University’s global expansion should take past failures into account

India has become Carnegie Mellon’s latest target for global expansion. Last week, the university entered into a partnership with the Shiv Nadar Foundation in India that allows undergraduate students to study in India based on a curriculum developed at Carnegie Mellon. Currently, the program is open to students studying mechanical engineering or electrical and computer engineering. The classes will be taught at the SSN College of Engineering in India by faculty trained at Carnegie Mellon.

As with all of Carnegie Mellon’s previous moves at creating a more global campus, this expansion has a number of benefits, and we applaud the university for taking this step. Indian students who normally would not be able to afford a foreign education will be able to receive high-quality education at a more affordable price. On the other hand, students in Pittsburgh who wish to later on work for companies in India or venture into a more global market after graduation will also benefit from interacting with faculty and students in India.

Although the vision that the creators of this program have in mind is great, we fear that it may not be as successful as hoped. The program has ambitious goals — it will start next June with around 10 to 15 students and, by the end of five years, the university wishes to have up to 100 students enrolled in India. According to President Cohon's Aug. 24 campus-wide e-mail, Carnegie Mellon is having trouble finding enough students for its programs in Australia. The same e-mail announced that the CIT degree in Greece will be suspended due to low enrollment. Similar problems could crop up in India, and this would severely limit the usefulness of the program.

A Carnegie Mellon location in India would be extremely useful for students in Pittsburgh as well as those in India, and we hope that the university takes sufficient efforts to attract enough students to the program. The university should learn from its experiences in Australia and Greece, and make sure that enough students want to enroll in the program for it to be sustainable for many years.