• | 5:35 pm

Foreign universities land on Indian shores as migration clouds darken

As costs of an international education rise amid changing immigration policies and trends in the West, bringing foreign education to domestic shores may offer a viable alternative

Foreign universities land on Indian shores as migration clouds darken
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Indian higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) had in January last year released the draft rules for foreign universities to set up and operate campuses in India.

Soon, Australia’s Deakin and Wollongong became the first foreign universities to announce plans to set up campuses in India.

In an interview to ABP News last April, UGC chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar had said that “about 200 universities had shown interest in India as their ideal destination to establish campuses.” The UGC did not respond to an email seeking details.

This month, Malaysia’s Lincoln University College became the latest to apply to UGC to set up its campus in India.

The increased interest in tapping India’s higher education sector is happening against the backdrop of changing education and immigration policies in the West.

Canada this year announced a cap on international student permits due to pressures on housing and services including healthcare, while Australia has introduced stricter requirements for international students to uphold the integrity of its education system and fight exploitation.

The UK’s approach to immigration has become more cautious amid economic challenges, while the US is seeing a sudden surge in attacks on people of Indian descent, despite the number of visas issued to Indian students climbing to a record last year.

As the costs of an international education rise amid the changing immigration policies and trends in the West, bringing foreign education to domestic shores may offer a viable alternative, enabling students to access global quality education without the financial, psychological and logistical burdens of studying abroad, analysts said.

First off the block

Under government rules, foreign universities can establish campuses in India either under UGC regulations or in the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), home to multinational banks and international stock exchanges, among other institutions.

Deakin and Wollongong universities have opened their India campuses at GIFT City, with the criteria for admissions being the same as in Australia.

“The entry criteria will be the same as that for our campuses in Australia, which are: a good undergraduate degree, work experience and English language assessment. Programs will be delivered in the same timeline and same trimester structure,” a spokesperson for Deakin University said.

The university has two courses listed for this year – Master of Business Analytics and Master of Cyber Security.

“The university will start with an intake of 100 students, 50 in each course. While tuition fee is yet to be finalized, it is estimated to be offered below the fee charged in Australia,” the spokesperson said.

The two-year course, which begins from July, will be delivered by local and international staff, along with guest lecturers, and is priced at about ₹21 lakh, or about $25,350.

On faculty recruitments, about 80% staff will be hired in India, while the rest will come from Australia, the spokesperson said, while adding that faculty from India will visit Australia every 12-18 months to “exchange knowledge and experiences with their Australian counterparts.”

The Indian teaching faculty will also be expected to complete a graduate certificate on teaching and learning methods in higher education within the first three years of employment, the spokesperson added.

A win-win opportunity

This month, the University of Wollongong India (UOW India) opened applications for its Master of Computing (Data Analytics) and graduate certificate in computing programs, with teaching in both courses expected to commence in July.

“In the three weeks since we opened applications, we have seen very positive response from prospective students,” pro vice-chancellor of global strategy professor Tony Travaglione said, adding that UOW India would offer a Master of Financial Technology and a graduate certificate in financial technology from this year, subject to final approval.

The University of Wollongong already has offshore campuses in Dubai, Hong Kong and Malaysia, but teaching at UOW India will be aligned to the Indian academic year, Travaglione said.

Student fees will be set at 50% of those incurred by international students studying at UOW’s Australian campuses, Travaglione said, adding that merit scholarships would be extended to “ensure bright and capable students can study at our UOW India GIFT City campus.”

Professor Alex Frino, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Wollongong, said the new campus “will help us grow our existing partnerships in India across higher education, government, industry, and research organizations.”

The university will collaborate with about 30 Indian universities in 3D bio-printing, water security, advanced medicine, molecular and life sciences, software, railway engineering, and mining technologies, among other areas, Frino said.

India’s market potential, access to talent, cultural diversity, and alumni engagement present a win-win opportunity, Frino said, adding that the university has a network of more than 8,300 Indian alumni. “It enables the university to be a globally connected institution, fostering academic excellence and preparing students for a globally interconnected world.”

“Our teaching base in GIFT City will be managed locally by an India campus director, who will report through the academic senate to the University of Wollongong council. Staff composition will be a mix of on-the-ground permanent local lecturers and sessional teachers, including a mix of staff from Australia and in Dubai, Frino added.

Impact on Indian universities

Foreign universities establishing campuses in India could enhance campus quality, education opportunities, and aid in global talent recruitment, experts in the sector said.

“Foreign universities entering India will raise educational standards to global levels, encouraging local, private institutions to improve their quality,” R.K Nair, an education sector analyst and director at the private-run Rajadhani Business School, said.

From raising the standard of Indian education to helping students save on costs, education experts are hopeful of increasing accessibility to world-class education for a wider segment of Indian students.

“An added benefit of this initiative would be the expansion of study options available to Indian students. The introduction of foreign universities could open up new disciplines and specializations,” Nair said, adding that “the collaborative potential between Indian and foreign scholars could fuel more meaningful and impactful research endeavors, fostering a culture of high-quality research output within the country.”

Participating in potential exchange programs can also help students gain substantial experience and insights.

“Students may get an opportunity to travel as exchange students. They will end up spending much less compared to a full-time international student, while also getting good exposure,” Ankit Mittal, an alumni of the La-Trobe University in Australia who is currently in India on a sabbatical, said.

Yogesh Kumar, a former joint director in India’s ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship, said, “The government’s plans for academic research and internationalization promote enhanced academic collaboration between Indian and foreign higher educational institutions leading to academic and research excellence in the Indian institutions. This will help provide global exposure to students and internationalization at home.”

Meanwhile, more Australian universities are likely to set up campuses in India.

“The Australian government is hopeful that more Australian universities will establish a presence in India, both in GIFT City and in other locations, which will be facilitated by the regulations developed by UGC,” a spokesman at the Australian High Commission said.

Nair of Rajadhani Business School welcomed the possibility of more such foreign university campuses being set up across the country, especially in Kerala, a state where a growing number of students opt for foreign shores to pursue higher education.

By inviting foreign universities to set up campuses in the southern state, there is hope of not only retaining the state’s bright minds but also satisfying the local demand for high-quality education, Nair added.

John Melvin Konath contributed to the story.

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