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New Delhi: Although foreign universities are yet to open independent campuses in India because of regulatory hurdles, some global higher education brands are opening research centres to capture a portion of the growing market of executive education and other research partnership opportunities.

The University of Chicago had opened a centre in Delhi on 29 March. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known Virginia Tech, is opening its centre in May. Harvard Business School has an Indian research centre in Mumbai, and Deakin University, a well-known name from Australia, has a centre in New Delhi.

A couple of foreign institutions are likely to open centres this year as well, an official from the human resource development ministry said on condition of anonymity.

While experts say India is a huge market to be ignored by anybody, including the education sector, universities said brain drain is no more the key focus and to capture the education potential of the market, they cannot operate by just flying in and flying out.

“Virginia Tech believes that India’s growing population and expanding industrial sector is well positioned for high-quality research and graduate education in the areas of science and technology through a model of collaborative research, education and engagement," Guru Ghosh, associate vice-president of international affairs at Virginia Tech, said in an email.

The centre that opens in May will largely be an engineering research centre, Ghosh said. It will bring the best minds from Virginia Tech and from around India to work in a modern, cutting-edge research environment outside Chennai, he said.

Gary Tubb, faculty director at Chicago University’s Delhi centre, said that a centre in India will enhance their engagement in the country. “We expect this to happen over a wide range of activities," Tubb said. “Our faculty members will do projects in collaboration with Indian colleges, research institutes, business entities and government offices." The university will provide some short duration certificate programmes as well.

“India is becoming increasingly important for education and economy," Tubb said. “There is a two-way opportunity here, to learn and to teach."

The higher education landscape in India has changed, according to Ravneet Pahwa, country director India, Deakin University. “Brain drain is no more the way forward. It’s about value addition, research and teaching collaborations," she said. “Any top global institutions looking for serious partnership cannot operate by flying in and flying out. You need a centre and constant engagement."

Sam Pitroda, former head of the Knowledge Commission and adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on public information infrastructure and innovations, said: “They have a need to go global and India is a huge market. It is no more just about staying in America and knowing about America. It is also knowing about India, China, etc."

The trend signifies two points, the potential of the education market and the need to understand the Indian economy which is increasingly becoming global, said Debashis Chatterjee, director at Indian Institute of Management at Kozhikode.

The Indian education market is likely to be worth 5.9 trillion in 2014-15 as against 3.33 trillion in the 2011-12 financial year, according to rating agency India Ratings.

For now, executive education is the way forward for overseas institutions.

Harvard Business School offers customized executive education.

For example, from the end of April, the school is offering an executive education programme called Building a Global Enterprise in India.

Ghosh said Virginia Tech will “offer customized executive courses for Indian companies as well as open admission, short-courses in Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai in the areas of energy, data analytics, information technology and other areas of science, technology, health, management, engineering and mathematics".

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