Amity varsity purchases college in US, sceptics doubt its role

Amity University is expanding into the US with the purchase of a campus in New York and thinking of buying two more. But the move appears to have not gone down too well as it has drawn opposition from a section of the state officials in Massachusetts who are sceptical about the quality of education it might offer.

Amity University, a system of private colleges based in New Delhi, has always sought to create a global network of schools. Since it was founded in 2003, the chain has opened campuses in India, England, China, South Africa and five other countries.

At overseas campuses, a dozens of US colleges have opened. But few foreign schools have sought to establish branches in the US in part because of the cost and tighter regulation.

Amity, one of the largest colleges in India, paid $22 million last month to buy a Long Island branch of St. John’s University in New York City, which was selling the campus and shifting to a smaller site on Long Island. It plans to open its first US branch at the 170-acre, century-old campus after it gains ownership in June 2017.

The chain also has made a deal to buy the New England Institute of Art, a for-profit college near Boston, and one of its sister schools, the Art Institute of New York City, according to paperwork filed in Massachusetts. The deal would require approval from state education officials.

“We are very, very sceptical about this,” said Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, who is asking the state’s Board of Higher Education to block the sale.

“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.”

Amity hopes a US campus will attract students from abroad who want to gain the prestige that comes with studying in the United States. It also hopes to forge research partnerships with other colleges, and to connect foreign scholars with their counterparts here.

“We have a global vision for education, a model of education which allows for student mobility, faculty collaboration and research collaboration,” one of the largest colleges in India.

“We believe that the leaders of tomorrow will be those who have perspectives from different parts of the world.”

Owned by a non-profit company, the chain offers bachelor’s and graduate degrees in a range of fields, from art to engineering. It enrolls 125,000 students at more than a dozen campuses, and has grown rapidly amid rising demand for higher education in India.