The University of Illinois plans to open an office in India, possibly by the end of the year or the start of the 2015-16 school year.
URBANA — The University of Illinois plans to open an office in India, possibly by the end of the year or the start of the 2015-16 school year.
The university submitted its application for office space with Indian officials last week and, if approved, will begin the search for a small office in New Delhi.
The move comes about six months after the UI opened an office in Shanghai, China, in order to strengthen bonds with graduates, companies and universities there.
"We have had strong academic ties with India for years," said Pradeep Khanna, the UI's associate chancellor for corporate and international relations, who will be in India next week. "They are third in terms of international students and there are a large number of alumni there."
After China, which sent 4,512 students to the UI during the 2013-14 school year and South Korea (1,348), there were 1,018 undergraduate and graduate students from India at the UI, according to the most recent reports.
As of now, the plans are small — the office in the capital city will staff all of one person, most likely a local resident.
The employee can connect interested students with admissions officers in Urbana, but the focus will not be on recruiting as much as handling the university's growing number of partnerships with Indian institutions, such as the College of Engineering in Pune and companies with offices in India, such as Infosys Technologies.
"The purpose is to be able to strengthen our ties and partnerships in India," Khanna said.
The UI has about two dozen agreements with Indian institutions, from Banaras Hindu University to Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute. Many of the research topics focus on agriculture and technology and involve faculty from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the College of Engineering and other academic units in Urbana.
University of Illinois officials, including the president and chancellor, have often visited the country in recent years, signing collaborative research agreements and hosting alumni get-togethers. However, UI-India collaborations go back for decades. In the years following India's independence in 1947, university officials helped the country establish agricultural and technology institutes in higher education, Khanna said.
Ideally, the office would open by the end of the calendar year, he said. If not, then "definitely by summer of next year."