By Gunjan Sharma
African and Gulf nations, Thailand and Vietnam are among potential destinations for Indian universities to set up their offshore campuses, regulations for which are ready and will be announced in a month, according to UGC chairman M Jagadesh Kumar.
In an interview to PTI, Kumar said several countries are coming forward to provide infrastructure to Indian universities to set up campuses abroad and the University Grants Commission (UGC) will handhold the institutions in identifying the countries where they can set up their offshore campuses.
The “internationalisation of education” plan outlined in the new National Education Policy (NEP) include three major reforms — foreign universities to set up campuses in India, Indian universities to set up campuses abroad and twinning, dual degree and joint degree programmes at Indian universities in collaboration with foreign varsities.
“We have in India huge university ecosystem. There are outstanding universities, both in central government, state government funded and private universities. We want to encourage these varsities to set up their campuses abroad. Some countries are coming forward to provide the infrastructure to our universities to set up their campus.
“We have countries where we have large Indian diaspora who want our campuses to come and provide education,” he said.
Asked about the countries which have expressed interest in welcoming Indian universities, Kumar said “several African countries”. “There is huge potential for setting up campuses in African countries. Thailand, Vietnam and few Gulf countries… there is immense interest and the opportunities are immense too. It is just that we have not had any enabling regulations so far,” he added.
Several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have been receiving requests from the Middle-East and South Asian countries to set up their campuses. While IIT Delhi is considering setting up a campus in UAE, IIT Madras is exploring options in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tanzania. IIT campuses are also in pipeline in Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia and the UK.
“IITs are known as institutions of national importance, they function under IIT Council. It has its own rules and regulations under which they can set up their own campuses. Already some IITs are working on that,” he said.
The Centre had last year set up a committee headed by IIT Council standing committee chairperson K Radhakrishnan. The panel has recommended creating a generic system like IIT, National Institutes of Technology (NIT) or Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), under which a series of institutes can be established as the current IIT Act does not provide for creating an IIT outside the country.
The panel had recommended that offshore campuses of IITs may be named as “India International Institute of Technology” and faculty members from the prestigious technology institutes here may be sent on deputation abroad. The IITs in India might get royalty from the campus abroad for using their brand name.
The UGC had last month announced that foreign universities will be able to set up their campuses in India for the first time and unveiled draft norms, under which these varsities can also decide on the admission process, fee structure and repatriate its funds back home.
Kumar said the final norms which will take into account the feedback received from stakeholders will be announced within a month too. “This regulation of UGC to bring the campuses of foreign educational institutions in India is widely discussed in our country because of the possible advantages that can bring to our students. The regulations are being fine tuned now. We also had discussions with various foreign universities delegations which have visited UGC, we have put draft for feedback and have received very good feedback. In another month or so, we will be able to release the final regulations,” he said.
The UGC had in 2021 amended its regulations, allowing Institutions of Eminence to set up campuses abroad after receiving no objection certificates from the ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs.