An India chapter for foreign universities
Why in News?
- Various proponents of the internationalization of higher education for almost two decades have emphasized the need to ensure a conducive environment and an enabling framework for establishing foreign universities in India.
- However, not much has been achieved in this direction due to regulatory concerns both in India and foreign higher educational institutions.
- Establishing foreign universities in India would limit the outflow of $28-30 billion in foreign exchange.
- The foreign outflow for education abroad in 2021-22 was not above $5.165 billion.
- Students prefer foreign studies not only for degrees but also for experience, post-study work visas, income opportunities, and career prospects.
- Some of the major concerns are about encouraging excellence, preventing malpractices, safeguarding the interests of students, and protecting national interests.
- There are also concerns about the cultural threat.
- Many policy planners and regulators are wary of establishing a framework that attracts the best and deters the fly-by-night kinds of universities.
- There are also issues about the potentially harmful effect of establishing offshore campuses with their accreditation, ranking, and reputation.
- Notably, countries with such offshore campuses had to hard-sell the idea by leasing land at negligible cost, bearing the majority of the infrastructure cost and guaranteeing academic, administrative, and financial autonomy. It is difficult for India to afford such incentives.
- Studying in foreign universities in India might not allow the students to navigate career opportunities and better income prospects in other countries.
Provisions in the National Education Policy:
- The National Education Policy 2020 has suggested a “legislative framework” but it is being executed through a regulatory route by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
- The draft regulation is willing to dilute the standards by extending the scope to the top 500 top universities of the world. Moreover, it would be sufficient to be a “reputed educational institution” in their home country. The UGC would unbiasedly and thoroughly process the applications and identify the best institutions.
- Contradictions in Regulation:
- The draft regulation suggested that the quality of education should be on par with the quality of courses at their campus in the country of their origin. It further insists that it should not “offer any study programme that jeopardizes standards of higher education in India and the national interest ”.
- On one hand it guarantees academic, administrative, and financial autonomy to foreign institutions while asserting that they should abide by the UGC and Indian government.
- It further highlights that foreign institutions should not do anything “contrary to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality”. It is argued that this might deter the best universities as they usually value academic autonomy.
- Despite several issues, India should have an enabling framework for the entry and operation of foreign higher educational institutions.