The setting up of foreign universities in India would save close to $50-60 billion that students spend every year to study abroad, according to industry estimates. Especially, experts believe that in Gujarat, it is expected to help the economy expand with the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI). “Every year thousands of students go abroad to the United States, Canada, Australia, to study at international universities. Not to mention, this helps them to get high paying jobs. So, if an international university opens up in our neighborhood, students will definitely flock to GIFT City bringing business to the state,” Aditya Sesh, Chartered Accountant, founder, managing director, Basiz Fund Service Private Limited, explained to FE Education Online.
As per University Grants Commission (UGC) (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023, foreign universities are allowed to open their international branch campus (IBC) in the GIFT City of Gujrat. The project worth Rs 78,000 crore has already got over $240 million investment and has generated more than 20,000 employment opportunities, the GIFT City website claims.
Australia’s Deakin University is the first to bid for investment in GIFT City with a deal of $4 million (around Rs 22 crore) in its initial phase. The university has announced plans to start by 2024 with a cohort of 100 students across its Cyber Security and Business Analytics programmes. “Out of these 100 students, even if 50 students come from outside Gujarat, the impact on the local economy would be manifold. There will be people required to offer multimedia work, for content work, accommodation, and public transport too will benefit,” Sesh said.
Ravneet Pawha, vice president (Global Alliances) and CEO (South Asia), Deakin University said that its campus in India is a commercial venture for the university and it will not be a not-for-profit entity. “So, yes it opens huge opportunities for us in terms of business. However, our overriding objective is not restricted to the commercial outcome,” Pawha said.
It should be noted that IFSCA’s regulations allow Foreign Higher Education Institutes (FHEIs) the freedom to repatriate funds, decide its fees structure, among other things that permits them to operate as a profit entity. “I think it’s a really good step forward by the government of India, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Education to come together to do this,” she said.
Furthermore, while it is expected that the entry of foreign universities in the Indian market would increase competition for domestic players, Pawha says, “We have no competition with the Indian institutions, because the Indian institutions operate at a different volume and at a different price point. Students will choose different institutions for different reasons.”