UK sector urged not to wait for India to pass foreign campus bill

British Council urges universities to press ahead with learning partnerships on the sub-continent

February 13, 2014

Source: Alamy

Extra capacity: India aims to add an extra 40 million university places by 2020

British universities should press ahead with working with Indian institutions to help them improve their teaching and research rather than waiting for the legal situation around foreign campuses to be resolved, a British Council report argues.

The Foreign Education Providers bill, proposed in 2010 to regulate foreign universities in India, is “unlikely to be passed in the short to medium term”, Engaging with India: The future of higher education and opportunities for international cooperation says.

Released on 13 February, the report draws on more than 50 interviews with Indian academics, university leaders and policymakers, who were questioned about the ways in which they would like to collaborate with the UK.

Their highest priority was to establish links with UK institutions to improve teaching and learning, the report found. “Institutions in India want partners which will send students and faculty to India; there is less interest in, and deep frustration over, the one-way movement of students to the UK,” it says.

The top-tier Indian universities, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, do not lack resources, the report says. However, research budgets are often underspent owing to “a lack of good quality research proposals, so here international collaboration can help”.

India aims to add an extra 40 million university places by 2020, the report says, by which time it will have a larger tertiary education age population than China. The scale of the demand for higher education in India and government reforms present the “largest opportunity for international higher education institutions and education businesses in the world”, it adds.

Despite legislative deadlock over the Foreign Education Providers bill, in September last year the Indian government announced that it would allow foreign universities to set up campuses and offer degrees.

But these outposts reportedly cannot be profit-making; must be set up by a university that features in the top 400 of one of the major global university rankings; and their degrees must be separately recognised if a student wants to apply for a government job.

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