UGC Releases Draft Regulations Facilitating Entry of Foreign Campuses in India

The UGC has released Draft Regulations that propose a mechanism to facilitate the establishment of foreign campuses in India and lay down the procedure to be followed for the same. 

Introduction

The National Education Policy, 2020 (“NEP”), envisaged the internationalization of higher education in India by allowing foreign universities to set up their campuses in India. In furtherance of the same, the University Grants Commission (“UGC”) issued the draft University Grants Commission (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 (“Regulations”). This draft has been formulated to ensure that Indian students get access to the education offered by foreign institutions without having to travel abroad.

Overview of the Draft Regulations

The draft regulations lay down certain criteria to be followed before foreign higher education institutions can set up their campuses in India as per which the foreign higher education institution must:

  • Mandatorily obtain approval from UGC.
  • In the case of foreign universities, be one of the top 500 universities (as per overall or subject-wise global rankings as specified by UGC) or in case of foreign institutions be a reputed institution in its home jurisdiction (as per the notified regulations, foreign universities and institutions have been clubbed under foreign higher educational institutions. Accordingly, the foreign higher educational institution, at the time of application, should have secured the prescribed position within the top 500 in the overall or subject-wise category of global rankings or should possess outstanding expertise in a particular area).

Additionally, the procedure for making an online application on the UGC portal has been provided. As part of the procedure, a non-refundable fee has to be paid and the application should be accompanied by the required information and documents such as the fee structure, courses, resources, information on infrastructure and faculty, etc. The manner in which the applications would be processed is two-fold:

  • The guidelines require the UGC to set up a standing committee that must process each application on merits which entails checking the credibility of the institution, the impact that the institution would have in creating opportunities in India, etc. The recommendations need to be made by the standing committee within 45 days from the day the application is received (extended to 60 days as per the notified regulations).
  • After receiving the standing committee’s recommendations, the UGC may initially grant in-principle approval and issue a Letter of Intent to the institution, within 45 days of receiving the said recommendation (extended to 60 days as per the notified regulations), to set up campuses in India.

With respect to commencement of operations, the standing committee has to provide its recommendations after the institution conveys its readiness for such commencement and thereafter, the UGC must issue a notification with (or without) conditions for the institution to operate in India, within 45 days (extended to 60 days as per the notified regulations). The approval granted by the UGC is valid for 10 years and has to be renewed one year before its expiry. The institution would have to apply for a renewal in the ninth year and the UGC may then grant renewal for the next 10 years (the provisions regarding validity and renewal of approval have been omitted under the notified regulations). Further, a certain level of autonomy is proposed to be granted to foreign higher educational institutions in the following matters:

  • Making decisions regarding the fee structure.
  • Control over the admission process and criteria.
  • Formulating the norms for recruiting faculty from abroad or India including their qualifications and remuneration.

Some of the requirements prescribed by the draft, to be complied with by a foreign higher educational institution for setting up a campus in India are as follows:

  • The prospectus including details such as the number of seats offered in a program, fee structure, refund policy, and eligibility criteria has to be published on its website, 60 days in advance from the day on which the admissions are due to start.
  • Fee structure has to be transparent and reasonable.
  • The qualifications of the institution’s faculty should meet the standards of the main campus (situated in the institution’s country of origin).
  • The foreign faculty should stay in India for a reasonable period.
  • A student grievance redressal mechanism has to be set up.
  • The quality of education must be at par with that offered on the main campus (the notified regulations require the quality of education to be “similar to” that of the main campus).
  • The qualifications conferred on students at the Indian campus must be treated on the same level as the corresponding qualifications obtained at the main campus.
  • Adequate physical infrastructure should be arranged for.
  • It has to be ensured that the operations of the institution don’t compromise the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • It has to go through a quality assurance audit and submit the report when required.
  • An annual report must be submitted to the UGC.
  • The provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 have to be duly complied with [Additionally, the notified regulations require due compliance with provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010].

The UGC has been empowered under the Regulations to impose a penalty and/or suspend/withdraw approval in the following circumstances – a) The campus of the foreign higher educational institution has failed to adhere to or has violated the Regulations; b) Its activities or academic programmes are against the interests of the country; c) It has failed to abide by the undertaking given at the time of application; d) It engages in operation (s) other than the one (s) permitted under the Regulations; and d) In case of any adverse finding, misappropriation and suppression of facts.

Conclusion

Education not only plays a crucial role in the development of a human being but also helps in the advancement of the nation. Over the past few years, the government and regulatory bodies have introduced numerous measures to strengthen the education sector. The UGC, in an attempt to ensure that Indian students get an opportunity to receive an affordable international degree and to help make India a “global study destination”, unveiled the draft Regulations. It remains to be seen whether the  Regulations serve the needs of and are suitable for Indian students considering that Indians choose to study abroad for a multitude of reasons not contemplated in the draft regulations.

Image Credits:

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels 

Education not only plays a crucial role in the development of a human being but also helps in the advancement of the nation. Over the past few years, the government and regulatory bodies have introduced numerous measures to strengthen the education sector. The UGC, in an attempt to ensure that Indian students get an opportunity to receive an affordable international degree and to help make India a “global study destination”, unveiled the draft Regulations. It remains to be seen whether the  Regulations serve the needs of and are suitable for Indian students considering that Indians choose to study abroad for a multitude of reasons not contemplated in the draft regulations.

POST A COMMENT