Niti Aayog clears plan for foreign varsities in India

PMO approves think tank's proposal

Niti Aayog clears plan for foreign varsities in India

Niti Aayog, the Centre’s policy think tank, has cleared the decks for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

Concluding months of inter-ministerial consultations on the matter, it has suggested to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to go ahead with the long-pending proposal.

“Niti Aayog has cleared the proposal and has suggested three different routes to facilitate the establishment of foreign university campuses in the country,” official sources said.

The proposal has already been approved by the Prime Minister’s Office, the sources added.

The Aayog has suggested to the ministry to either bring in new legislation to regulate the entry and operation of foreign university campuses in India under the University Grants Commission (UGC) or amend the UGC Act of 1956 and its regulations to allow the establishment and operation of foreign universities as deemed institutions in the country.

It has also advised the ministry to examine if the establishment and operation of foreign university campuses in the country could be facilitated by tweaking the existing regulations of the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education, which provide for the operation of foreign universities only under a twinning arrangement with higher educational institutions in India.

Over 600 foreign educational institutions are currently operating in the country under a collaborative arrangement with the higher educational institutions in the country. India does not have any law to provide for the establishment and operation of foreign university campuses.

The ministry will now work on the Niti Aayog’s suggestions, the sources said.

Governments in the past have made futile attempts to set up campuses of foreign universities in the country.

As a first step, a bill was drafted in 1995 to facilitate entry of foreign universities under a legal framework. But, it did not take off. Another attempt was made in 2005-06, but the draft legislation could not even get the approval of the Cabinet.

During the erstwhile regime of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the HRD Ministry, under senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, brought in the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010. The bill, however, failed to pass muster in Parliament and eventually lapsed in 2014 with the completion of the five-year term of the UPA-II government.

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