25 Sep 2020 19:35 IST

Universities need to adapt culturally to set base abroad

It will need not just academically sound faculty members but also those who are capable of cultural assimilation

With the New Education Policy, NEP 2020, the Indian government is stepping forward to once again crown India as the ‘Vishva Guru’, thus encouraging high performing Indian universities to set up campuses abroad. But, this comes with its own set of complexities as the process of setting up transnational education beyond India is not easy. It has been repeatedly observed that setting up an university or an institute overseas is much more complex than starting any other business in an international market.

We have seen that many institutions from the UK and Australia have opened campuses in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, but the success rates have not been satisfactory. One of the key reasons is that, unlike a multinational business, setting up an institute in a foreign country is much more complicated. Unique regulatory frameworks and high capital costs are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other nuances which have to be critically considered by the institutions that aim to foray into transnational education.

There is a need to bring in serious reforms to facilitate the path of Indian universities which plan to establish their campuses abroad. It is imperative for these universities to adapt themselves to various international markets and maintain their educational strengths worldwide. There also exists a challenge to attract foreign students in these countries as most of the globally top-ranked universities are already present in many countries.

No copy-paste of programmes

Before thinking of going global, it is important to understand the challenges involved. For instance, those at the helm of affairs of the Indian universities should start thinking globally instead of locally. They must realise that their programmes, customer services and related set-ups are now for a different market segment and therefore needs to be modified accordingly. We cannot just copy-paste the same programmes, infrastructure and the thought process while opening a campus abroad.

We have seen many top universities which have not been able to make a mark overseas because their local improvisation was minimal. Also, having a thorough understanding of foreign regulations is important. Indian regulations are already a very complex web. Dealing with another country's higher education regulatory framework would need a lot of professional help as well as patience.

I also believe that it is paramount for the institutions to bring forward not just academically sound faculty members but also those who are capable of cultural assimilation. The faculty must also be trained to adapt themselves to the global environment. It is seen that many a time, Indian communities or organisations are not able to change their culture and adopt that of others, which is of utmost importance in such endeavours. It can be seen that many successful Indian companies, like TCS, running their companies on foreign lands, have shown their worth through an understanding of cultures. With a lot of experiments, they learned and imbibed the local culture which promotes oneness of thoughts and processes, thus contributing to the organisation’s success.

Taking brand value abroad

Industry requirements in every country is different, be it management or agriculture. Hence, it should be studied well before developing the curricula of the concerned academic programme as per the foreign country.

The institutions must also consider presenting Indian education and culture to the world. One must promote and establish distinguished ‘Chairs’ for India-related courses and programmes such as Indology, Indian languages, yoga, arts, music, history and culture for internationalisation of Indian education. This can help to meet global quality standards and attract a greater number of international students. I conclude by saying that institutions have to consider that they are not just taking their brand value to foreign shores, but are also representing India on a global platform. That in itself is a tremendous honour!

(The writer is Additional Director, Lovely Professional University.)