UGC draft on twinning okayed by Law Ministry

Dec 22, 2012 by

Source: Reuters via India Newswatch

The Law Ministry has approved the UGC draft regulations on twinning arrangement paving the way for educational courses to be offered by foreign universities in India and vice-versa from forthcoming academic session.

The draft is now with the HRD Ministry awaiting final approval and then notification to allow the top 500 universities across the world to start courses will follow. The regulations include process to initiate even undergraduate courses in Indian universities.

“The UGC has been given the mandate for final word in this regard. The foreign universities will be governed by the UGC,” said a top HRD Ministry official.

According to UGC, “twinning” is an arrangement by an Indian University or institution with a foreign institution or university to offer academic programmes either jointly or independently in India or abroad.

The HRD Ministry had asked the UGC to identify possibilities within the existing laws of regulating and allowing the foreign educational institutions to India. With uncertainty over the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010, in Rajya Sabha, the HRD Ministry has now allowed foreign institutions to enter under different arrangements.

So far, private universities in India are in collaboration with institutions from abroad bypassing the Indian Government. Following rampant violations, the Centre had asked the UGC to regulate foreign institutions entering India. At the same time a cap that arrangement has to be only from top 500 universities world over has been mooted.

About 600 foreign education providers are presently operating in the country through various arrangements completely ignorant of the rules and law of the country facilitated by Indian institutions.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal during his visit to United States in June 2012 announced entry of eight select institutions as part of educational partnership under First Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. Further, admissions for academic programmes offered through twinning programme will be sans the reservation policy of Government of India.

TCS Insights: The regulation, which only allows the top 500 universities (as listed in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking and the Shanghai Jiaotong ranking) to offer twinning programs, has been approved by the Indian Law Ministry. If approved by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the fate of about 600 foreign universities that partner with Indian universities will need to be determined. This regulation has received strong opposition from international education providers, including Canada, the US, UK, New Zealand, and Australia. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in India is awaiting confirmation of next steps and is advocating, along with our friendly competitors, on this issue with MHRD and the University Grants Commission (UGC).