India campus temporarily on hold

Gannon University’s recent attempt to start a campus in India hit a roadblock after the Indian government enforced rules governing foreign university partnerships, barring entry to all but the top 500 globally-ranked universities.

India’s University Grants Commission  approved new regulations in June allowing partnerships to take place between universities in India and only those ranked in the top 500 in the Times Higher Education or Shanghai Jiaotong University world rankings, said Andrew Novobilski, Ph.D., Gannon’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The idea started last year as part of Gannon’s mission to globalize by increasing opportunities for studying abroad and the number of international students and faculty at the university.

Melanie Hatch, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Business, told The Knight last winter that India was being considered as a viable option because it is a democracy with a growing population and a growing need for higher education.

Gannon was also interested in the location because most of its international students were from India, which would have allowed for more international interaction.

“Gannon had actually done a very nice job doing due diligence, exploring the opportunity and finding out where it can best be realized and who were the potential people to work with,” Novobilski said. “And then the Indian government came in and said: ‘We want to take a deep breath,’ which from their perspective makes sense.

“We were all marching along in one direction and now we’re all taking a collective deep breath because the only thing worse than doing nothing, is doing the wrong thing.”

Conor Grey, a junior pre-med/biology major, said he would have loved to have seen the campus become a reality in India.

“I think it would have been a unique experience for Gannon to offer, one I would have loved to participate in if given the opportunity,” Grey said.

In an article on, Daniel Obst, deputy vice president for international partnerships for the Institute of International Education, deplored the lack of opportunity for non-elite colleges.

“We understand the UGC’s interest in assuring the high quality of joint and double-degree programs between Indian universities and their counterparts abroad,” Obst said. “However, limiting such collaborative degree programs to those institutions that appear in the top 500 listed in the Times Higher Ed or Shanghai Jiaotong rankings would restrict students’ access to programs offered by a wide range of excellent institutions worldwide.”

Globalizing campus and forging educational relationships abroad corresponds with the university’s mission to reach out to the world and bring the world to the university as well.

“The whole goal was internationalization and partnerships,” Novobilski said. “I think it is a phenomenal pillar as part of the strategic planning that is going on.”

Despite the unexpected setback, the university’s plan to have a global presence remains fixed.

“We are taking the experience we have from the India opportunity and we are beginning to take a look at where we have got other inroads,” Novobilski said.



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