The proposal by Manipal, which already has campuses in Dubai, Nepal, Antigua and Malaysia, reflects a growing trend for institutions from developing countries to launch in other emerging markets – recently referred to by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) as “south to south” campuses. Currently there are 17 branch campuses in China, but only one run by a developing nation.
“We always felt that China is one country where we could make our presence felt if there is an opportunity,” Manipal University Vice-Chancellor K. Ramnarayan told The Hindu.
“We in India have always been looking West. But I think the potential for India and China to work together is tremendous. We have just not tapped the potential. Education could be a good bond to bring India and China together.”
“Education could be a good bond to bring India and China together”
Two potential partners are Tianjin University and Tongji University in Shanghai, which is known for its strong programmes in architecture and technology. Ramnarayn said multi-level collaboration was possible with students, through faculty exchanges or jointly run programmes.
Because courses will be taught in English, the campus could be an option for Western students. “In the future more and more students from North America and Europe will be studying in China,” said Alex Katsomitros, Research Analyst at the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education.
“Most branch campuses in China have Chinese students, but this one being the first all English campus could attract European students as well.”
Manipal is also keen to bring Chinese culture to its home students. University officials met Chinese university heads and government officials in Beijing and Tianjin last week to offer to host the first ever Confucius Institute in India, providing Chinese language courses for Indian students.
The Indian government has so far not allowed Confucius Institutes to operate because of restrictions on autonomous education institutions run by foreign governments. There are more than 300 Confucius Institutes in 100 countries including 70 in the US, and 13 in the UK.
Katsomitros said Manipal’s partnerships would be an interesting forging of soft power between the two countries, which have both been cautious about foreign institutions setting up on home soil. “I would say this is a win-win situation for both of them.”