Yale University President Richard Levin launched the Yale India initiative two years ago to boost South Asia studies and attract more researchers and scholars from the region to its sprawling New Haven campus. Yale has already committed $30 million of its own endowment resources and attracted a $5 million gift from Indian entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani to this enterprise, which will expand Yale’s visibility and engagement with India and South Asia through intensified student recruitment efforts, faculty and student exchanges, research partnerships, and leadership education.
Levin who was in India to attend a higher education summit organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, talked to Pooja Prakash in New Delhi about Yale’s growing partnership with India, graduate and under-graduate opportunities at Yale and its generous financial aid policy for international students.
What do you think of the Indian Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s plan of bringing the Foreign Education Provider’s Bill to parliament? If the bill gets through do you think it will be a success?
He has proposed a very ambitious plan to start 14 new comprehensive universities in India and try to take them to a world class level. It’s very ambitious and whether it can succeed will depend to a large part on clearing out the bureaucratic obstacles to reform the education system and I think also on the government’s ability to attract international partners to participate in some of these enterprises.
What will be Yale’s role in this process?
Yale at this point is here to just advice and counsel and also to self-explore how some of the leading American institutions might be helpful in the process. However, we are open to possibilities and we would like to be more engaged with India.
Why should an Ivy League school like yours choose to partner with India?
It's impossible to ignore India as it offers nearly 20% of the world’s population. We are in the business of educating the best and brightest in the world and therefore we want a very visible presence in India so that we can attract great students and great faculty to our campus.
Does Yale offer financial aid to international students on the same basis awarded to US citizens?
Yale has an extremely generous financial aid policy for international students applying for graduate studies. At the masters level students are supported through scholarships and teaching assistantships. Those students who are admitted to undergraduate studies are supported on needs based testing. If you have a family that can’t afford to pay then Yale provides grants to cover tuition and living expenses. We want to be a place that creates opportunities and educates leaders from all walks of life -- regardless of financial background and nationality -- financial aid is our top priority to facilitate students to take advantage of the opportunities Yale offers.
Are candidates accepted to doctoral programs in the Graduate School given full tuition waivers and a stipend for the first four years of study?
Yes, our PhD programs are fully funded throughout the course of study.
At Yale Ms Indra Nooyi is a member of the President’s Council on International Activities. Can you talk a little about what the Council does especially in relation to countries like India and other South Asian countries?
The Council is a group of Yale alumni and friends who are active around world; about half of them live and work in America and half abroad. It meets once a year to advice me on Yale’s international programs. It also works in helping us establish work opportunities and internships for the students, in their companies around the world. Many of the members of the Council also provide financial support for scholarships for international students.
Under the current immigration system many foreign students return home as they are unable to secure work visas. In the process, America is unable to retain some of the best and brightest. What are your thoughts on this reverse brain drain?
I have been a very active spokesperson on this debate. It’s really short sighted of the US Congress to keep such strong restrictions on employment of college graduates who are from abroad. I believe, we are compromising effectiveness of US economic growth by forcing extremely talented people to go back home. Now, of course, it’s extremely good for the developing countries that they are able to attract more people back home but still, I think we will be better as a country if we have much more liberal H1-B visa requirements so that we can keep talented foreigners in our country.