Amity plans US campus for 10,000 ‘primarily’ American students

Indian private university adds Long Island to list of global campuses, but faces opposition on Boston plans

October 25, 2016
St John's University campus building

One of India’s biggest private universities, Amity University, aims to host 10,000 students “primarily” from the US at a recently purchased campus near New York, according to its chancellor.

Amity, which adds the US to its list of global campus locations and has plans to establish itself in Australia, has paid a reported $22 million (£18 million) to buy the Long Island campus of private, non-profit St John’s University (above).

The university is also said to be in talks to buy two private institutions in Boston, owned by the for-profit Education Management Corporation.

The proposed Boston sale has drawn opposition from the Massachusetts attorney general, who is reported to be pushing for a block on the deal because of concerns about foreign ownership of an educational institution, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Amity’s campuses in India have a total of more than 100,000 students. It also operates international campuses in locations including London, Singapore, Mauritius, Romania and Dubai.

The university is owned by the non-profit foundation of the AKC Group of Companies, which operates petrochemical, technology and pharmaceutical firms. 

Atul Chauhan, Amity chancellor and AKC chief executive, told Times Higher Education that full-time classes will commence at the Long Island campus in September 2017, with short-term study-abroad programmes offered to existing Amity students in the interim.

He added that the campus will grow to have “about 10,000 students” and that the student body would be “primarily US students with a certain percentage of international students”. 

Mr Chauhan said it was “a very significant…development that an international foundation has taken over such a large and prominently located campus”. 

Amity in India has gained accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which covers California and Hawaii as one of the six regional accreditors in the US, according to the accreditation body’s website.

“We have become the only non-profit university in Asia and among a very small number globally to get US regional accreditation,” Mr Chauhan said. “In my view this is the gold standard of accreditations globally.”

But Kevin Kinser, education policy studies department head at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Education, said of US regional accreditation: “New York State is covered by the Middle States accreditation agency, and Massachusetts is covered by the New England agency. So if Amity wanted to open a campus in either location, they would typically need accreditation by one of those.

“It is possible for an institution to use accreditation in one region to open locations in other regions, but they would have to have and maintain a substantial academic presence in the [accreditor] home region.”

He added that “as far as I know, no foreign institution has received accreditation from a US entity and then tried to use that accreditation to open a campus in the US. So I am unsure what would happen.”

Mr Chauhan said of Amity’s global expansion: “We have just built a £100 million campus in Dubai, which is the largest and best private university campus there. We will be investing similar or more amounts in New York and Australia to establish our universities there.”

Amity has a London campus (where the UK government has allowed it to call itself Amity University [IN] London), but it has been searching for a larger site capable of accommodating 5,000 students.

“We are patient and are not giving up on the UK,” said Mr Chauhan.

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