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Foreign Universities in India

Published: 27th May, 2022


  • It was announced in Budget 2022 by Finance Minister announced that “world-class foreign universitiesand institutions would be allowed in the planned business district in Gujarat’s GIFT City”. 
  • It was stated that these institutions would be free from domestic regulations to facilitate availability of high-end human resources.
  • British Prime MinisterBoris Johnson during his visit to India had also wished for strengthening of academic collaboration between the United Kingdom and India.

What provisions of New Education Policy, 2020 are related to establishment of Foreign Universities in India?

  • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 envisions higher education reforms in many areas including the internationalisation of India’s education ecosystem.
  • The NEP 2020 recommends allowing foreign universities ranked in the “top 100” category to operate in India.

Why Foreign Universities want to open branches in India?

  • India is an emergingcentre for higher education.
  • It “exporter” second largest numbers of students all over the world.
  • It also regulates the world’s second largest higher education system.
  • For the above two reasons it is obvious that universities from foreign countries want to establish their branches in India.

Arguments in favour of establishment of the foreign branches in India

  • India’s higher education collaborationwith other countries will increase India’s soft power it will also bring new ideas and institutions from abroad to the shores of India.
  • They would encouragecompetition mainly between existing public and private universities in India and foreign branch institutions.
  • The branches could bring new ideas about curriculum, pedagogy, and governance to Indian higher education and contribute to the country’s academic growth.

Why is the idea of international collaboration in India’s higher education still not executed?

  • There are many regulatory hurdles in India with respect to international academic partnerships, which includes the operation of international branch campuses.
  • It is pertinent to note that before NEP 2020, India did not allow the entry and the operation of foreign university branch campuses.
  • The Finance Minister’s budget speech though marked departurefrom the NEP 2020 recommendations that allow only the “top 100” category to operate in India.
  • The Minister of State for Education replyin the Lok Sabha in March also marked departure from the NEP 2020 recommendations.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC)has formed a committee to draft regulations to allow foreign institutions in the “top 500” category to establish campuses in India.
  • Streamlining of the policy initiative by taking all stakeholders in confidence and avoiding multiplicity of ideas is necessary.
  • There are issues over practicality.
  • Investing up front in Education sector of India by Foreign Universities seems highly unlikely.
  • The global branches would be aimed at making money for the sponsoring university which is not in India’s interests.
  • International collaborations have failed. For example, the Yale University and the National University of Singapore partnership (the Yale-NUS) Collegecame to an end recently.

Way Forward

  • The top universities that are already engaged overseas would require incentives to set up in India. For example, building facilitiesand providing necessary infrastructure.
  • There are smaller but highly regarded universitiesoutside the ‘top 500’ category that might be more interested.
  • Universities around the world that have academic specialisations focusing on India, or that have NRIin senior management positions etc. may be easier to attract for India.
  • India should prevent profit-seekersfrom entering the Indian market. Instead, the foreign institutions having innovative educational ideas and a long-term commitment should be encouraged.
  • The bureaucratic hurdles should be drastically cut to ensure success in attracting branch campuses.
  • A new accreditation mechanism, flexible visa rulesfor foreign students and faculty, and financial incentives to offer programmes should be considered as priority areas.

Q1. What are the potential benefits of allowing foreign universities to operate their campuses in India? What are the associated concerns being expressed by academia in India? Critically examine the issue.

Q2. Discuss how National Education Policy of 2020 aims to overhaul higher education in India.

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