What Oxford & other foreign universities have suggested to UGC to pave way for their entry into India

New Delhi: Allowing foreign university clusters to set up campus in India, clearly spelling out faculty eligibility criteria and in case of foreign faculty, stating their required duration of stay in the country — these are among key suggestions made by prominent foreign universities, including Oxford, to the University Grants Commission (UGC) to facilitate establishment of India campuses by such universities, ThePrint has learnt. 

Talking to ThePrint, UGC chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar said: “The UGC is going through these suggestions before finalising the draft guidelines for foreign universities planning to set up their campuses  in India. The final regulations will bring more clarity on these matters.”

According to the UGC chairman, India’s higher education regulator has so far received suggestions from over 200 Indian and international stakeholders, including University of Melbourne, Northeastern University, Oxford University, Texas university, University of Queensland, Istituto Marangoni, and St. Petersburg University, from across Australia, the US, UK, Canada, Italy, France, and Russia.

Kumar added: “We expect that foreign universities including Oxford have an interest in establishing a campus in India and that is the reason why they are giving the feedback. During the informal meetings at UGC with the foreign delegations, it was clear that they were interested.”

Cluster colleges are where two or more universities join together to start a campus. The UGC is still working on the modalities for foreign higher education institutes (FHEIs) which may seek to operate under that format while opening campuses in India.

“We are mulling over the suggestion on cluster colleges given by some of the foreign universities. Issues like which of the two universities will apply for registration and which university will give the degree are being discussed,” Kumar said, adding that if such a request comes, UGC will examine and take a decision.

“Our approach would be to create a mechanism of ease of providing education in the campuses of foreign universities,” Kumar said.

The provision for foreign universities to set up campuses in India was suggested in the new National Education Policy 2020. The UGC came out with the draft UGC (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations 2023 in January this year. The draft lays out norms for FHEIs to set up their campuses in India.

According to the draft unveiled by UGC in January to allow foreign universities to set up their campuses in India, the faculty recruited for the Indian campus need to have similar qualifications as required for appointment at the home campus. In addition to this, the faculty recruited at the Indian campuses will have to live in the country “for a reasonable period”. However, FHEIs will have the autonomy to recruit faculty from India and abroad according to its recruitment norms.

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‘Sessions may start by 2024’

Kumar said that UGC will start inviting applications from foreign higher educational institutions once the draft guidelines are ready. “We are in the process of giving final touches to the document,” he said.

According to Kumar, once an application is received from an FHEI, the UGC will take approximately 90 days to approve the same. After getting the ‘letter of intent’ from UGC, FHEis may start the process of setting up campuses within two years and then start operations.

The UGC has also developed an application portal for foreign higher educational institutions to apply with specific details.

Adding that more foreign university campuses may become operational from the upcoming academic session if the universities fast-track their process, Kumar said, “If the availability of the infrastructure and other resources is fast-tracked, we may see foreign higher educational institutions become operational latest from the academic year 2024-25.”

So far two Australian universities, Deakins and Wollongong, have confirmed that they will be setting up campuses in India. While Deakins has said it plans to start its operations “ as early as possible and by no later than mid-2024”, University of Wollongong had mentioned in July that it may start its campus by the end of 2023, but is yet to make further announcements regarding it.

As ThePrint had earlier reported courses offered by FHEIs are likely to include subjects such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, biotechnology, financial management, and business analytics, which are “sought after” by students and offer good job prospects.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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