The Beginning of a Harmonious Educational Era

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”- Rabindranath Tagore

The desire to study at a renowned International university would be possible in India. For the first time, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has released an important draft regulation on the ‘Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions (FHEIs) in India’ and invited feedback from stakeholders. Despite the national and international geographical divisions, indeed, this would be an excellent move towards the harmony of the global education system. Though, it was envisaged in the National Education Policy, 2020. 

According to the UGC's draft, a foreign university among the top 500 global rankings or a foreign educational institution of repute in its home jurisdiction is allowed to apply to the UGC to establish a campus in India. The campus would have the independence to develop its admission process, fee structure, and criteria to admit domestic and foreign students. The draft reads, the fee should be " reasonable and transparent". The flexibility to recruit faculty and staff from India and abroad would certainly give a big opportunity for the students. However, the universities and colleges are not allowed to “offer any such programme of study which jeopardizes the national interest of India or the standards of higher education in India.” They will also be allowed cross-border movement of funds.

The objective is to provide an international dimension to higher education, enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at a reasonable cost, and make India an attractive global study destination with the entry of FHEIs into India. 

UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar has declared that in keeping with the National Educational Policy 2020, a step forward to the internationalization of Indian higher education would be granting permission to foreign universities to set up campuses in India. As mentioned in NEP 2020, “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”.

Foreign Universities' interest in India

According to UGC Chairman, M Jagadesh Kumar, several European nations have expressed interest in establishing campuses in India. A poll conducted by The National Institute of Education Planning and Administration discovered that eight foreign universities were interested in setting up international campuses in India. One each from the UK, Australia, and Canada, and five are from the United States.

When it comes to scaling up the quality of higher education, every institution has pushed its limit. Likewise, this has been the experience with Indian institutes of repute trying to broaden the pyramid. Establishment of the foreign institutions in India would enrich the Indian education system. 

Well, online learning platforms have contributed a lot to gaining the trust of learners for international institutions. Even though it took its peak during the pandemic, it became a boon for many to learn and educate themselves. Though, the released draft focuses more on offline mode. UGC Chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar stated that foreign universities with campuses in the nation can only offer full-time programs in offline mode and not online or distance learning. After taking into account comments from all interested parties, the final rules would be released by the end of the month.  

After all, the world has witnessed how the Indian Talent pool has enriched the global economy, despite any particular industry. For instance, the common thing among Adobe, Google, and Microsoft, apart from the fact that they are all tech giants, is that they are led by Indian technocrats! Well, Proud of the Indian Talents! Now, the UGC's decision on higher education would increase the standard of Indian education and decrease the outflow of Indian talents. 

Experts' opinion 

Academics and business experts held contrasting opinions about the UGC's draught regulations for the establishment and operation of foreign universities in India. Some professionals showed their concern that these institutions would find it difficult to manage particular issues facing the Indian educational system. Others have thoughts about adequate physical infrastructure, there would be a major inflow of foreign investment into the country.

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 stated. "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. (Source: India Today Web Desk)

“Meritorious students who were unable to travel overseas because of financial constraints or visa issues will continue to study in India. This may result in Indian industry having access to a larger pool of highly skilled people, which is needed to help the Indian economy grow rapidly,” said Rahul Chadha, Managing Partner at Chadha & Co, a corporate and commercial law firm based in New Delhi. (Source: Money Control)