HRD Ministry finalising UGC rules; universities may function as companies

Foreign educational institutions may soon set up campuses in India, with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) supporting the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s proposal to permit foreign universities to enter India under the Companies Act.

In an official statement released on Tuesday, the HRD Ministry said it “is in the process of finalising the UGC (Established and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Educational Institutions) Rules by which foreign universities can set up campus in India and issue foreign degrees.”

Foreign universities will be allowed to function in the country as companies under Section 25 of the Companies Act, in line with the proposal sent by the Ministry to the DIPP and DEA.

“Under the proposed rules, Foreign Educational Institutions (FEIs) can set up campuses in India once the FEIs have been notified as Foreign Education Provider by the UGC,” the Ministry statement said.

These institutions should be within the top 400 universities of the world, according to the ranking published by Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds or the Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Further, the institutions, which will be required to maintain a corpus of not less than Rs 25 crore, will have to be not-for-profit entities that have been in existence for at least 20 years, and accredited by an agency of the country of origin or by an internationally accepted system of accreditation.

Given that the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010, has been pending in Parliament for over three years, since it was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in May 2010, some industry experts see this new move as a back-door entry for foreign institutions. The Bill has also faced a lot of opposition from a section of educationists as well as political parties.

However, HRD Ministry officials deny any attempts to allow back-door entry to foreign universities since these universities (which come in under Companies Act) will not provide Indian degrees, as envisioned in the Bill.

The degrees awarded by the Indian campuses of foreign universities will be considered foreign degrees and if these students wish to pursue further studies in an Indian institute or seek Government jobs, they will have to seek equivalence for the degree, as is required for other foreign degrees.

aesha.datta@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 10, 2013)
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