The Booming Indian Education Sector: Implementation of the Foreign Academic Collaboration Regulation by the UGC

Posted On - 13 May, 2022 • By - Souvik Ganguly

The India Brand Equity Foundation, a trust established by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India (GOI) has reported[1] that, India has the largest population in the world in the age bracket of 5-24 with 580 million people and has over 250 million school-going students. These numbers are certainly attractive taking into account the opportunity it presents to various stakeholders in the education sector.

The GOI is taking continuous initiatives to support the education sector. The National Policy on Education was framed in 1986 (NPE 1986) and modified in 1992. Later, GOI gave renewed vision to the education sector with the roll-out of the National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP 2020) and replaced the 34 year old NPE 1986. NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035, with the focus to add 35 million new seats to higher education institutions.

On 2 May 2022, the University Grants Commission (UGC) considering the vision laid in NEP 2020, published the University Grants Commission (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Twinning, Joint Degree, and Dual Degree Programmes) Regulations, 2022 (Regulations). The Regulations apply to Indian Higher Education Institutions (Indian Institution) intending to collaborate with Foreign Higher Education Institutions (Foreign Institution) and vice versa.

The Regulations facilitate the following academic activities: (1) twinning program; (2) joint degree program; and (3) dual degree program. Certain key details of the said programs have been detailed below:

Name of the Program Credit allocation between the Indian Institution and Foreign Institution Degree awarding institution
Twinning Students shall earn not more than 30 percent of the total credits from Foreign Institution. Indian Institution will award the degree.
Joint degree Students shall earn at least 30 percent of the total credits from each of the Indian Institution and Foreign Institution. One common degree by both Indian Institution and Foreign Institution will be awarded.
Dual degree Students shall earn at least 30 percent of total credits from the Indian Institution. Separate degrees by both Indian Institution and Foreign Institution will be awarded

Credits to be earned by the Indian students from the Foreign Institution and credits earned by the foreign students from Indian Institutions shall be obtained through a regular classroom environment with face-to-face interaction between the teacher and the student.

Indian Institutions shall ensure that the credit earned by the student from the Foreign Institution shall not be from overlapping course contents/ curriculum.

Important conditions for collaboration are that the Indian Institution shall have to enter a written Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or Agreement with its partner Foreign Institution for collaboration. The MoU or Agreement must categorically include (a) the purposes and related provisions of collaboration; (b) provisions related to student obligations; (c) tuition fees and other financial arrangements; (d) intellectual property rights; (e) student’s attendance patterns; (f) duration of stay for the study programme in both the higher education institutions; (g) joint supervision arrangements; (h) language of thesis and examinations; (i) admission and evaluation process; and (j) graduation procedures, wherever applicable.

Wherever foreign exchange is involved, the Indian Institution and Foreign Institution, shall abide by and comply with the relevant regulations, norms, notifications, and instructions issued by the Reserve Bank of India and the GOI from time to time.

Academic collaboration between Indian Institutions and Foreign Institutions will be permitted through two modes i.e., (1) Automatic mode; and (2) Approval mode. Any Indian Institution accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a minimum score of 3.01 on a 4-point scale (at the time of application) or top 100 in the university category of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) or which figures in the top 1000 of Times Higher Education or QS World University ranking at the time of application, can apply under the automatic route. Similarly, a Foreign Institution figuring in the top 1000 of Times Higher Education or QS World University ranking (at the time of application) can only apply under the automatic route. On verification of the eligibility criteria set in the Regulations, the approval will be automatically granted without any further processing.

 As per the Regulations, the Indian Institution must have an office for international affairs which shall function as a single point of contact and will be responsible for carrying out all collaborative activities.

 We understand that with this regulatory development, there is an opportunity for reputed global educational institutions to collaborate with Indian universities and impart quality education to Indian students at a much lower cost. This is a welcome step in attracting global institutions to collaborate with Indian Institutions and create a model which may benefit both the Indian student and educational institutions in India and abroad.

Author: Souvik Ganguly 

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