India ready to finally opens the gates for foreign varsities; riders attached

FEForeign universities can soon set up independent campuses in India and offer degrees without the need to collaborate with Indian institutes. Under the proposed rules, Foreign Educational Institutions (FEI) that want to set up a campus in India, can do so through an association to be registered as a company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.

As per the powers vested with the Central government to make rules under the UGC Act, the MHRD is finalising the UGC (Established and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Educational Institutions) rules by which foreign varsities can set up campus in India and issue foreign degrees.

MHRD recently sent proposals to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and Department of Economic Affairs to permit foreign universities open campuses in the country as companies, as provided under the Companies Act and both departments have given their approval.

The degrees awarded to the students need to get an equivalence certificate from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), the MHRD said in its statement. These universities will also function under the UGC rules.

While to the foreign universities this is an opportunity to tap a country with a population of 1.2 billion, to Indians provides a chance to receive quality education without leaving the country or to pay in dollars. For India, it also turns out an good opportunity to lure significant foreign direct investment.

As per MHRD officials over a dozen foreign universities mainly from the US, followed by Australia and Canada have expressed their desire to enter the market.

MHRD is working on the details and an official notification is expected to published soon. Once it is notified , it will render irrelevant the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill 2010, which the government was unable to get passed in the parliament.

However, there are riders attached in the new rules that may prove to be a deterrent in attracting the foreign players.

For the starts, the FEI must be among the top 400 universities of the world as per the ranking published by Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds or the Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

They would have to be a not-for-profit entity that has been in existence for at least 20 years and accredited by an agency of the country of origin or by an internationally accepted system of accreditation.

In addition to this, they will be required to maintain a corpus of not less than Rs 25 crore (brought down from Rs 50 crore suggested earlier).

The courses offered are to be of quality comparable to those in their main campus.

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