UGC’s draft regulations-2023: Opening the campus door

Source– The post is based on the article “UGC’s draft regulations-2023: Opening the campus door” published in The Indian Express on 7th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Issues related to development and management of education

Relevance– Higher education

News– The article explain the new draft guidelines issued by central government to allow foreign universities in India

What are important provisions contained in draft guidelines?

The UGC draft regulations-2023 allow top 500 foreign universities to establish their branch campuses in India. The ranking will be decided by the UGC from time to time.

It set another criterion for a branch campus to be opened up in India that the applicant should be a reputed institution in its home jurisdiction.

The draft regulations-2023 allow foreign higher educational institutions to decide a fee structure that is “transparent and reasonable”.

Foreign higher educational institutions now have the freedom to decide qualifications, salary structure, and other conditions of service for appointing faculty and staff.

The Foreign Higher Educational Institutions should arrange for adequate physical infrastructure.

All Indian students with foreign degrees are required to get an equivalence certificate from the Association of Indian Universities. The draft regulations-2023 waive off equivalence requirement for the degrees granted by the foreign branch campuses in India.

Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall not offer any such programme of study which jeopardises the national interest of India or the standards of higher education in India.

The operation of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall not be contrary to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency, or morality.

It allows for smooth repatriation of profits earned by the foreign branch campuses under the rules and FEMA, 1999.

What are issues with the draft guidelines?

It is not clear how the UGC would determine the reputation of such foreign universities that do not appear in any world rankings but are considered reputed in their home country.

The freedom to decide fee structure will make the courses offered by foreign universities expensive and not accessible to many students. It will not be in tune with the NEP-2020 commitment to cater to the needs of socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

The provision related to arrangement of physical infrastructure would be problematic for foreign higher education institutions. They will be  reluctant to go for major infrastructural investment.

it would be difficult to ensure that the degrees offered by the foreign branch campuses would be accepted by the employers in the home countries of the campuses.

The provisions related to sovereignty, security and national interest would be problematic for Humanities and Social Sciences where multiple interpretations are popular. The foreign faculty members may find it difficult to balance state policies, sensibilities and their intellectual standpoint.

A major bone of contention between foreign branch campuses and the Indian government had been the issue of repatriation of profit. Education in India is not a profitable enterprise. It is a public good.


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