India’s higher education regulator has constituted a committee and will soon finalise rules to allow foreign universities to open campuses in India, months after the Union Budget underlined the intention to liberalize the higher education space.
The University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex higher education regulator, is not just working to open foreign university campuses at the Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) city, a special economic zone, but also on the mainland.
“UGC is working on preparing the regulations to facilitate foreign universities to open their campuses in India. A committee has already been formed by UGC, and their deliberations are in the final stage,” UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar told Moneycontrol on May 16.
We have already been approached by a few foreign institutions to open their campuses in India. This will help bring world-class pedagogy to India. Indian students (at least a section of them) do not have to go abroad for higher studies incurring huge expenditures. It will also reduce a part of the outflow of foreign exchange,Kumar Explained.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech in February had announced that foreign universities will be allowed to operate from GIFT City in Gandhinagar, without having to follow domestic rules. This means the foreign universities won’t be regulated by local education watchdogs like UGC and AICTE, and may likely be allowed to make and repatriate profit.
Kumar said that top foreign universities will be allowed to establish their campuses in GIFT City to offer post-graduate and executive programmes in financial services and technology.
The functioning of these campuses will be free from domestic regulators such as UGC. But UGC will explore the possibility of Indian universities collaborating with these foreign university campuses located in GIFT City, the UGC chairman said.
“This will open new opportunities for Indian universities for collaborative research in emerging areas such as finance and technology. To facilitate such collaborations, UGC will work with Indian universities and provide the necessary assistance,” Kumar explained.
Foreign universities opening campuses will have multiple benefits including liberalization of higher education, better competitiveness, internationalization, and bringing foreign students to India. It may also benefit in a global ranking of Indian institutions. But for all that, execution of the plan is key.
The National Education Policy 2020 has underlined the need for allowing foreign universities in India and allowing local varsities to establish campuses abroad. A formal legislative framework will have to be developed for operationalizing this.
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