Amity University, an Indian school with a controversial history that includes a campus in London, has withdrawn from plans to open a campus in New York and Massachusetts.
The university is said to have paid around $22 million in September to buy a campus from St. John’s University, the Art Institute of New York City. Amity was also planning to buy the New England Institute of Art near Boston. Both are owned by Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp.
Amity planned to officially take over the Long Island campus in June of 2017. The university already has campuses in London, Singapore, and Dubai. This would have been its first American branch.
The Amity Education Group operates five universities, 17 schools and pre-schools, and over 150 other institutions. Its 10 campuses in India contain over 125,000 students who can study anything from fashion to nanotechnology.
The proposed Boston campus had education officials in Massachusetts worried, reports Maria Thomas of Quartz India.
Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healy said:
“It’s hard to imagine that this outfit from overseas, which has never done any education work here in this country, is well-suited to provide any kind of education to these students.”
“…These students deserve the education and careers that they were promised. They don’t deserve to be treated like a source of income and shunted aside when they are no longer profitable.”
If a college that receives federal funding is scheduled to be sold, their buyers must first gain approval from the state’s government, the US Department of Education, and from an accrediting agency.
In September, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education sent a letter to the New England Institute of Art asking how they would assure that Amity would provide a quality education. According to the Associated Press, they never received a formal response and were not notified that the sale fell through.
The Amity Education Group is run by the non-profit Ritnand Balved Education Foundation, which was created in New Delhi in 1986 by Ashok Chauhan (now it is run by Chauhan’s sons, Aseem and Atul). In 1995, a plastics company in the US sued him for failing to pay $20 million in debts. In 2000, he was charged with fraud in Germany, where he had worked for several decades, but he was never extradited, reports Collin Binkley of the Associated Press.
Amity fought against the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), a private college regulatory body, over its postgraduate business course. In 2005, the AICTE canceled Amity’s license for the course.
Amity University is now recognized as a private institution by the University Grants Commission, a body responsible for maintaining higher education standards in India.
Aseem Chauhan, Amity’s chancellor, said:
“We have a global vision for education, a model of education which allows for student mobility, faculty collaboration, and research collaboration. We believe that the leaders of tomorrow will be those who have perspectives from different parts of the world.”
While there are many American colleges and universities overseas, few foreign schools seek to establish branches in the United States due to costs and higher regulation.
According to Vaibhav Jha, an Amity University student recently committed a heavily-publicized suicide. This August, another student committed suicide after allegedly being harassed by faculty.