Add U.S. to that list.
Amity 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. Amity plans to open its first U.S. 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 skeptical 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 founder president,Ashok Chauhan.
Owned by a nonprofit 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.
“We have a global vision for education, a model of education which allows for student mobility, faculty collaboration and research collaboration,” said Aseem Chauhan, Amity’s chancellor.
Its founder president, Ashok Chauhan, was charged with fraud in the 1990s by authorities in Germany, where he ran a network of companies. He returned to India and was never extradited. A plastics company in the U.S. also sued Chauhan in 1995 for failing to pay $20 million in debts, which led to an ongoing court battle in India. The university is now in the hands of his sons, Aseem Chauhan and Atul Chauhan.
Some in the U.S. say the school is more similar to a for-profit college than a traditional four-year university.
“They are a subsidiary of a conglomerate of companies,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State College and Universities. “This is by no means reassuring, if you ask me.”
Aseem Chauhan counters that Amity has an “excellent and exceptional” track record of student outcomes, although he declined to provide the statistics.
Even if it’s approved, Amity could face a long road before it starts work in the U.S. To begin granting degrees, it would need approval from a U.S. accreditor, often a rigorous process. And to receive federal financial aid for its students, it would have to be screened by the U.S. Department of Education.