Vibrant Gujarat draws global universities from far and wide

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Ahmedabad: The fifth edition of Vibrant Gujarat meet this month may not be just about big bucks. Home to globally-renowned educational institutes like Indian Institute of Management and National Institute of Design, knowledge-hungry Gujarat will draw global universities from far and wide.

US-based Pepperdine Uni-versity, which conferred Ratan Tata with honorary doctorate in law, plans to set up a campus in Gujarat. Pepperdine officials will sign a MoU during the upcoming summit. Besides investments, there will be a large number of cooperation agreements signed between foreign and Gujarat-based universities. In all, about 50 such collaborations would be announced during the summit.

“Economic growth cannot happen without a sound knowledge base. Foreign universities may not bring in big bucks. But the intangible gains would be enormous,” said a senior state bureaucrat. The contribution of foreign universities in its industry responsive skill development program would be significant. “We along with Tata Motors identified and trained around 1,000 youths for the company’s Nano plant in Sanand. Of these, over 800 people are employed by the company,” he said. The industry in Gujarat is likely to gain from the dozen-odd centers of excellence (CoEs) being set up in collaboration with foreign universities. These CoEs may be anchored by an industrial house.

“Among others, University of California, Berkley, will set up a joint center of excellence in energy and environment and University of South Carolina will set up a CoE for public policy and infrastructure development,” said Sunil Parekh, who is helping organize the International Roundtable for Academic Institutions (IRAI) on January 10, as a part of the Vibrant Gujarat summit. About 30 foreign universities will take part in the summit.

Universities from Israel and Taiwan are also expected to explore areas of collaboration. University of California, Los Angeles, will sign a MoU with CEPT University and the state education department for an undisclosed project. And, Tapovan Center for Yoga & Ayurveda in Paris will sign a letter of cooperation with Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, for promotion of yoga, according to sources.

“The universities will not just invest, but also share knowledge. The emphasis will be on teaching, research and innovation and there will be joint research, academic collaborations, student and faculty exchange — all in which foreign universities can have a role,” says a senior bureaucrat.

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