Great news for students in Bhutan who seek to get world-class education without bearing the exorbitant cost of going and studying abroad. India is all set to open its door to foreign universities. An important step was taken by the University Grants Commission (a statutory body set up by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India in accordance with the UGC Act 1956 and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education in India) in January to further liberalise the entry of foreign educational institutions (FEIs) into India, when the draft UGC (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023, was put up for comments.
As per these draft regulations, for the first time in the history of Indian education, FEIs will be allowed to set up campuses in India. These institutes will conduct undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral, post-doctoral and other programmes and award degrees, diplomas and certificates in all disciplines, on a standalone basis, with the prior approval of the UGC.
The foreign university entering should have secured a position within the top 500 of overall/subject-wise global rankings. It must also be an institution -of-repute in its home country. A Standing Committee constituted by the UGC will examine inter-alia the FEI’s credibility, programmes to be offered, proposed infrastructure, and its potential to strengthen educational opportunities in India, and give its recommendations to the UGC.
After the selection, a letter of intent will be issued to the FEI by the UGC, which will be later followed by a notification for the commencement of operations. Initially, the permission will be granted for 10 years. The institute will have the autonomy to decide the fee structure, recruitment of faculty/staff, salary structure and other services conditions.
It is expected that the higher education sector in India will witness a major boost if the draft regulations are brought into force. Students will have an access to world-class education from the world’s top universities in their home country. Faculties will get better opportunities. The universities will have international-level competition. It will be a major boost to the economy as well due to the increased foreign investment in the education sector which will lead to further economic growth.
This will not only benefit students from Bhutan but from the entire South Asian countries. Although, there are good institutes in the country itself, more often than not, students leave for India and the west every year for higher education. Most of them are keen on getting undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEM. In fact, many Indian institutes offer scholarships to our bright students.
In a survey conducted in 2021 among the top 200 universities by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), it was found that eight foreign universities have said that they would ‘definitely consider’ India to set up a branch.