Foreign Universities in India: reality or just a mirage
Updated on Mar 2, 2015 - 2:10 p.m. IST by Sudipta Mishra
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With more than 4.1 million tertiary level students enrolled in education programmes outside their country of citizenship, study abroad sector is one of the biggest money grosser industries. Among them, Asian students account for 52%, with the largest number of international students hailing from China, India and Korea. Some of the major reasons of this brain drain are the excellence in academic quality, the prestige factor and the future career prospects attached with the universities of the popular study abroad destinations like the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc.

The lure of foreign education has been so strong that in spite of a wavering economy, the number of international students across the globe has risen instead of going down. But one thing which is noticeable is the emergence of new popular study abroad destinations like Germany, Ireland, Russia, Singapore, Japan, China, etc. As reported by a reputed non-profit organization, there has been consistent decline in the percentage of Indian students in the international students’ pool of the USA since 2009. As India and other developing countries are of high strategic importance for the popular study abroad destinations, the foreign universities have been taking various measures to maintain their international student population.

With the cost of foreign education getting costlier and when the top universities across the world are looking out for newer ventures to attract more and more overseas students, the Indian Government is on its way to enter a new phase of global education in the country. Indian students have always remained one of the most lucrative lots for academic institutions across the world. The reason is their superior intellect. They are prospering globally, but the brain drain is having a negative effect on India. A fewer number of quality education institutions in India is one of the driving forces behind this issue. In order to tackle with the situation, the Ministry of Human Resources is in the process of amending UGC rules through which foreign universities can set up campuses in India and issue foreign degrees.

Since 2010, the Ministry of Human Resources has been trying to pass the Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill. But having been rejected in the Parliament, the ministry has decided to take the UGC route.

Under the proposed rules:

 

 

Foreign Educational Institutions (FEIs) can set up campuses in India once they have been notified as Foreign Education Provider (FEPs) by the UGC.

  • Any FEI which intends to set up a campus in India would do so through an association to be registered as a company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
  • The FEI shall be ranked among the top 400 universities of the world as per the ranking published by Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) or the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
  • All FEIs intending to apply shall be not-for-profit legal entities, which have been in existence for at least 20 years and accredited by an accrediting agency of that country or in the absence of its accreditation in that country, by an internationally accepted system of accreditation.
  • The FEP will offer programmes of study or courses to be of quality comparable to those offered to students in its main campus.
  • Each FEI before being notified as an FEP would be required to maintain a corpus of not less than rupees twenty five crores.

The rules also provide for penalties ranging from rupees fifty lakhs to rupees one crore for FEPs which contravene any provision of these rules or UGC Act, and in some cases will have to forfeit the corpus fund. The degrees awarded by these FEPs would be treated as foreign degrees only and the same shall be subject to the equivalence accorded by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) as per their system.

The step taken by the Indian Government, if proves successful, will be a major breakthrough in the education scenario in the country. The move will especially come as a boon for the larger group of middle-class foreign education aspirants from India, who has been affected hard by the plunging rupee; especially at a time when the middle-class group is at the cusp of a boom of its working-class population and employers are getting picky by the day.

But, how effective will this effort prove? As seen from reactions of top universities across the world like Yale, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford and many such universities, none of them is considering opening campuses in India. Those universities which are interested in opening Indian campuses do not qualify to do so. The regulations referring to the rank of the universities and them being not-for-profit organizations, are posing as major hurdles. This is because most of the top league educational institutions are public-funded and are responsible to their stakeholders putting up financial capital. Also they get better options from other countries, where the host nation supports their foreign campus financially.

Although not interested in setting up campuses in India, students from India still remain an important target for the universities across the world. The recent opening of the University of Chicago Delhi Centre, regional offices of other top universities in India, the collaborations of n-number of global universities with various educational institutes in India, the launch of various executive education programmes and scholarships for Indian students and various such steps prove the point. Even if nothing can be said with surety, these collaborations and linkages raise a hope that the next step by these universities can be towards setting up campuses in India. Some of the foreign universities which currently have campus in India are:

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), USA
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), USA
  • Schulich School of Business, Canada
  • Boston University, USA
  • Middlesex University, UK
  • Duke University, USA
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