New Delhi: Given that India has witnessed an outflow of funds with nearly 28-30 billion US dollars with lakhs of students studying abroad every year, the University Grants Commission (UGC), on Thursday, released the draft guidelines for the setting up of foreign varsities in India. Foreign universities that factor into the top 500(overall or subject-wise) of international university rankings will be welcome to set up their campuses in India. Those universities that do not participate in these rankings but have a distinguished reputation due to their research and publications will also be allowed to open up a campus after an approval from UGC.
Countries interested but no specifics yet
Several European countries and visiting foreign delegations have already shown interest in establishing their campuses in the country, said UGC Chief M Jagadesh Kumar who didn’t provide further details into the names of the countries or institutes.
Liberty to syllabus, qualifications at par with institutes abroad
The foreign varsities will be at the liberty to determine their syllabus and admission processes, as long as the quality of the knowledge imparted does not differ from that of their parent campus, said UGC Chief Jagadesh Kumar. The qualifications bestowed by foreign varsities in India will also be at par with their counterparts abroad. It will be mandatory for these colleges to impart education in a physical classroom as online teaching or distance learning will not be permitted under this setup.
The universities will have complete autonomy over the kind of courses they will offer and what the course content would be. The UGC will be able to review the functioning of these varsities and can put a stop to educational material that goes against the ‘national interest’.
FHEIs can admit students from various countries, reservation a choice
Foreign higher education institutions (FHEI) will be free to admit students from both India and other countries. The criteria for admission and the frequency of their intakes are to be decided by FHEIs. Reserved quotas for Indian students will exist only if a varsity wishes to do so.
“The fee structures for foreign institutions in India will be left up to the discretion of these varsities, provided that they are transparent and reasonable about it,” explained the UGC Chief. “However we will encourage them to provide full or partial need-based scholarships which are usually the norm at foreign universities,” he added.
Faculty members have to work full-time
Indian and foreign professors alike are allowed to be a part of these institutions. Foreign professors will be required to work full-time and not as visiting faculty and all the staff will be compensated according to the guidelines of the institution they work in.
Can Indian students avail jobs after graduating from the campuses?
On the question of Indian students studying in foreign universities having the opportunity to avail part-time jobs, Kumar stated that students can take part in research projects and receive financial aid at the discretion of the institution.
The cross-border fund transfers would be governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Act, said the UGC chief. Under FEMA 1999, the universities will be able to repatriate the funds they gain in India. These Foreign HEIs can establish their campus using the Companies Act, Limited Liabilities Partnership Act, or by setting up their own branch office.
Foreign HEIs can apply for renewal after fulfilling requirements
The varsities will be required to set up their campus within two years after which they will get preliminary approval to run their campus for a period of ten years, following the same the institutes can apply for a renewal. The Foreign HEIs will not be permitted to discontinue any programme or campus without prior approval from the UGC to protect the interests of the students.
“A copy of UGC regulations will be sent to all ambassadors in Delhi, Indian foreign ambassadors abroad, and reputed universities in other countries for feedback. After inculcating their suggestions the UGC will release final guidelines at the end of this month,” said Jagadesh Kumar.
Academics, experts raise doubts on UGC's draft norms
Academics and industry experts had differing views on the University Grants Commission's draft norms for the establishment and operation of foreign universities in the country with some saying such universities would not be able to address the unique problems of the Indian education sector, according to a report by PTI.
"It is only unfortunate that the UGC, which is going to be dismantled, is making all the reforms. The very fact that the government does not have the will to discuss them as bills in Parliament is the reason that it is getting them introduced through the UGC," Abha Dev Habib, a professor at Delhi University told the news agency.
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