TED NewsDesk, New Delhi: The Indian higher education sector is abuzz after the Union Cabinet approved the New Education Policy (NEP), 2020. Paving the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in the country is one of the major announcements made in the policy.
In recent times, transnational, cross-border, offshore, and borderless higher education have become trendy terms—particularly from the year 2000 onwards when the phenomenon of mobility in higher education took shape and moved from people (students, faculty, scholars) to programme (twinning, franchise, virtual) to provider (branch campus) mobility, and most recently, to the concerted development of education hubs.
Change in the global market economy has forced many nations to allow foreign providers in different ways. It is crucial to realise that while foreign investment is one possible remedy, it is not a panacea for the current challenges India’s higher education sector is facing.
India remains a classic case of confusion and complexity for Transnational Education (TNE), and a proper foreign policy for higher education continues to be the Achilles’ heel for Indian policymakers. Almost up to the ’90s, India operated virtually as a closed economy and understandably has been reluctant about the entry of international providers in the education sector.
Lack of regulatory frameworks, complex FDI policy, inability to award their degree, burdensome evaluation process have demotivated the foreign providers in the regulated higher education sector (university, colleges), and they are limited mostly to the unregulated sector like vocational and distance learning education.
The new NEP says, “A legislative framework facilitating such entry (of foreign universities) will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.” With this new policy reform, many are riding on a wave of optimism that now it would be possible to get quality education as global universities will establish their branch campuses in India.
On the other hand, some believe that this will increase inequality by increasing the cost of education and will create challenges for local institutes as foreign providers will take unfair advantage of the market. The policy proposal has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. This is an effect of globalisation which comprises complex processes with various national and international tendencies. Some of them are to some extent confluent and synergetic, while others are partially antagonistic, contradictory, or oppositional and thus, cannot be analysed in absolute terms.