The plan to internationalise Indian higher education institutes by allowing them to set up campuses abroad could see the United States as the first destination, with President Joe Biden having indicated a willingness to expand the education system.
One of the proposals in the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, was allowing Indian educational institutes (Institutes of Eminence or IoE) to set up campuses abroad.
Here, the Education Ministry has sought international campus plans from the IoEs, including Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Indian Institute of Science (IIsc) Bangalore, Jadavpur University Kolkata, IIT Bombay and IIT Madras.
There are 16 IoEs including those named above, along with IIT Madras, Delhi University, Vellore Institute of Technology, Shiv Nadar University and Banaras Hindu University and others.
Sources said that while the United States was chosen as a destination to expand campuses, it was felt that the former US government under Donald Trump would not agree to the proposal.
“President Joe Biden is more receptive to expansion of the higher education sector in the US and in fact has also stated that education is on the top agenda under his government. Hence, the US is being reconsidered as a priority destination,” said the director of an IoE.
As a starter, the IoEs that set up campuses in the US could also provide some special exchange programmes between India and the United States. Further, students of colour would also be given special scholarships during admissions.
“While the programme structures are still at a discussion stage, the idea is that the campuses set up by Indian institutes in the US should be attractive enough. So, the fee will be lower than the traditional institutes there and students will also get a chance to visit India and other Asian markets as part of their practical training,” said the vice chancellor of an IoE.
Under the Education Ministry’s plan, IoEs will have the freedom to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction. Being an IoE would give these institutes the freedom to have their own transparent, merit-based system for admissions.
Tie-ups may be another route. For example, National University of Singapore has tied up with Yale University for a Yale NUS campus. Similarly, France-headquartered INSEAD also has a campus in North America.
President Joe Biden has stated that he plans to increase grants for new and existing higher education institutes to improve graduation rates and reduce income disparities. Here, any educational institute helping improve career outcomes for low-income students, students of colour, first-generation students, and students with disabilities will be provided funding.
He had said that as President, he would establish an innovation competitive grant fund for higher institutions, giving them additional funds to invest in increasing graduation rates and closing ethnic, racial, and income disparities.
Apart from the United States, where the Indian institutes will target NRIs and local students, West Asia is another destination on the list.
“Setting up campuses in West Asia will offer us an opportunity to cater to the Indian diaspora in the region. Areas like engineering and medicine have a lot of scope for employment opportunities there, so students would be able to get access to skilled courses from reputed institutes like IITs locally,” said the professor and head of international relations at an IIT.
IoEs that are government-funded will get additional funding up to Rs 1,000 crore. These funds could be used for international expansion or to set up a temporary campus.