Monday, 30th October 2017

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Foreign varsity campus plan

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  • Published 21.08.13

New Delhi, Aug. 20: Students aspiring for higher studies at a top-flight foreign institution could soon realise their dream — without having to leave India.

The government has told the Rajya Sabha that the University Grants Commission is set to enforce the UGC (Establishment and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Educational Institutions) Rules, allowing foreign education providers to set up campuses as Section 25 — or not-for-profit — companies.

HRD minister M.M. Pallam Raju, who was replying to a question in Parliament recently, said the higher education regulator had prepared the rules that have been supported by the departments of industrial policy and promotion and economic affairs. The rules may be notified soon.

Foreign institutions cannot set up campuses in India now in the absence of a legal framework. The government had introduced a Foreign Education Providers Bill in Parliament in 2010 but it has been in the freezer since because of lack of consensus among parties. Because of the delay, the government has preferred to follow the executive route to allow foreign institutions.

Under the proposed rules, foreign institutions that figure among the top 400 universities in the world — according to rankings published by the Times Higher Education, London, Quacquarelli Symonds, a company that specialises in education and studies abroad, or Shanghai Jiao Tong University — will be able to set up campuses as Section 25 companies. A Section 25 firm is a not-for-profit institution that can generate surplus but must plough it back.

Foreign institutions intending to apply under the proposed rules must be not-for-profit legal entities that have been in existence for at least 20 years and registered by an accrediting agency of the country concerned or by an internationally accepted system of accreditation.

The foreign education providers will have to offer programmes or courses comparable in quality to those offered to students on their main campuses. Before being notified as a foreign education provider, each such institution will be required to maintain a corpus of not less than Rs 25 crore.

The rules also include clauses for penalties ranging from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for violating any of the provisions or the UGC Act, besides forfeiture of the corpus.

The degrees awarded by these institutions would be treated as foreign degrees, subject to equivalence accorded by the Association of Indian Universities for further studies or government jobs.

N.R. Madhava Menon, founder-director, National Law University Bangalore, said the UGC regulations could attract foreign institutions that want to expand operations but doubted whether top universities like Harvard, Yale or Cambridge would set up campuses in India. “I am not sure if the top universities will prefer to come.”

Former Delhi University vice-chancellor Deepak Pental said the foreign varsities’ entry would boost research. “There is a fear some of the top faculty of Indian institutions will join them. But that is not a major concern. Their coming will be beneficial for our institutions academically.”