The entry of foreign universities will also introduce an element of competition in the higher education sector, motivating Indian universities to raise their own standards.
It’s no more a dream but a reality now. Foreign universities setting up campuses in India is a step closer to actual realisation with the University Grants Commission (UGC) giving its approval. What would be the offshoot of this paradigm shift in the aftermath of the new National Educational Policy?
A likely off-shoot would be a slowdown in the flight of capital and precious human resources. A fewer number of students might opt to go abroad for higher studies.
The number of Indian students opting for higher education abroad rose from 4.4 lakh in 2016 to 7.7 lakh in 2019; it is set to grow further to roughly 18 lakh by 2024, resulting in higher overseas expenditure on higher education.
The entry of foreign universities will also introduce an element of competition in the higher education sector, motivating Indian universities to raise their own standards. India can emerge as a global hub of higher education, attracting students from different parts of the world. Foreign universities will provide further impetus to the government’s ‘Study in India’ programme that seeks to attract foreign students.
The Central Government had announced its commitment to the entry of foreign universities in the National Education Policy document in July 2020. Now, the University Grants Commission has also given its approval. Courses that have gained a global reputation, new methods of teaching and evaluation, the high standards expected of the faculty and students, the focus on research and innovation, all these aspects augur well for the aspiring young Indians.
UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said foreign universities offering full-time, offline programmes will be granted 10-year-long approvals, the freedom to devise admission processes, fee structures and faculty recruitment, subject to transparency and quality benchmarks. The draft rules also made it contingent on the institution to ensure students are not affected if a particular programme is discontinued, faculty stay in the Indian campus for a reasonable period of time and no programme jeopardises national interest, the sovereignty and integrity of India, security, foreign relations, public order, decency, or morality. Kumar said along with Indian students, foreign students will also be able to study on those campuses. He clarified that universities can opt for their own admission processes.
He said only institutions among the world’s top 500 universities will be allowed to open campuses here. “As they will conduct regular courses, their faculty will also be regular. Teachers will not be able to leave in the middle of a semester. Apart from this, the state and UGC guidelines will have to be followed regarding women’s safety and ragging on campus. They have to implement Indian laws only,” he said.
The UGC chief reiterated that the top foreign universities that will provide education in India, have to ensure that the quality of their education remains the same as that of their main campus. “Students will benefit from this,” he said, adding that the move will boost the New Education Policy, 2020 (NEP). These institutions shall not offer any such study programme which jeopardises the national interest of India or the standards of higher education here. The final norms will be notified by the end of the month after considering feedback from all stakeholders. While these universities will have the freedom to decide their admission criteria and fee structure, the commission has advised keeping the fees “reasonable and transparent”.
The regulatory framework allowing the entry of higher-ranked foreign varsities will provide an international dimension to higher education, enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at affordable cost, and make India an attractive global study destination. On matters related to funds and funding, the cross-border movement of funds will be according to the Foreign Exchange Management Act. “Cross-border movement of funds and maintenance of Foreign Currency Accounts, mode of payments, remittance, repatriation, and sale of proceeds, if any, shall be as per FEMA, 1999. An audit report shall be submitted annually to the commission certifying that the operations of the FHEIs in India are in compliance with the Act and related rules.”
There will be two categories of foreign institutions eligible to apply for setting up their campuses in India—the universities that have secured a position within the top 500 of overall or subject-wise global ranking or a reputed institution in its home jurisdiction.
The UGC shall constitute a standing committee to examine matters related to the setting up and operation of campuses in India. The Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall have the autonomy to recruit faculty and staff from India and abroad as per its recruitment norms. It may decide the qualifications, salary structure, and other conditions of service for appointing faculty and staff. However, the FHEI shall ensure that the qualifications of the faculty appointed shall be at par with the main campus of the country of origin.
The Foreign Higher Educational Institution shall not discontinue any course or programme or close the campus without the Commission’s prior approval. The Commission shall have the right to inspect the campus and its operations at all times to ascertain the infrastructure, academic programmes and overall quality and suitability.
It is learnt that several countries in Europe have expressed interest in setting up their campuses in India. According to a survey by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), eight foreign universities have expressed interest in setting up their international campuses in India. Five of these are US universities and one each from the UK, Australia and Canada. The UGC will write to embassies of all countries and reputed foreign universities to submit their feedback on the draft regulations.
The draft regulations of the UGC on Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India 2023 pave the way for the entry of foreign universities into the groves of higher education in the country. There is also a significant change. In NEP-2020, only the top-100 QS ranking universities could establish their branch campuses in India to provide quality higher education to Indian students who aspire to gain foreign degrees. The UGC draft regulations-2023 have “top 500 foreign universities” and the ranking will be decided by the UGC “from time to time”.
The draft University Grants Commission (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 promises to foster academic collaboration between Indian Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) and Foreign Higher Educational Institutions to offer Twinning, Joint Degree and Dual Degree Programmes.
A regulatory framework allowing the entry of higher-ranked foreign Universities, as envisaged in NEP, 2020, will provide an international dimension to higher education, enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at affordable cost, and make India an attractive The Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall make available the prospectus on its website at least 60 days before the commencement of admissions, including fee structure, refund policy, number of seats in a programme, eligibility qualifications, and admission process.