New Delhi: Minister of State for Education Subhas Sarkar told Parliament Monday that a French institute and an Italian institute have expressed interest in establishing campuses in India.
Sarkar was responding to a written question in the Lok Sabha about the interest shown by foreign universities in setting up campuses in the country.
Under the new National Education Policy announced in 2020, the government had allowed foreign institutions to establish campuses in India. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had also announced in this year’s Union Budget that the Centre will allow the setting up of world class foreign universities in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT).
“Ministry of External Affairs has informed that French side has expressed interest in setting up a university campus for higher education courses in India. Further, Istituto Marangoni (Italy) had expressed interest to establish a foreign, fully independent higher education institute of fashion and design in India,” Sarkar said.
While Istituto Marangoni is a private school of fashion and design based in Milan, Sarkar didn’t share any information about the French institute.
“International campuses will give students from India and neighbouring countries exposure to quality education of global standards,” Sarkar added.
This is the first time the government has provided the name of any foreign academy that has expressed interest in opening a campus. A survey conducted among some foreign universities had also shown a lack of enthusiasm about the prospect of opening campuses here.
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Govt approval, general acceptance challenges
Between December 2020 and February 2021, a survey was conducted by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) among “top universities” in the world, to know their interest in establishing a campus in India.
Titled ‘Establishing International Branch Campuses’, the survey found not many takers for the government’s offer to international institutes to open campuses in India.
According to the survey report, accessed by ThePrint, of the 43 universities from 11 countries that participated, only eight said they were interested in opening campuses in India. Of these, five were from the United States and one each from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
Respondents who said they were “not interested” in setting up a university campus in India said government approvals and regulation of fees was a problem.
“Setting up a campus in India is attractive, but comes with many challenges. First and foremost is the general approval from the government and general acceptance of this from the general public,” read a response mentioned in the report.
“In India, education is inclusive and should be accessible for all, keeping this in mind it is difficult to have a university with a higher cost of tuition operating in India without a backlash from the society.”
An official in the education ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity agreed that developing trust in foreign universities is a big challenge and just the fact that the government regulations will support them is something they have to believe. “With the GIFT city announcement and government easing regulations to allow foreign universities, things should look up,” he said.
While announcing the setting up of international institutions in GIFT City in her Budget speech, Sitharaman had said, “World-class foreign universities and institutions will be allowed in the GIFT City to offer courses in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics free from domestic regulations, except those by IFSCA (International Financial Services Centres Authority).”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
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