UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 25 May 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the prospects and challenges associated with foreign collaboration in higher education.

Syllabus: GS-II Education, Foreign collaborations, Soft power

Higher education collaboration:

  • The wide-ranging National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 promises higher education reforms in many areas, and internationalisation is prominent among them.
    • Among the underlying ideas is to strengthen India’s “soft power” through higher education collaboration, bringing new ideas and institutions from abroad to stimulate reform and show “best practice”, and in general to ensure that Indian higher education, for the first time, is a global player.
  • Recent visit of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s to the innovative Gujarat Biotechnology University and strengthening the United Kingdom-India academic collaboration.
    • The Gujarat Biotechnology University is an example for new models of international academic partnerships emerging in India.
  • Currently, India does not allow the entry and the operation of foreign university branch campuses.
    • The NEP 2020 recommended allowing foreign universities ranked in the “top 100” category to operate in India .
    • In February 2022, Finance Minister, announced that “world-class foreign universities and institutions would be allowed in the planned business district in Gujarat’s GIFT City” and they would be free from domestic regulations to facilitate availability of high-end human resources.
    • University Grants Commission (UGC) formed a committee to draft regulations to allow foreign institutions in the “top 500” category to establish campuses in India — realising that more flexibility was needed.
  • Globally, branch campuses, of which there are around 300 now, provide a mixed picture.
    • Many are aimed at making money for the sponsoring university — and this is not what India wants.
    • And some have proved to be unstable. A recent example in this regard is the ending of the decade-long partner- ship between Yale University and the National University of Singapore in running the Yale-NUS College in Singapore. 

Practical Challenges:

  • On the positive side, India is seen around the world as an important country and an emerging higher education power.
    • It is the world’s second largest “exporter” of students, with 4,61,792 students studying abroad (according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics). And India has the world’s second largest higher education system.
  • Foreign countries and universities will be eager to establish a “beach-head” in India and interested in providing opportunities for home campus students to learn about Indian business, society, and culture to participate in growing trade and other relations.
  • Many of those top universities are already fully engaged overseas and would likely require incentives to set up in India.
  • Further, there are smaller but highly regarded universities outside the ‘top 500’ category that might be more interested.
  • What is most important is to prevent profit-seekers from entering the Indian market and to encourage foreign institutions with innovative educational ideas and a long-term commitment.

Way Ahead:

  • If bureaucratic hurdles cannot be drastically cut, there will be no success in attracting branch campuses.
  • In addition, a recent study underlined the fact that apart from allowing home institutions to repatriate surplus funds after tax clearance, a new accreditation mechanism, flexible visa rules for foreign students and faculty, financial incentives to offer programmes in priority areas should also be considered. 

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