New partnership to strengthen COB’s global perspective

Students at VITToday’s business leaders must learn how to solve complex problems on a global scale.

That means students have to embrace diverse perspectives in order to excel in the global economy.

University of Michigan-Dearborn understands that, so its College of Business (COB) recently forged a partnership with Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) University in India.

Eighteen VIT students who have completed some graduate coursework are expected to arrive in Dearborn in September as part of a program that will earn them two degrees in two years – one from VIT and the other from UM-Dearborn. The international students will stay in Dearborn for eight to 10 months to complete a COB master’s program in business analytics, finance or supply chain management.

“What we want to do is give our students a global perspective,” said COB Dean Raju Balakrishnan. “A lot of schools are incorporating that through study abroad and other foreign trips. Given the demographics of our students, especially at the graduate level, where a lot of them are working professionals, that’s not easily feasible. If we can’t send them abroad, the alternative is to bring the international students here to tremendously enhance the diversity and perspective in the classroom.”

The partnership stems from a relationship Balakrishnan already had with VIT. Soon after accepting the role of COB dean in February, Balakrishnan contacted VIT Vice Chancellor V. Raju. With support from UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little and Provost Catherine Davy, Balakrishnan and Raju coordinated and completed the details of the partnership.

The COB Graduate Programs Office and UM-Dearborn’s Office of International Affairs then played critical roles in fast-tracking the application process to ensure VIT students can start this fall.

The partnership is unique, in that VIT students coming to UM-Dearborn can specialize in areas that show economic growth in India.

“They are coming to the capital of the global automotive industry from a country where the automotive industry is witnessing robust growth,” Raju said. “They are hoping to bring back a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience that will help them in their careers.”

VIT already partners with a number of colleges nationwide, including Princeton University and Purdue University, though Raju said “we value this as one of the best partnership arrangements.”

Raju hopes to expand upon VIT’s business partnership with UM-Dearborn. VIT, a private university, was established as an engineering school, so Raju also is interested in working with UM-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“While the partnership presents excellent opportunities for our students to study, it opens up mutually beneficial and collaborative arrangements to undertake projects in engineering design, manufacturing, management and research,” he said.

Balakrishnan agrees and expects next year’s incoming class of VIT students to increase.

“If the program does what we expect it will do, I suspect the interest will be significant,” he said. “This could be the start of something significant between UM-Dearborn and VIT. It could also be a model that we can use with a lot of other institutions worldwide.”

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