COIMBATORE: After Pakistan, China has become the only other country to face academic sanctions of sorts in India. In a surprise move that could impact several students, the University Grants Commission has asked varsities not to sign Memoranda of Understanding with Chinese institutions without obtaining prior clearance from Home and External Affairs ministries. The decision, coming ahead of the Modi-Xi informal summit to be held in Chennai, is likely to disrupt several academic collaborations.
Without stating the exact reason, UGC secretary Rajnish Jain’s letter to vice chancellors says a number of Indian varsities have already signed agreements with their Chinese counterparts for student and faculty exchange programmes and for opening of Chinese language centres.
“The Ministry of Human Resource Development has conveyed vide a communication that in addition to other clearances, prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs must be taken by all the academic institutions and universities before signing MoU, agreements, joint declaration of interest, letters of intent or conducting student exchange programmes with Chinese universities or institutions,” the letter stated.
Institutions that have already entered into such agreements must apply for clearance from MHA, and until the ministry gives its approval, no activities should be performed, added the letter. A senior academician opined the development could be linked to the steady rise in the number of Chinese students joining higher education institutions in India. “The government could have factored the possibility of China adapting our research, and taking it to the next level using their resources,” says P Kolandiivel, vice-chancellor of Periyar University. With student exchange programmes also falling under the scanner, several students studying in both countries could be affected, say experts.
What the letter says:
Institutions that already have such collaborations must apply with the MHA for clearance. Further, varsities must not conduct any collaborative activity until MHA gives its nod