The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced draft norms for facilitating foreign universities and educational institutions to set up campuses in India which allow them autonomy in determining fees, as well as a 90-day approval process. The final norms will be notified by the end of the month after feedback from all stakeholders.
A foreign university with a rank among the top 500 global rankings or a foreign educational institution of repute in home jurisdiction can apply to the UGC to set up a campus in India.
“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,” UGC Chairperson M. Jagadesh Kumar said at a press conference.
The application will be considered by a standing committee appointed by the UGC which will submit its recommendations within 45 days after examining the institution’s credibility, programmes offered, their potential to strengthen educational opportunities in India, proposed academic infrastructure. Subsequently, within 45 days, the UGC may grant in-principle approval to the foreign institution to set up campuses in India within two years. The initial approval will be for 10 years, which can be extended.
Such a campus can evolve its own admission process and criteria to admit domestic and foreign students. It will also have autonomy to decide its fee structure, and will face no caps that are imposed on Indian institutions. The fee should be “reasonable and transparent”.
It will also have autonomy to recruit faculty and staff from India and abroad. The courses to be offered cannot be in online and open and distance learning mode.
The qualifications awarded to the students in the Indian campus should have equivalence with those awarded by the institutions in their country of origin.
Foreign higher education institutions will also be allowed cross-border movement of funds and maintenance of Foreign Currency Accounts, mode of payments, remittance, repatriation, and sale of proceeds, as per the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999 and its Rules and an audit report will have to be submitted to the UGC.
“The UGC should ensure equal amount of academic, administrative and financial autonomy to Indian universities as much as foreign universities might be entitled to. Such a level playing field will ensure progressive competition and increase overall quality and excellence in Indian higher education,” said S. Vaidhyasubramaniam, Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA Deemed University.