Early in the New year, the University Grants Commission released a draft of the norms for foreign universities and educational institutions to establish their campuses in India. After taking feedback and opinions from various stakeholders, the final policy is expected to be published soon. This is in keeping with the recommendations for the internationalisation of higher education in the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP). What will this mean for students and institutions in India?
Affordability vs exposure
While students aspiring to study abroad may save on the cost of travel, stay and other incidental expenditure, they will miss out on the exposure to food, culture and other nuances that goes hand in hand with studying in a foreign country. While the draft norms state that foreign institutions will be free to fix their fee structure, the question of affordability has to be considered. Another aspect is the equivalence with Indian degrees so that students are able to find jobs in the government and private sector and take the various competitive exams for government jobs.
Will the foreign universities setting up campuses in India offer programmes that are not offered in this country? This will be a welcome approach as Indian students can develop expertise in domains that will enhance their knowledge base and their employment opportunity. With the UGC also allowing dual degree programmes, students may be able to pursue two programmes, of which one could be from a foreign university in India.
Competition to home institutions
The presence of foreign universities in India will bring in an element of competition and increase the standards and quality of Indian institutions. If foreign universities are going to offer the same programmes already available in India, it might cause a problem for institutions located in far-off or rural areas. As it is, many private institutions are closing down due to a lack of students for their programmes.
Many Indian institutions have overseas partners for short-term and long-term collaborative programmes. With foreign institutions opening campuses in India, what will happen to such programmes, which have brought in substantial benefits to both partners in terms of student and faculty mobility, research options and cross-cultural experiences? Overseas institutions setting up campuses in our country will pose difficulties in continuing with the study-abroad programmes. With the new arrangement, how will India be a chosen destination for overseas students to reciprocate, if our students get admission in a foreign university’s Indian campus?
The writer is Pro Vice-Chancellor Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science (Deemed to be University), Chennai.