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UGC releases Draft regulations for entry of foreign universities into India for setting up campuses

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The draft of University Grants Commission (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 has been made public by the UGC, the national higher education regulator in India and public feedback/suggestions/comments has been invited by January 18. The proposed regulations when finalized will mark a major development in India’s higher education domain as it will be for the first time in 75 years since country’s independence that foreign higher education institutions will be permitted to enter into the country for setting up brick and mortar campuses. The last attempt through THE Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010 had failed and same lapsed in 2014 without being passed due to stiff domestic political opposition.

However, this time around, things seem to be in favor and the route of regulations more pragmatic.  According to the publicized draft regulations, “These Regulations aim to facilitate the entry of foreign higher educational institutions into India,” while adding that a regulatory framework allowing the entry of higher-ranked foreign Universities, as envisaged in NEP, 2020, will provide an international dimension to higher education, enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at affordable cost, and make India an attractive global study destination.  The draft further says that these Regulations shall regulate the entry and operations of Foreign Universities/ Institutions in India to conduct undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral, post-doctoral, and other programmes and award degrees, diplomas, and certificates in all disciplines.

The conditions for applicants is that If the applicant is a foreign university, it should have secured a position within the top 500 of overall / subject-wise global rankings, as decided by the Commission from time to time. In the case of a foreign educational institution, the applicant should be a reputed institution in its home jurisdiction. Under these under these Regulations FHEIs shall not be allowed in online and ODL.

The Commission shall constitute a Standing Committee to examine matters related to the Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India. This Committee 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.

Other broad conditions for FHEI applicants included in the draft include:

Permission by the Governing Body or Board, by whatever name called, for establishing campuses in India;  Information on infrastructural facilities, availability of faculty, fee structure, academic programmes, courses, curricula and financial resources for setting up and operations of campuses in India, and any other details that may be sought; the latest Accreditation / Quality Assurance report from a recognised Body.

The applicants will have to give an Undertaking to the effect that- (i) the quality of education imparted by it in its Indian campus is at par with that of the main campus in the country of origin, (ii) the qualifications awarded to the students in the Indian campus shall be recognised and treated as equivalent to the corresponding qualifications awarded by the Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in the main campus located in the country of origin for all purposes, including higher education and employment.

The FHEI shall ensure that the quality of education imparted by it in its Indian campus is at par with that of the main campus in the country of origin. Also, the qualifications awarded to the students in the Indian campus shall be recognised and treated as equivalent to the corresponding qualifications awarded by the Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in the main campus located in the country of origin. The qualifications awarded under these Regulations shall be equivalent to any corresponding degree awarded by the Indian Higher Educational Institution with the following stipulations: (i) there shall be no further requirement of seeking equivalence from any authority; and (ii) the degree shall have all benefits, rights, and privileges as obtained in the case of a degree awarded by an Indian Higher Educational Institution ordinarily.

The Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall not offer any such programme of study which jeopardises the national interest of India or the standards of higher education in India and the operation of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions 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. The Commission shall have the right to inspect the campus and its operations at all times to ascertain the infrastructure, academic programmes and overall quality and suitability. The Commission shall impose a penalty and/or suspend/withdraw approval at any time in the event of the  campus of the Foreign Higher Educational Institution has failed to adhere to or has violated these Regulations;  Its activities or academic programmes are against the interest of India;  It has failed to abide by the undertaking given at the time of application;  It engages in operation (s) other than the one (s) permitted under these Regulations;  In case of any adverse finding, misappropriation and suppression of facts. Any disputes in relation to the setting up and operation of the campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall be governed by Indian law.

Members of public who are interested in giving their feedback/suggestions/comments can do so online at  ugcforeigncollaboration@gmail.com by January 18, 2023

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