UGC Foreign Universities Guidelines: Top 500 global rankings, no online or distance classes

UGC guidelines for foreign universities to start India campuses are final. Students can transfer abroad; faculty must stay for at least a semester.

UGC Foreign Universities Guidelines: Top 500 global rankings, no online or distance classes UGC's foreign university campus regulations include details on eligibility, procedure for approval, admission, fee structure, appointment of faculty and other staff, and more. (Photo: X/UGC)
R. Radhika | Nov 9, 2023 - 11:28 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: As more foreign universities express interest in setting up campuses in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has finalised the guidelines allowing entry of foreign universities.

The UGC (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 allow universities abroad that are in the top 500 in global rankings to set up campuses across India.

Foreign universities will be free to decide their admission process, fee structure, and will also be able to repatriate funds to their parent campuses. However, the faculty recruited for the Indian campus will have to be similar to the qualifications as required at the home campus. In addition to this, the faculty recruited at the Indian campuses will have to live in the country for at least a semester, the regulation states.

Making changes in the draft guidelines released in January this year, the commission has increased the time it takes for the standing committee to process applications from 45 to 60 days. The committee will have to present the report 60 days prior instead of 45 days, as per the final regulations. The modified document also allows foreign institutions to set up more than one campus on Indian soil. For each campus, the foreign institute will have to submit a separate application to the UGC.

So far two Australian universities, Deakins and Wollongong, have set up campuses in GIFT City. The universities, still under-construction, were formally launched on Tuesday by the union education minister, Dharmendra Pradhan. While Deakins plans to start its operations by July 2024, the University of Wollongong is likely to start its campus by the end of 2023, but is yet to make further announcements regarding it. The GIFT City institutions, however, will remain outside the purview of the UGC regulations.

The UGC has modified the draft of the regulations based on the suggestions from stakeholders, UGC chairman M Jagadesh Kumar told Careers360. “The suggestions mainly were in terms of clarifications. We have incorporated them in the regulations. Based on the queries and suggestions UGC has received, we have prepared detailed ‘frequently asked questions’ documents on these regulations.”

Also Read | 83% Indian students believe foreign degrees land them better jobs: Study

Q. What are the rules on fees, scholarships and compliance to national laws?

The UGC regulations mandate partial and full scholarships to students at the foreign university campuses. These institutions will also be required to offer tuition-fee concessions to students of Indian origin. The UGC has restricted the institutions from collecting any fee from students before the UGC grants approval to do so.

Since the institutions are allowed to set up campuses anywhere in India, all domestic and national laws applicable to Indian higher education institutions will be applicable to these institutions as well. As per the law, the foreign institutions will have to set up a grievance redress mechanism on campus.

Moreover, the students will have the freedom of mobility to transfer to the main campus located in the home country of a foreign university. First year students in Indian institutions who wish to enrol in the foreign educational institutions from second year onwards will also be allowed if the credits equivalence matches in both institutions.

ugc guidelines, ugc approved institution, ugc approved university, ugc foreign university guidelines, ugc, deakin university, university grants commission, deakin university admission, deakin university fee, deakin university coursesAustralia's Deakin University is one of the first foreign education institutions to set up campus in India. (Photo: Deakin University)

Q What type of courses can be offered by foreign universities?

A. The new regulations allow foreign universities to set up more than one campus anywhere in India. The universities will be free to offer certificate courses, diploma, degree programmes, postgraduate degree, PhD and even post-doctoral programmes. At the time of application, the foreign universities can seek UGC’s approval to start certain programmes.

The degree will be awarded by the foreign universities which will be equivalent to the corresponding degrees offered by Indian universities or at the main campuses of the foreign institutions. There is no further equivalence required, the UGC chairman clarified.

Also Read | UGC to grant foreign degree equivalence; restricts online, distance mode degrees

Once approval is granted, the institutions will have to seek permission from the UGC to start new programmes. The regulations do not permit the foreign universities to offer courses in online or open distance learning mode. However, 10% of the programme lectures can be delivered in the online mode, the regulation states.

Q. What type of foreign institutions will be allowed to apply?

While single institutions are welcome to set up a campus, the new regulations have also made provision for more than one foreign institution to collaborate and start a campus. The foreign institutes that feature in the top 500 in the overall category of global rankings at the time of application or the top 500 names in the subject-wise category of global rankings will be eligible to apply. Institutions with outstanding contributions that have demonstrated high research contributions and academic excellence will also be allowed to apply.

“During the last few months, several foreign university delegations met us at UGC, indicating their deep commitment to collaborate with India in higher education. We are confident that once the regulations are announced and the application portal is launched, there will be a speedy movement in such collaborations.

Universities from Australia, UK, Europe and US have expressed their intent to establish campuses in India during discussions with us,” said M Jagadesh Kumar.

Q. Is there any annual fee for foreign universities to open campuses in India?

Foreign institutions will have to pay a non-refundable fee at the time of applying to set up a campus in India. The earlier draft had stipulated an annual fee from second year onwards after the approval is granted to such institution. However, this fee has been scrapped and the commission will not charge any other annual fee once the approval has been obtained by the foreign institution.

Q Can the foreign universities operating in India have franchisees?

According to the UGC chairman, the foreign higher educational institutions, while operating in India, cannot set up study centres, carry out any promotional activities or any other franchise activities in India. One approved, the foreign universities will not be allowed to operate without their own land, infrastructure and facilities. UGC has barred foreign universities from sharing an existing campus while they still set up a campus.

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