NEW DELHI: Paving the way for foreign universities to set up and operate their campuses in India with complete autonomy, grant degrees and to decide their admission processes and fee structure, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Wednesday notified the regulations for Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India, 2023.
According to the regulations, “Foreign institutions intending to establish campuses in India should have secured a position within the top 500 in the overall category of global rankings, as decided by the commission from time to time, or should have secured a position within the top 500 in the subject-wise category of global rankings and should possess outstanding expertise in a particular area, as decided by the commission from time to time.
The draft of the UGC (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 was released in January this year.
According to M Jagadesh Kumar, chairperson, UGC, “The regulations aim to facilitate the entry of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions (FHEIs) into India, in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommendations and to provide an international dimension to higher education in India.
“These regulations aim to ensure that the education imparted in the (India) campus is at par with that of the main campus in the country of origin and that its operations comply with the applicable laws and regulations,” UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar said.
The salient features of the regulations include full or partial scholarships may be provided to the students and tuition fee concession is required to be given to Indian students by FHEIs; no online and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode allowed. However, 10% of the lectures can be conducted in online mode; the qualifications awarded under these Regulations shall not need further equivalence from any other authority; two or more than two FHEIs can establish campuses in India, provided they meet the eligibility criteria separately; FHEIs can also open more than one campus; and can collaborate with Indian universities and Indian industries but sharing of infrastructure is not permitted, among others.
Vaidhya subramaniam Sethuraman, vice chancellor, SASTRA Deemed University, Thanjavur, said: “A level playing field shall be created if the administrative, academic and financial autonomy given to foreign universities is also given to the top 100 NIRF Universities in India. It would be better if only PhD programmes are allowed for first five years and later PG and UG programmes for various India-centric progress.”
According to the regulations UGC will be the single window for permitting the establishment of campuses of FHEIs.
The Regulations also give autonomy to recruit faculty and staff as per the criteria of the FHEIs. Qualifications shall be at par with the FHEIs in the country of origin. The international faculty has to stay in India for at least a semester.
The FHEIs should also have their own independent, academic and physical infrastructure to operate their campuses in India. They cannot share the infrastructure of any Indian university.
In their Indian campuses, foreign universities will be allowed to offer study programmes leading to the award of certificates, diplomas, degrees, research and other programmes at the undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral levels.
The guidelines also suggested the FHEIs provide “”fee concession” to students who are Indian citizens.
Earlier in the draft, the time period to make recommendations before the UGC was within 45 days from the date of receipt of the application. It has now been extended to 60 days.
The FHEI will have set up campuses in India within two years from the date of receiving the approval. Meanwhile, the final regulations doesn’t mention that the initial permission will be granted for how many years. On the contrary, the draft had mentioned that “the permission shall be granted initially for a period of ten years.”