The University of Illinois is going international by planning to open two offices in Shanghai, China, and New Delhi, India, as well as a possible office in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Associate Chancellor Pradeep Khanna started working on the project about six months ago. He said he believes there are a number of benefits that can come from opening international offices.
“We are trying to strengthen our ability to pursue our core mission, which is research, teaching and public engagement,” Khanna said. “With the world becoming so interconnected, it’s important for us to be fully engaged with our international partners.”
International partners referenced by Khanna include universities, companies and chambers of commerce, as well as education organizations in these countries, such as national labs and ministries of education.
Khanna said these offices will have one to two employees in each office.
The University is conducting an open job search for the New Delhi office, but the office head will be a resident of India and, ideally, a University alum. Khanna said the cost to the University for this office is “relatively cheap.”
“We are getting free space and free infrastructure support,” he said. “That is coming from our partner in India. … We just started with some training programs for people in India, and they are expecting that they will be able to generate enough additional activity to cover these costs.”
Chancellor Phyllis Wise said she sees these offices as an opportunity to strengthen the ties the University has with these countries.
“The main reason why we would open an office is to enhance the collaboration between faculty, between faculty and businesses, between universities and universities, and between students and students,” Wise said.
Mark Wolters, visiting assistant professor in the college of business, said he believes there will be a number of benefits for the University and for students on campus and abroad once these international offices open.
“A lot of students come from China, India and Brazil, so it’s good to have that connection there, and it also helps build a reputation and shows a commitment to these countries that says, ‘Look, we’re not just taking in Chinese students, we’re putting offices here because we want to develop our relationships with China and the Chinese business community,’” Wolters said.
Wolters also said Shanghai, New Delhi and Sao Paolo are economic hubs of their countries, and the University wants to be at the source of new growth in the world economy in these countries.
“Illinois has the 24th most respected reputation, which is higher than the London School of Economics,” Wolters said. “Sometimes it seems like Illinois has a better reputation outside the U.S. than inside the US, and for us to continue, that’s one of the things we do, we make those steps.”
One of those steps is making connections with these countries. Khanna listed a number of benefits gained from having University representatives in these countries. He said these representatives will be a resource to the campus community in helping to establish international partnerships, creating new study abroad programs and supporting our students when they are abroad.
“For us to be really successful in pursuing our mission, we have to be fully engaged with the best institutions internationally, and these offices are a tool for achieving that,” Khanna said.