MHA nixes Manipal University’s China plans :

Following Union home ministry’s orders, the University Grants Commission ( UGC ) asked the Manipal University to scrap its plans for an academic collaboration involving exchange of students and faculty with the Beijing Institute of Technology, one of the world’s top engineering schools.

The deal, signed earlier this year, also included study tours and research. The ministry was concerned that such a collaboration, particularly exchange of students and faculty, could pose a security threat to India.

Manipal University vice-chancellor Dr K Ramanarayan told TOI : “We’ve been told to scrap the memorandum of understanding with the Chinese institute. We have no issues with it. If the ministry is not comfortable with the collaboration, we’ll comply with it.” The university received the UGC letter earlier this week.

Sources said the ministry’s concern follows complaints that in the garb of sending teachers, China could be sending agents. “It’s so easy to enter India with a visa under the faculty exchange program. All they need to do is to write to the collaborating university in India for visa permission. Since the MoU permits faculty exchange and it involves teachers, often there are no hurdles and the visa is granted easily,” said an industry source.

As per the 2010 UGC rules, whenever joint degrees are given, the universities must get permission from the UGC. But for faculty exchange programs, it’s not mandatory for universities or colleges to seek the permission of the statutory authority. “If it involves Pakistan or China, the concern could be more which is understandable. Security clearance from the home ministry is mandatory while issuing visas to academics from countries such as China, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan for seminars or other academic programs in India,” said the source.

But the industry has taken exception to the move. “It’s ridiculous. To assume that a Chinese professor will be a threat to India is outright silly. It just shows the UGC mindset and the silliness of the Union home ministry. The Beijing Institute of Technology is a prestigious institution. After all, it’s not offering degrees, it’s only for a mutual learning program,” said another industry source.

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