Changes made to make it attractive for foreign universities to enter India.
The government has opened the doors for top foreign universities to set up campuses in the country and award degrees, giving Indian students the opportunity to study in global institutions without leaving home or spending a fortune in dollars.
The human resource development ministry has decided to allow the top 400 institutions to enter via an executive order. It is working on regulations under the University Grants Commission Act to let foreign institutions begin operations without an Indian partner, which is currently a requirement.
The proposed UGC (Establishment & Operation of Campuses of Foreign Educational Institutions) Rules requires that foreign education providers set up the India campuses as not-for-profit companies, that is companies set up under Section 25 of the old Companies Act (Section 8 of the new one). The proposal has the support of the department of industrial policy & promotion (DIPP) and the department of economic affairs (DEA). “The ministry had sought comments and observations of DIPP and DEA on the rules. Both have supported the proposal,” the HRD ministry spokesperson said.
To foreign universities, the move presents an opportunity to tap a country with a population of 1.2 billion. Several foreign universities have been keen to enter India to tap a higher educational market that is worth Rs.46,200 crore and expanding by 18% every year.Till now they had to do so through partnerships.
The Foreign Education Providers’ Bill is still awaiting parliamentary approval. The announcement, which is effectively an executive order, doesn’t need to be approved by Parliament and could see a rush of foreign universities to enter India.
Under the proposed rules, foreign universities can set up campuses in India once they have been notified as ‘foreign education provider’ by UGC. An educational institution wishing to operate in India needs to be in the top 400 in one of three global rankings: the UK-based Times Higher Education Ranking; Quacquarelli Symonds ranking published in UK again; and the China-based Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings.
An HRD ministry official has reportedly said that at least 20 foreign universities—mostly from US, followed by Australia and Canada—have expressed their desire to enter the market.
The degrees awarded by foreign universities in India will be considered foreign degrees and students holding these degrees need to get an equivalence certificate from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), the HRD ministry said in its statement. These universities will also function under the UGC rules.
The profit motive
A foreign university cannot repatriate money that it makes in India. And any university seeking entry to India must be accredited by bodies in its home country. “Quality control is key and we will build the safeguard mechanism with each of the universities,” a second official in the HRD ministry said.
The two HRD ministry officials have said enough changes have been made to make it attractive for foreign universities to enter India. The India campus will function as a branch campus of the parent, rather than as an independent campus. The universities will offer the same degree they are offering in their parent campus. And the ministry has reduced the deposit universities have to maintain with the ministry (and which they will forfeit in case of any violation) from Rs.50 crore to Rs.25 crore.
The official described the ministry’s move as “liberalizing the higher education space the way India economy was liberalized between 1991 and 1993”.