Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is expanding its educational programs in Chennai, India. The university's forays with Chennai date back to 2007 when they partnered with a small private college to offer a graduate degree in Engineering. Back then, it was estimated that 160,000 Indians were studying abroad spending $4 Billion annually. Fast forward to 2010 and that estimate has jumped to $7.5 Billion per year spent on foreign institutions abroad. Not a bad 3 year return. Not only are Indians spending their money abroad, but they are also donating it abroad. Just last month, Harvard received a $50 Million donation from the Indian business group, Tata - their largest foreign donation in history.
India's Minister of Education's goal is to increase the rate of higher education enrollment from its current 12.4% to 30% in 2020. With 400,000,000 people in India under the age of 18, that will create a huge need for more institutions. Currently, foreign universities are not allowed to operate independently in India, but legislation which has been in the process to change that for years seems to be gaining ground. That's what universities like CMU, Ohio State University, and Virginia Tech are betting on.
For Pittsburgh, a city that has reformed itself on the basis of "Eds & Meds," a new opportunity to rapidly expand and monetize the education market can only mean good things for the local economy. I'm happy to see CMU at the forefront on this opportunity. Will CMU become the UPMC of education? Will the University of Pittsburgh or our other local universities join the bandwagon? It's hard to think of a better potential investment.