'We are receiving a steady stream of interest from well-established foreign universities.'
Foreign universities in Australia and the United Kingdom are beginning to respond to India's push for internationalisation under the National Education Policy (NEP) by exploring new opportunities here.
One of the largest delegations of higher education leaders from the UK was on a visit to India recently.
Comprising representatives from the Universities UK International, the UK department for education and UK department for international trade, the delegation met Indian officials, policymakers and university officials from 10 Indian states to discuss partnerships and collaborations that meet the NEP's vision of internationalisation of higher education institutions.
Welcoming the delegation, University Grants Commission Joint Secretary Manju Singh said the focus of the meeting was on increasing two-way mobility of students and faculty as well as institutional mobility between the two nations.
"We invite the UK higher education institutions to work with their Indian counterparts to offer twinning, joint degree and dual degree programmes as well as explore the option of setting up campuses in GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City)," Singh said.
On its part, following a recent gazette notification from the central government, GIFT City is looking to welcome foreign universities soon to India's only operational International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Gandhinagar.
The gazette notification will recognise courses offered in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics by foreign universities or institutions in the IFSC as financial services.
Tapan Ray, MD and Group CEO of GIFT City, welcomed the Centre's following the Union Budget this year to allow foreign universities in GIFT IFSC. "We are receiving a steady stream of interest from well-established foreign universities. The ecosystem of GIFT IFSC and the adjacent knowledge corridor makes it a more compelling case."
According to sources, the financial centre is in talks with universities from the US, UK, Australia and Singapore for offering courses from the IFSC.
Similarly, the University of Queensland is planning a senior executive mission to New Delhi in August. It will be the first since 2019, as COVID-19 hampered international travel.
According to University of Queensland, the programme is yet to be finalised, but meetings have been requested to discuss opportunities including increased collaboration and student mobility between the two countries.
"The mission will also visit the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, with which the University of Queensland has a deep and ongoing partnership, particularly in relation to joint PhDs," a University of Queensland spokesperson told Business Standard.
"The flagship partnership enrolled its first cohort in January 2019, and currently has 85 enrolled students undertaking research in multi-disciplinary areas. The academy is now calling for applications for its eighth intake commencing from July 2022, with 42 projects currently advertised," the spokesperson added.
While foreign universities like Deakin and University of Queensland already have presence in India through some form of institutional partnerships, the internationalisation push under NEP and other factors have necessitated further exploration.
"We have not been approached by the Indian government as yet. However, we are in talks with the UGC about various aspects of higher education and internationalisation of higher education in line with NEP 2020 and bilateral education exchange in light of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement signed between the two countries," a Deakin University spokesperson told Business Standard.
"We are open to exploring opportunities, but our current focus is on building transnational partnerships with premier institutes in India," the spookesperson added.
Of additional interest for varsities from the UK is last May's announcement by the two countries of the UK-India Roadmap 2030 that provides a framework for bilateral relations across several key areas.
As part of the roadmap, migration and mobility partnership will seek to agree on mutual recognition of higher education qualifications and facilitate two-way mobility of students, teachers and professionals.
While foreign universities are still non-committal on setting up campuses here, more delegations of higher education experts are expected to visit India to explore possibilities accorded by the NEP.
The existing partnerships have also helped these varsities with Indian student enrolments.