In a significant development in the world of higher education, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has unveiled new regulations that permit foreign universities, ranked among the world’s top 500, to establish branch campuses in India. These regulations empower these foreign institutions to shape their admission procedures, and fee structures, and facilitate fund repatriation to their parent campuses.
Under these groundbreaking rules, two or more foreign universities can join forces to establish campuses in India, provided each institution independently meets the eligibility criteria. Furthermore, each foreign university is granted the opportunity to establish multiple campuses within the country. It’s worth noting that they must submit a separate application to the commission for each proposed campus.
These guidelines come after nearly 10 months of public feedback and have undergone significant revisions based on input received. One key change is the requirement for international faculty appointed to teach at Indian campuses to stay in the country for at least one semester. Additionally, the processing time for applications by the standing committee has been extended from 45 to 60 days, with recommendations presented to the UGC within the same timeframe.
The regulations also clarify that foreign universities cannot establish learning centers, study centers, or representative offices to promote their programs outside India without prior approval from the commission. While online programs and Open and Distance Learning modes are not permitted under these regulations, limited online lectures, not exceeding 10% of the program requirements, are allowed.
Foreign institutions are exempt from paying annual fees to the UGC, with only a one-time application fee required. They are responsible for setting up their campuses using their own infrastructure, land, physical resources, and human resources. In a move aligned with the National Education Policy 2020, these foreign universities may also offer full or partial merit-based and need-based scholarships, along with fee concessions to Indian students.
It’s important to note that this development aligns with the vision outlined in the National Education Policy 2020, which seeks to create a legislative framework allowing top global universities to operate within India. While previous attempts to achieve this, including efforts by the UPA government, faced opposition, the UGC’s latest regulations mark a significant step forward in realizing this vision.