Foreign varsities in India aimed at globalisation of higher education, says UGC chief

UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said it will help tap the 'huge appetite' of Indian students and allow them foreign qualifications at an affordable cost

Vatsala Shrangi January 09, 2023 15:15:54 IST
Foreign varsities in India aimed at globalisation of higher education, says UGC chief

UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar. News18

The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) new draft regulations on Foreign Higher Educational Institutions (FHEI) are aimed at opening up the country to the globalisation of higher education and allowing foreign branch campuses in India a free hand in terms of fee structure, admission policy and hiring of foreign faculty.

After the announcement, UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar, in an interview with News18, said it will help tap the “huge appetite” of Indian students and allow them foreign qualifications at an affordable cost.

Edited excerpts:

The new regulations mean a big step — opening up the higher education system to foreign universities. What will it mean for India in the future?

The new UGC regulation on facilitating foreign higher educational institutes (FHEIs) to establish their campuses in India is a long-awaited value addition to Indian higher education. Healthy competition and collaborations between these campuses and Indian institutes will emerge, improving the general higher education standards. A win-win situation for India and foreign universities. A win for India because the Indian students will have access to high-quality education right in India, and a win for foreign universities because they will be able to tap the huge appetite of Indian students, whose number is ever increasing.

Why has the UGC decided to give FHEIs a free hand to decide the fee structure and admission process? Will autonomy achieve the purpose that the NEP has envisaged through these regulations?

The National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 advocates a legislative framework for facilitating the entry of foreign universities into India. Such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India. Therefore, the regulatory framework of UGC is aimed at allowing the entry of higher-ranked foreign universities, as envisaged in the NEP 2020, to provide an international dimension to higher education, enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at affordable cost, and make India an attractive global study destination.

What kind of foreign universities are showing interest in the policy and in which disciplines?

We have received many queries with suggestions that they would be interested in considering this as an important possibility once the regulations are announced. Some countries from Europe are already in discussion with us. We are hopeful that many foreign universities will take advantage of this opportunity to meet the aspirations of students in the world’s second-largest education system.

Will FHEIs be allowed to offer engineering and medical courses here?

Engineering schools in the university system come under the purview of the UGC. As engineering discipline is popular in India, the campuses of FHEIs will offer them. After discussions with the respective regulator, we shall find out if these campuses of FHEIs can start medical courses.

Will the UGC have any say in FHEIs in terms of reservation for different categories of students similar to Indian-origin institutions?

The FHEI will have complete autonomy in deciding the admission process and tuition fee structure. However, to take care of the interests of students who may not have the financial means, the regulation prescribes that based on an evaluation process, full or partial need-based scholarships may be provided by the FHEIs from funds such as endowment funds, alumni donations, tuition revenues and other sources.

How will the UGC monitor the functioning of these campuses in order to ensure they don’t offer any course that “jeopardises national interest”, as mentioned in the draft regulations?

As the UGC regulation is a legal document, such provisions related to “national interest” are included as a protective measure and are a common practice in such documents globally. There is no need to read too much into it. However, the commission shall have the right to inspect the campus and its operations to ascertain the infrastructure, academic programmes, and overall quality and suitability.

In many countries universities allow students to work part-time while pursuing studies for which the number of hours is fixed. Will the UGC allow this or make any rules for that?

If such practices exist on the main campus, the FHEI will have the autonomy to implement similar practices on the campus in India.

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