India is marching toward becoming a hub for international education. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has constituted a committee to facilitate the entry of foreign universities into the country. The committee will finalise rules for international universities looking to set up campuses in India. The move comes shortly after the Union Budget highlighted the impending liberalisation in the higher education landscape.

UGC has chosen the Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) city as a special economic zone to open foreign university campuses. Besides the designated area, it will also open more campuses on the mainland. According to UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, the committee is already in the final stage of deliberations. Foreign institutions are keen to launch in India, and a few have already approached the UGC.


With this development, Indian students will not have to migrate overseas for higher education as world-class education will be available within the country. It will bring down the financial burden and open opportunities for students who do not afford international education. The government will benefit from a decrease in the outflow of foreign exchange from the country.  Other benefits include liberalisation of higher education, internationalisation, competitiveness, and bringing foreign students to India.

The February Budget covered a provision for foreign universities to be permitted to run their campuses in GIFT City in Gandhinagar without requiring to comply with the domestic rules. It opens lucrative opportunities for international education institutions to make repatriate profits without worrying about being regulated by the education regulators like UGC and AICTE. Top universities will offer post-graduate and executive programmes in technology and financial services from their campuses in GIFT City.


Although Indian regulators will not oversee the functioning of these campuses, UGC will explore collaboration possibilities between Indian universities and these foreign university campuses. So Indian universities will have an opportunity for collaborative research in evolving areas like technology and finance. UGC will even provide Indian universities with the necessary assistance they require for such collaborations. There are good chances of growth in the global ranking of Indian institutions.

Since the National Education Policy 2020 emphasised the need for letting in foreign universities in India and permitting Indian universities to establish campuses abroad, this seems like a step in the right direction. But the country will require a formal legislative framework to execute the plan.

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