By India Today Web Desk: The UGC unveiled draft regulations on Thursday, paving the way for foreign institutions to establish campuses for the first time in India. These universities will also be able to control the admissions procedure, the cost of attendance, and the repatriation of their cash.
UGC Chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar stated that foreign universities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will need a nod from the UGC to set up their campuses in India.
He noted that foreign universities with campuses in the nation can only offer full-time programmes in offline mode and not online or distance learning.
He added that these institutions shall not offer any study programme that jeopardises the national interest of India or the standards of higher education here and clarified that the initial approval will be for 10 years and will be renewed in the ninth year subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions.
The draft rules for 'Setting up and operating campuses of foreign higher educational institutions in India' were made public by the University Grants Commission (UGC), and the final rules would be released by the end of the month after taking into account comments from all interested parties.
The commission has suggested maintaining the fees "fair and transparent" even if these universities will be free to choose their admission standards and price schedule.
“The new National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 has envisioned that top universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India. For this, 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,” Kumar said.
The legal structure that permits the entry of higher-ranked foreign universities will provide higher education an international component, enabling Indian students to earn foreign degrees at a reasonable price, and promote India as a desirable study destination worldwide, he added.
He stated that the Foreign Exchange Management Act will be followed when it comes to situations involving money and funding.
“Cross-border movement of funds and maintenance of Foreign Currency Accounts, mode of payments, remittance, repatriation, and sale of proceeds, if any, shall be as per FEMA, 1999. An audit report shall be submitted annually to the commission certifying that the operations of the FHEIs in India are in compliance with the Act and related rules," he said.
"The operation of foreign HEIs shall not be contrary to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency, or morality," he added.
There will be two types of foreign institutions that are qualified to apply for opening campuses in India: universities that have achieved a rating in the top 500 globally or by subject, or institutions that are well-regarded in their home country.
"The Commission shall constitute a standing committee to examine matters related to the setting up and operation of campuses of foreign HEIs in India," Kumar said.
"This panel shall assess each application on merits, including the credibility of the educational institutions, the programmes to be offered, their potential to strengthen educational opportunities in India, and the proposed academic infrastructure, and make recommendations thereof," added the UGC chairperson.
The foreign institution will be free to hire faculty and employees from India and other countries in accordance with its hiring standards.
"It shall ensure that the foreign faculty appointed to teach at the Indian campus shall stay at the campus in India for a reasonable period. Foreign varsities will also have to ensure the quality of education imparted at their Indian campuses is on par with their main campus," Kumar said.
According to Kumar, the UGC would write to the embassies of every nation and reputable overseas universities to get their input on the proposed norms.
The draft rules state that foreign higher education institutions (FHEIs) may not promote their programmes in their native countries or in any other countries outside of India by acting as a representative office of the parent entity.
"The FHEIs also need to lay out a plan that in the case of a course or programme disruption or discontinuation or closure of the campuses, what will be the alternative arrangements to safeguard the interests of the affected students, including reallocation to the course or programme," the draft said.
According to the UGC Chairman, a number of European nations have expressed interest in establishing campuses in India. But he avoided mentioning their names.
The National Institute of Education Planning and Administration conducted a poll that revealed eight foreign universities were interested in establishing international campuses in India. One each from the UK, Australia, and Canada, and five are from the United States.
Academics and business professionals held contrasting opinions about the UGC's draught regulations for the establishment and operation of foreign universities in the nation, with some claiming that these institutions won't be able to handle the particular issues facing the Indian educational system.
Abha Dev Habib, a professor at Delhi University, responded to the UGC head's announcement by questioning how the panel, which the NEP-2020 is supposed to demolish, is creating the standards.
"It is only unfortunate that UGC, which is going to be dismantled, is making all the reforms. The very fact that the government does not have the will to discuss them as bills in Parliament is the reason why the government is getting them introduced through the UGC," she said.
"The UPA had tried to bring the Foreign Universities Bill but it was shelved by the Rajya Sabha standing committee around 2012-13 and at that time, the BJP and Left had opposed it. But the BJP is now doing it," she added.
(With inputs from PTI)