Foreign universities may soon be allowed to open their campuses in India

Foreign universities may soon get a green signal to enter India and operate independently by setting up campuses. These universities will also be allowed to offer degrees without having a local partner in India soon, as required currently.

The ministry of human resources development (HRD) has sent proposals to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) to permit foreign universities to open their campuses in the country as companies under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.

The HRD ministry is finalising the UGC (Established and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Educational Institutions) Rules by which foreign universities can set up campus in India and issue foreign degrees. It had sought comments and observations of DIPP and DEA on the rules and both have supported the proposal, it disclosed on Tuesday.

At present, it is mandatory for a foreign university to partner with a local education provider to offer courses. Moreover, the degrees that are handed out to students are not considered foreign degrees.

Under the proposed rules, foreign educational institutions (FEIs) can set up campuses in India once they have been notified as foreign education providers (FEPs) by the UGC. Each FEI has to fulfil certain eligibility conditions by registering as a company under section 25 of the Companies Act.

The FEI should be ranked among the top 400 universities of the world as per the ranking published by Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) or the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

All such FEIs shall be not-for-profit legal entities, which have been in existence for at least 20 years and accredited by an accrediting agency of that country or in the absence of its accreditation in that country, by an internationally accepted system of accreditation. Each of them would be required to maintain a corpus of at least Rs 25 crore.

The rules also provide for penalties ranging from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for the FEP which contravene any provisions or UGC Act, and the forfeited of corpus fund. The degrees awarded by these FEPs would be treated as foreign degrees only and the same shall be subject to the equivalence accorded by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) as per its system.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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