Source: Nitya Rajan of PIE News | A new ordinance from India could help foreign universities set up branch campuses as non-profit companies and issue government recognised foreign degrees for the first time – without any form of partnerships between itself and a local higher education institution (HEI) .
The announcement from India’s human resource development ministry (HRD) came over a month ago and still has a few more hurdles to jump before it becomes law. If it clears however, HEIs worldwide will have easier access to India’s 1.2 billion population– 50% of who are aged 25-years old and under.
“It could change mobility out of India but it is still early days and we don’t know when the laws will be set in stone,” John Bunter, Trade and Investment Adviser at British Deputy High Commission told The PIE News.
However, the Indian government is being seen to make every effort to welcome foreign universities, including reducing the deposit necessary to establish a campus from $ 8,125,000 to $4,062,500.
The new legislation also stipulates that universities be listed as one of the world’s top 400 and parent branches will not be entitled to distribute profit from their Indian campuses to overseas parent branches or repatriate money.
“The proposal is a positive thing. The biggest change is that degrees will be recognised as foreign degrees and it has been approved by the Indian government,” Amanda Selvaratnam, Director of The Training Gateway – a company brokering educational partnerships between UK training providers and global organisations – told The PIE News.
“A lot of universities are still happy to do the partnership approach. We had a delegation of eight universities from Pune who are meeting 18 British universities this week,” she said.
“Those within the UK who may be interested in launching campuses have kept their cards close to their chests,” she added.
Others, however, including US universities Duke University, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and VirginiaTech have been more vocal about the chance to capitalise on India’s booming student market.
“While Virginia Tech plans to establish research centres and graduate education programmes in India, we are waiting for the government of India to outline the final rules and regulations for the establishment of foreign universities in India,” Guru Ghosh, the vice-president for outreach and international affairs at Virginia Tech told The PIE News.
“In the meantime, we are moving forward with establishing a research centre outside Chennai in 2014,” he said.
Parent branches will not be entitled to distribute profit from their Indian campuses to overseas parent branches or repatriate money
Still, some industry experts say the ordinance’s small print could put HEIs off. In Canada, where some 12,049 student from India studied in Canada in 2011 , educators are pausing for thought before taking India’s bait.
“It’s positive in general but not a whole lot of Canadian institutions qualify for the top 400 requirement, right now there are some schools that would tick all those boxes,” Husain F. Neemuchwala, Chief Executive Officer of Canada India Education Council (CIEC) told The PIE News. “I have guarded optimism about the proposal, because it’s not easy to acquire land and the repatriation will also cause issues,” Neemuchwala added.
Bunter at the British Deputy High Commission added, “to work in India, universities have to know that there is a lot of bureaucracy that you have to overcome. They need to be ready for that.”
With 47 million people expected to be in the working age group by 2020 and India only spending 3.7% of its GDP on education, the government is hoping its open arms to foreign educators will meet the rising demand for quality education.
Local education in India has come under criticism for leaving its graduates poorly prepared for work – none of its institutions list in QS’s 2013/14 rankings.
Asked if Indian universities are worried what a potential flood of foreign educators might do to their own profits, Selvaratnam said: “Even if a university has a campus out there [in India], there are still opportunities for joint research and staff student research.”