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Are foreign universities finally coming to India?

universities in India
India has a new National Education Policy after over 20 years. Source: Prakash Singh/AFP

We may soon see the first international universities in India, as the country’s newly-minted National Education Policy (NEP) comes into effect.

The NEP outlines a 20-year blueprint to transform India’s higher education sector. It hopes to double higher education capacity and create 35 million more places for university students. It will also see a restructuring of higher education institutions into research universities, teaching universities, and colleges, in line with delivering a skills-oriented education.

After a decade of ideation, this could be the turning point for global universities in India; the NEP wants to facilitate the top 100 universities in the world to open and operate domestically.

Here’s what we know so far.

universities in India

Could future student communities at Indian universities become more diverse? Source: Shutterstock

We may finally see branch universities in India

According to the NEP, India will set up a legislative framework to guide the entry of foreign universities into India. This will include certain exemptions for foreign providers, hoping to attract them to open branch campuses in one of the region’s largest education markets.

Critics are cautiously optimistic. Professor Craig Jeffrey, director of the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne told Times Higher Education that while there were discussions about moving global universities into India as early as the 2010s, “no foreign institutions seemed interested, so any legislative change may not lead to change”.

“If they do materialise, any benefits from these campuses will not be the increase in places but as demonstration sites and exemplars of institutions that combine research and teaching and can showcase different models of teaching and learning,” added Alan Ruby, senior fellow at the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vocational training will enter mainstream education

Aside from its implications for foreign universities, the NEP also heralds vocational courses early in the educational journey.

ODM Public School principal Satyabrata Minaketan told Times of India, “Providing opportunities to students right from school level to skill themselves through vocational courses will finally provide real education.”

universities in India

Vocational training will receive more emphasis under the new education blueprint. Source: Shutterstock

Additionally, creative and arts education will play a greater role in universities in India. For example, the four-year multidisciplinary bachelor’s programme will be reintroduced, as well as greater flexibility in master’s offerings.

India will set up independent bodies to aid transformation

The Higher Education Commission of India will replace the University Grants Commission and All India Council for Technical Education. Its role? Consolidate councils to focus on regulation, accreditation, funding, and graduate skills.

Besides that, an independent National Research Foundation is also in the works. It will provide research funding and coordinate government grants, acting as a one-stop centre for higher education research in the country.

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