Foreign universities can soon set up campuses in India without collaborating with Indian institutes and offer degrees. Unable to get Parliament approval for the Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, the Ministry of Human Resource Development took the UGC route to allow foreign varsities to operate in India.
As per the powers vested with the Central government to make rules under the UGC Act, the Ministry 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.
The HRD Ministry has 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. Both departments are on board.
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. The rider: 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.
Degrees awarded by FEIs would be treated as foreign degrees and shall be subject to the equivalence accorded by the Association of Indian Universities. The FEIs will offer courses of quality comparable to those in their main campus.
After almost every US visit, Kapil Sibal, then HRD Minister, claimed many foreign universities were interested in setting up campuses in India and were waiting for passage of the Bill. As things didn’t move, Sibal, seeking to use the ‘grey area’ to identify possibilities within existing laws, asked the UGC to consider the same. HRD Minister MM Pallam Raju is now following it up.
According to the HRD Ministry, 631 FEIs were operating in 2010 — 440 functioning from home campuses, five in own campuses, 60 in programmatic collaboration with local institutions, 49 under twinning arrangements, and 77 in arrangements other than twinning or programmatic collaboration.