS and MAHE were invited to set up campuses there.
“We now know these markets very well. Dubai is a melting pot and we have students at that campus from Gulf countries as well as African nations and even central Asian countries,” says Vinod Bhat, vice-chancellor at MAHE.
Bhat points out that though competition has intensified at DIAC with American and Australian institutes setting up campuses too, MAHE has still been able to hold its ground, with a 4-star rating in a recent Dubai government assessment.
With the recent downturn in the economy of the region, Indian students are also opting for Indian institutes there so that they can continue their education without losing time if their family needs to move back home.
For BITS and SP Jain, their USP has become their focus on their specialisations. “In Dubai, we still offer only engineering and technology courses and this makes us stand out from the crowd,” says Ajit Pratap Singh, dean for academic undergraduate studies at BITS, Pilani.
The SP Jain school, meanwhile, is drawing students with its tri-city model that lets them study in three contrasting cultures (Singapore, Dubai and Sydney, all cities in which they have a campus).
Indian edutech platforms are not far behind when it comes to expanding their footprint, and they’re doing this mainly through collaborations with foreign universities.
The Emeritus Institute of Management, for instance, has, since 2016, been offering online certificate courses and diplomas in collaboration with universities such as the Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, London Business School and Wharton Executive Education, among others. “We are focused on making elements of Ivy League education accessible to students globally,” says Ashwin Damera, founder of the institute. “Many of the courses are in emerging areas such as data science, machine learning and digital innovation.”
Other such platforms include Great Learning, which has tie-ups with Stanford and the University of Texas at Austin; and upGrad, which ventured into exclusive foreign university partnership for the first time in October 2017, with Cambridge Judge Business School.
“Our online programmes have been designed keeping in mind those learners who wanted to study abroad but never stood the chance. We offer an apt blend of hands-on instruction with case studies and projects, as well as access to a unique learning experience with world-renowned faculty.”
In 2019, upGrad partnered with Liverpool John Moores University for an online Masters degree programme, and finalised its partnership with Duke Corporate Education, the executive education arm of Duke University.
“The fact that learners get alumni status bears testimony to the efficacy of our programmes,” says Kumar.