Lancaster University’s Goenka partnership may have hit the rocks

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The future of Lancaster University’s support for the GD Goenka World Institute is uncertain following a report from the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Steve Bradley. The Institute, located in northern India, will continue to be supported by Lancaster University in the immediate future but question marks remain over the University’s long-term support.

The University has been in partnership with the GD Goenka World Institute since 2009. It provides a range of programmes which allow Indian students to study locally for Lancaster University accredited degrees. These degrees cover both undergraduate and postgraduate level and are taught by both Lancaster and Goenka staff. It had been hoped that the relationship with the Goenka Institute would help Lancaster University’s continuing international presence, particularly in India’s rapidly growing market.

The report to the University Council by Bradley has revealed that the University has called into question its ongoing relationship with the Goenka Institute.

Bradley, described by the university as being “at the forefront of implementing the University’s strategy with respect to international development,” released a statement explaining the process of review that the partnership has gone through. He stated: “our relationship with GD Goenka World Institute (GDGWI) has been reviewed through a two-stage process in February and July 2013, with a feedback meeting in November.”

Two key issues have called into question the ongoing relationship between Lancaster and the Goenka Institute. As Bradley’s report explains, the first of these is that the student numbers have “not grown to the extent that the university hoped.” The second relates to the “potential of confusion” between the Lancaster University supported GD Goenka World Institute and the new, separate GD Goenka University.

The report did not, however, state that the relationship would certainly end, acknowledging “the importance of India.” Bradley stated that “it has been agreed to extend the current Memorandum of Agreement by one year to December 2014 in the first instance.”

This will then be followed by a “longer term decision” about the future of the partnership which will depend on “progress relating to recruitment and differentiation.”

Despite the ongoing questions over the long-term future of the relationship between Lancaster and the Goenka Insitute, the University was keen to stress the positives of the association.

In a statement to SCAN, the University stressed that Lancaster “values its relationship with GD Goenka World Institute.” The University also emphasised that GDGWI was not considered a failure in the region, stressing that the University had “been successful in equipping students in India with the skills they need to contribute to India’s growing economy”. She said this had been achieved through an “emphasis on employability”.

The statement also expressed the importance that Lancaster University gives to relationships abroad, stating: “International partnerships, where high quality Lancaster degrees are delivered abroad, are a key component of Lancaster’s global outreach strategy”. The statement said that the University would continue to support the “development of institutions overseas” in order to help “build the capacity of local higher education.”

As well as highlighting the goals of international partnerships, the University’s statement to SCAN explained the methods that the University uses to ensure that they are not wasteful, expressing that they are “constantly under review” in order to “make sure they are delivering the best programmes for students.”

The statement went on to highlight the current support for the GDGWI while the University “review[s] the possibility of extending the degree programmes on offer.” The University pointed out the difficulties of “increasing student numbers in India in a very competitive market.”

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