It is aiming to become the first Indian university to do so

Karnataka-based Manipal University has signed agreements with two Chinese universities to take forward the process of exchange of faculty and students. It is a step towards its long-term plan of opening the first ever campus of an Indian university in China.

The university on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shanghai’s Tongji University, a day after it signed a similar agreement with Tianjin University. Officials described the MoUs as the first of its kind between Indian and Chinese universities, which would enable a deep level of academic engagement that is so far absent between the two countries.

“The MoUs are for mutual, comprehensive partnerships in the areas of student exchange, faculty exchange, joint degrees, twinning programmes, and the exchange of research scholars and postdoctoral fellows,” said Vice-Chancellor K. Ramnarayan.

Once the MoUs are taken forward, students from Manipal will be able to spend terms in the Chinese universities for which they will receive course credit; the Chinese universities’ students will also be able to do the same.

“Eventually we would like to see free creative flows both ways, as we have between India and the United States,” Dr. Ramnarayan said. “For some reason, we have ignored the potential of China, and that is something we want to tap.”

Tongji University is known for its strong architecture programme, while Tianjin’s engineering department is widely recognised for its high quality. Manipal would likely focus on taking forward exchanges in these two fields.

The agreements signal Manipal University’s first entry into China’s booming education sector. As The Hindu first reported in June, the university is in talks with Chinese officials to open the first campus of an Indian university in China, likely to be located in Tianjin or Shanghai.

Manipal already operates campuses in Dubai, Nepal, Antigua and Malaysia. The university, Dr. Ramnarayan said, was also keen to bring Chinese students to India, with an increasing number pursuing higher-studies overseas. China was beginning to recognise the qualities of Indian universities, particularly in Information Technology.

“The point we are making is that from China’s point of view, four students can go to India for the cost of one student going to the U.S. or Europe,” he said.