With the University Grants Commission (UGC) set to finalise UGC (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) regulations by July 15, foreign universities which have been maintaining their top rankings for the past 3-5 years will be prioritised.
“Universities that appear within the top 500 in world university rankings maintain their position typically within that range for quite a reasonable time. While we may use the most recent world university ranking to find their eligibility to apply, we will also see if their ranking has been maintained consistently during the last three to five years,” UGC Chairman Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar told the Free Press Journal.
Different embassies, ministries suggest UGC on regulations
The draft regulations, which are currently in the final stages, will take into account suggestions from foreign universities, embassies, and ambassadors from the UK, US, Australia, Europe, and more, which are the most favoured regions for the current proposal.
According to Kumar, the UGC also consulted with multiple ministries, including external affairs and home ministry.
“These consultations with ministries are more about the types of legal entities allowed to set up campuses in India and how they can set up the campuses as per the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999/The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010, and its rules and regulations,” Kumar added.
Final regulations to come after delays
Though the regulations were initially supposed to be adopted in May 2023, as reported by The Free Press Journal, the delays have resulted in the announcement being pushed to next week.
Campuses can be established in next two years, follow two processes
Once the final draft guidelines kick in, the universities will have the opportunity to establish their campuses with academic programmes in India earliest by 2025.
First, the foreign university has to apply to UGC when the portal is launched with an expert committee examining and giving their recommendations within 45 days. UGC will consider these recommendations and deliver its decision within 45 days.
What will UGC do if a varsity discontinues programme?
With India’s universities being in the news for discontinuing programmes for a wide range of logistical, and academic reasons, UGC is already figuring out steps to deal with a similar situation in the case of foreign campuses.
“Protecting the interests of students is a top priority for UGC. In the case of a course or programme disruption or discontinuation of the campuses, the Foreign Higher Educational Institutions have to provide details of the alternative arrangements for the affected students during the application process,” stated Kumar, who added that foreign institutions need to establish redressal mechanisms as per the rules but students can reach out to the UGC if there’s lack of clarity from the institutes.
IFSC institutes to operate separately from UGC
Though Australian universities Deakin and Wollongong are already building campuses in Gujarat’s GIFT city, it’s under the ambit of International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) and not the UGC.
“In the rest of the country, wherever the campuses of foreign universities are established, they will operate under UGC regulations,” Kumar had told The FPJ in April 2023.
PM Modi's US visit significant to idea of foreign campuses
The regulations also assume significance in light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States wherein plans, to set up liaison offices in foreign missions to facilitate business and academic relationships, were discussed.