It could well be the first foreign university to set up a campus and award a foreign degree in India. Some 31 months after officials from the Andhra Pradesh government and the Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech in quick-speak) established contact, the two sides succeeded in hammering out a memorandum of understanding (on June 5). "We need to globalise our education and meet the staffing needs of many of the global corporations that were moving their operations to this region," explains Gary B. Schuster, Provost & Vice President for academic affairs at Georgia Tech. Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy had reason to rejoice considering that Georgia Tech has chosen the state over Karnataka and Maharashtra. "Other than a proactive government, we were satisfied with the infrastructure support and the scope to expand," says Vijay K. Madisetti, Professor, Georgia Tech.
The university is to be allotted 20 acres near Hyderabad and 70 acres in Andhra's port city of Vizag, some 800 km away from the capital. Georgia Tech (a state university that's not-for-profit), which also intends to partner with local universities, will offer Masters and PhD programmes.
Other than that it hopes to undertake joint research programmes with local industry and local universities.
"The operating budget for the campus would be $10-20 million (Rs 41-82 crore) annually," says Madisetti. Perhaps the university is eagerly awaiting some clarity on the conditions under which foreign universities could operate in India. Such guidelines could emerge once the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations, Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) Bill, 2007 is introduced in Parliament, and duly gets debated. For the moment, the university has set in motion the process of seeking approvals from the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) to commence its academic programmes, which local officials expect could begin from early 2009.