if the rules change, Ghosh said.
Under the proposed rules, non-profit foreign universities in the top 400 worldwide would be able to open campuses. The rules need a final sign-off from the law ministry, which will take up to three months, according to R.P. Sisodia, joint secretary for higher education at the Ministry of Human Resources and Development.
While India has dithered, other Asian countries have moved ahead, with foreign universities in Malaysia and Singapore attracting Indian students.
Spokespeople for Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Duke University and the U.K.'s University of Northampton told Reuters they had no plans for a campus in India, even though they all have or plan to have research centres or offer courses on a local campus.
"The environment has not been a welcoming one thus far and people have looked elsewhere," said Vincenzo Raimo, the director of the international office at Britain's University of Nottingham, which has campuses in China and Malaysia. "Anyone who's going to open there (India) needs to be brave."
Foreign colleges would only meet a tiny portion of India's demand for places, but their presence would put pressure on domestic counterparts to improve, higher education experts say.
To be sure, India's planning commission has set a target of creating 10 million more university places in the next few years and boosting funds for the top domestic universities to try to elevate them to the ranks of the world's top 200 by 2017.
If India fails to harness its population boom over the next two decades, its demographics could be "a disaster - not a dividend", Espirito Santo said.
"A major shortage of jobs in the economy, or a skills mismatch, would create a young, angry and frustrated population," its report said.