Education institutions on foreign ‘collaboration spree’
Education institutions on foreign ‘collaboration spree’

Hyderabad: Higher educational institutions in two Telugu States seem to have caught foreign collaboration bug. At the same time, neither the two governments nor the heads of the institutions have factored in consequences that arises out of such collaborations, according to observers. 

According to sources, those in charge of higher educational institutions teaching professional courses like agriculture, veterinary sciences and forestry in Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh are on a collaboration spree for a few years. The heads of the institutions are entering into agreements with one or the other foreign university for “capacity building, teaching, research and training. 
Against this backdrop of frenetic efforts, observers point to absence of legal mechanism to vet the memoranda of understanding signed with the foreign universities. Speaking to The Hans India, a senior official said the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) had earlier entered into about 15 agreements with various universities, including foreign ones. 

But, none of them had been vetted from the point of view of legal sanctity. Similarly, Sri Venkateswara Veterinary Sciences University (SVU) in Tirupati earlier entered into a tripartite mission with the Pennsylvania University and JK Trust, to increase the population of cows by using the vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure. 

All these are happening right under the nose of the State Biodiversity Boards of Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh. "Except one or two having an elementary understanding, none of the vice-chancellors of the State universities and other higher educational institutions are aware of the regulations which mandate them to comply with the Biodiversity Act and its regulations," he added.

Clarifying more on this, another official from the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University (PJTSAU) said, "Most of the agreements related to exchange programmes between the university and foreign universalities, for faculty and students exchange programmes, and capacity building." 

This, in turn, helps the university improve its profile, ratings to advance its interests in accessing funds and to take up new areas of study and research, he pointed out. When contacted the PJTSAU Vice-Chancellor Prof V Praveen Rao dismissed the fears and said, "The prominent Cornell University has entered into a MoU with the Government of India. 

Following an advisory from the Indian Council of Agriculture University (ICAR), we have entered into collaboration with Cornell University under the Umbrella Agreement entered into by GoI," he added.

Further, whenever a genetic metrical has been imported for the purpose of research by the university first it has to be cleared by the quarantine cell located at the airports in India, he said.

This, officials from the SBB said, "There is lack of understanding about the stringent regulations in force." To resolve the shortcomings, it is necessary to create awareness among the teachers and scientists in the State universities and every university should have a legal verification cell to check compliances, he said. 

By V R C Phaniharan