On Dec 2nd 2022, we published how “Academic collaborations between Indian and Foreign Universities are in full swing”. According to the report, around 84,000 Indian students study in US universities alone. Some universities have already set up partnerships with Indian institutions, allowing students to partially study in India and complete their degrees on the main campus abroad.
But now we can soon expect to have globally renowned universities setting up campuses in India. Imagine a Harvard campus in Hyderabad, Oxford in Navi Mumbai and a Stanford University in Greater Noida’s Knowledge Park. Sounds interesting?
The University Grants Commission or (UGC) has announced draft norms for facilitating foreign universities and educational institutions to set up campuses in India. Now, a foreign university with a rank among the top 500 global rankings or a foreign educational institution of repute in home jurisdiction can apply to the University Grant Commission, to set up a campus in India. The current UGC draft will allow global institutions to set up campuses independently without local partners. The local campus can decide on admission criteria for domestic and foreign students, fee structure and scholarship, according to the draft. The institutions will also have the autonomy to recruit faculty and staff.
This concept to facilitate entry and operation of overseas institutions in the country has been introduced for the first time ever in the history of India and hence, a draft legislation has been set for seeking public feedback. The final norms will be notified soon after receiving the inputs from all stakeholders. The final draft thereafter will be presented to the parliament for its approval before becoming law.
“The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, has envisioned that top universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India. For this, a legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India,” UGC Chairperson, Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar said at a press conference.
While this may enable Indian students to obtain degrees from foreign universities and make India a global study destination, it is to be seen how this may have an impact on the Indian Universities.
We spoke to Prof. Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay, Director at Jagdish Sheth School of Management (JAGSoM) and Vice Chancellor at Vijaybhoomi University, on the following :
- Possible impacts on Indian Universities.
- Quality aspects (note that many Indian universities do not appear in global rankings).
- Will this move make the education providers more competitive?
- Are we going to witness liberalization of the education sector in India?
- And will this arrest the ‘Brain drain’ to some extent?
Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay, held top leadership positions in leading institutions of India as Director, IMT Ghaziabad, Dean MICA, Ahmedabad and as Deputy Director at SPJIMR, Mumbai shared his views.
Below are excerpts:
Impact on Indian Universities, if any :
“Entry of foreign universities will have a negligible impact on Indian institutions as the aspirant pool in India is huge. Majority of Indian students go to foreign universities for essentially two reasons – not making it into the top Indian institutions or aspiring for an international career. So, Indian institutions will maintain their position of pre-eminence, particularly the premier ones which are at par if not better than their global counterparts when it comes to teaching – learning. Foreign universities will need to really up their game to make a mark in the Indian education landscape.”
Quality aspects and why Indian Universities except few, are not seen in Global rankings:
Indian institutes are primarily into teaching whereas foreign institutes are known for research publications funded essentially through endowment. Historically, premier Indian institutions like IITs were set up to train engineers in the 1950s, while CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) was set up in the 1940s by GOI, for the purpose of research.
Students select an academic institute not for research output, but for education and learning. Key outcome parameters for Indian Institutes is the success of their graduates.
One needs to understand that ‘quality’ is a perception and not a function of rankings. Often popular global rankings are quoted to give the impression that Indian institutions are not at par with its global peers. However, global rankings have a heavy weightage on international students enrolled and publications in certain quality journals, which places the Indian institutions at a disadvantage.
Most importantly rankings do not determine the choice of aspirants. Take the case of NIRF rankings where IIT Madras is ranked on top. However, when it comes to the choice of aspirants, IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi are the top choices.
Having said that, just like ISB as a business school created a new segment of business graduates like the one-year MBA and attracted International faculty, the international universities in India should be able to create new opportunities and expand the market.
Are we going to witness liberalization of the education sector in India if this happens ?
The step of liberalizing the education sector is a welcome development
and is long overdue. While allowing the entry of foreign universities in India, the government needs to make certain that there is a level playing field for their Indian counterparts.
The points to ponder upon :
- Will foreign universities be required to meet the criteria of Indian accreditation like NBA or NAAC?
- If not, will Indian institutions with international accreditations like AACSB / EQUIS be subjected to the same treatment as their international counterparts?
- International universities have a disproportionately large endowment base – approximately 80 US universities collectively have an endowment base of USD 1 billion plus. Harvard’s endowment base alone is around USD 55 billion – which is more than 10 times India’s higher education budget. Given this, will the government consider allowing Indian institutions to tap the markets to raise funds, implying ROI for investors?
If yes, then that would be the real ‘1991 moment’ for the Indian education sector.
Finally, will this arrest ‘Brain Drain’?
Very unlikely in terms of numbers.
‘Brain drain’ may be seen as a boon too as we see the number of Indian CXOs in MNCs growing with each passing day, increasing India’s soft power.
However, in case, we can raise the number of good institutions in India, and with more opportunities available here within the country, a section of meritorious students from India who aspire to study abroad may wish to stay back, provided fees are comparable to Indian institutions.
In such cases, we may also witness foreign students coming to India for higher studies and India emerging as an international education hub. The question is, will the foreign universities be willing to take a hit on the dollar incomes in their home country, to expand in India?