University Grants Commission (UGC) releasing draft rules to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India. Education specialists have applauded the UGC’s decision, saying it will improve Indian education standards and lessen student exodus.
The setting up and running of campuses for foreign higher education institutions (FHEIs) in India was the subject of a significant draft regulation that the University Grants Commission (UGC) posted on January 5. Before the gazette notification is published after incorporating helpful suggestions and improvements, feedback has been requested through the end of this month.
In a press conference, UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar declared that, in accordance with the National Educational Policy 2020, the next step in the internationalization of Indian higher education would be granting permission to foreign universities to establish campuses in India. According to NEP 2020, “A legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India” (12.8).
Permission would initially be granted for ten years, with renewal pending the fulfillment of necessary requirements. The freedom to design their own curricula and admissions procedures would be granted to the foreign universities. Online or distance learning would not be allowed; only live, full-time, in-person classes would be allowed. The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) would apply to cross-border money transfers. The draft stipulates that fees should be “reasonable and transparent,” with the underlying assumption that education is a non-profit endeavor.
Kumar made it clear that no foreign university would be allowed to establish an Indian entity or extension without permission from the UGC, as if to allay concerns of those suspicious of external intervention, if not influence. Additionally, the authorized foreign university “shall not offer any programme which jeopardizes the national interest or the standards of higher education” in India. The following is added to the draft: “The operation of FHEIs shall not be in conflict with the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency, or morality. ”.
There would be a limit to two different kinds of foreign universities opening campuses in India. Top 500 universities are included in the first group. However, those who excel in specific subjects or specializations or who are well-known in their fields in their “home jurisdiction” would also be eligible. The foreign institution would be expected to begin establishing their Indian campus and building infrastructure within a two-year timeframe based on the approval of a “Letter of Intent.”.
Additionally, foreign professors hired to teach on Indian campuses would be expected to reside in India rather than just travel there occasionally. In addition, foreign universities will need to make sure that the educational standards at their campuses in India are on par with those at their main campuses. Additionally, there would be measures in place to protect enrolled students in the event that the Indian campus were to be unexpectedly disrupted, discontinued, or closed. In addition to giving UGC the authority to permit FHEIs, the draft regulations also give it the authority to inspect, control, interpret, and terminate FHEIs. These requirements include the submission of an annual report and the maintenance of annual accounts.
Following its announcement on academic collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Educational Institutions on May 2, 2022, the UGC has made a new move. Three options are presented in that notification for university collaboration between Indian and foreign institutions. Let’s start with the “Twinning Programme,” which enables Indian institutions to collaborate with foreign universities. “Joint Degree Programme” is the second option. Here, the foreign and Indian universities will collaborate to create the curricula, but upon successful completion of the program, only one degree will be granted. The third option, known as the “Dual Degree Programme,” will be jointly created and provided by the two institutions, and upon successful completion of the requirements for both programs, two distinct degrees will be awarded. In a recent development, our internationally renowned Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will begin operations abroad under the new name “India International Institute of Technology.”.
All these changes will completely transform and globalize Indian higher education. So, it is necessary to welcome them. The most game-changing of these actions, the establishment of foreign universities’ campuses in India, will require UGC to significantly upgrade its regulatory framework. India offices for a number of top international universities already exist. However, the current sluggish and quasi-governmental bureaucratic structure of UGC may not prove up to the task for the prompt and responsible clearance of “Letters of Intent”.