Dezso Horvath has high hopes that visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will help spur his long-delayed dream of opening a major university program in India to train MBA students and create a new cadre of Asian business leaders.
Mr. Horvath, dean of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, announced plans five years ago to open a new MBA training centre in Hyderabad, arguing India needs more professional MBA education and has fallen far behind China, which is graduating tens of thousands of MBAs each year from its domestic universities.
But red tape has delayed Mr. Horvath's plans, notably restrictive laws that make it impossible for foreign universities such as York to set up campuses and grant degrees on Indian soil. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh introduced legislation to remove those barriers, but the bill languished, stalled and finally died when his government was defeated last year.
In the interim, Mr. Horvath launched a modified program that he has called Plan B, accepting about 40 Indian students a year in co-operation with the local GMR Business School. The students do their first year of training at a centre in Hyderabad, then move to Toronto for the second year of the MBA program.
Now, despite years of delay, Mr. Horvath is optimistic that Mr. Modi will reintroduce and pass the foreign education providers bill that would allow Schulich to roll out its own, larger MBA program. Mr. Horvath says much of Mr. Modi's electoral support came from the younger generation, and it expects him to deliver on education reform.
"Modi has come on board and is doing a lot of good things, and is signalling very strongly there will be a foreign university act," Mr. Horvath said in a recent interview.
After Mr. Modi's election last year, an official from India's Human Resource Development Ministry reportedly said legal reforms to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India was a legislative priority.
Mr. Horvath says his Plan A would see 180 students from India and other parts of Asia admitted each year to a new university campus in Hyderabad, where they can complete degrees granted by York University.
"Because the government of India doesn't let me deliver the full program, I can only take in Indian students now," he said. "As soon as the foreign university act is done, our intake will increase to about 180 students and we have already designed a large-scale business school."
Mr. Horvath is so optimistic about the reform that Schulich is planning to begin construction on the new, larger building in partnership with Indian infrastructure firm GMR Infrastructure Ltd., which has already partnered with Schulich on its existing smaller facility in Hyderabad for the joint program with GMR Business Schoool. The proposed project will include residence space for 360 students.
"We already broke ground, and all the architectural work is done," Mr. Horvath said. "It will be a global school located in India, with an Indian advisory board advising us how to proceed."
The advisory board includes senior Indian businessman G.M. Rao, who is chairman of the GMR group of companies. GMR has helped launch the MBA program through its charitable foundation, the GMR Varalakshmi Foundation.
Schulich has had a long history in India, offering student exchange programs and previously operating a centre in Mumbai that helped train MBA students in partnership with the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research.