The National Education Policy aims to promote India as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable costs. To this end it seeks to woo the top world’s top universities into setting up campuses in India. The benefits India and its students stand to gain are many
If all goes to plan, Indian students will no longer need to go overseas for higher studies. On the contrary, India may well become an attractive destination for foreign students.
The National Education Policy (NEP) that was approved by the Union Cabinet on July 29 places emphasis on making India an attractive study destination. NEP 2020 says that India will be promoted as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable costs. Currently, Indian students spend almost Rs 40,000 crore a year studying abroad.
A part of the new policy is aimed at allowing the top 100 universities of the world to set up campuses in India. A legislative framework will also be initiated to give a special dispensation to these institutes.
The ultimate aim is to ensure that the 100,000-200,000 Indian students who go abroad to study each year stay in India.
And industry experts are of the view that conducive policies to allow entry of foreign universities would make this feasible.
Why India is an attractive destination
Narayanan Ramaswamy, Partner and Sector Head – Education and Skill Development, KPMG in India, told Moneycontrol that the student base international institutes would get up from setting up shop in India would be an attraction.
“When Dubai opened up, a lot of marquee institutions set up campuses there. The same is the case with China. India is a far better option for global educational institutions,” he added.
The NEP 2020 policy said that high-performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, and similarly, select universities will be facilitated to operate in India.
The policy has also said that credits acquired in these foreign universities will be permitted, and will be counted for the award of a degree.
While it is unlikely that elite institutes such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University and University of Oxford would be keen to set up campuses in India (they do not have branches outside their home location), almost 15 institutes from Europe and South-East Asia have evinced interest in setting up campuses in India.
Availability of real estate at affordable rates and complete autonomy would be the key to get international students to India, according to academicians. This means that the higher education regulator that will be set up may not govern foreign university campuses in India since these universities have their own governing body regulations across the world.
Academic quality will be crucial
Ramaswamy is of the view that if the same quality of academics and faculty is brought to India, students would definitely stay back.
“Look at the Ashoka (University) model. When Ashoka University was set up, a lot of students decided to stay back since they were able to get a similar experience in India. My belief is that we shouldn’t disturb the core flavour of the global universities willing to open campuses in India. Once they do, students will also stay back,” he added.
Currently, almost 1 million Indian students are estimated to be studying across universities in the US, the UK, Europe, Australia and parts of South-East Asia. This is across undergraduate and post-graduate programmes.
Almost Rs 40,000 crore is spent per annum by students studying abroad. Clearly, the saving on foreign exchange will be considerable if the policy bears fruit.
However, some clarity is still awaited on which are the institutes will be chosen and under what circumstances.
Sumeet Jain, Co-founder and Higher Education expert at study abroad platform Yocket, said it will be crucial to see how easy it is for the universities to set up in India. “Many universities would like to open up options where they can provide students with multiple campus courses. This could make studying in foreign universities more accessible. I hope there are some checks and balances to ensure these universities ensure quality in India,” he added.This is not the first time that the government is proposing the entry of foreign institutions through an India campus. The Foreign Educational (Regulations of Entry and Operations) Bill 2010 proposed to allow international institutes to enter India and set up campuses in the country. However, it has been a long wait since then because lawmakers could not arrive at a consensus on the model.