India’s publication of draft guidelines for foreign universities setting up branch campuses in the country has raised concerns among academics about possible violations of institutional autonomy.
The standard, which is expected to be finalized following a consultation this month, will clarify the rules for international universities to set up Indian campuses, a change first announced in the 2020 National Education Policy (NEP). They come amid growing demand for higher education in the world’s fastest-growing major economies.
Under the draft, foreign universities must be ranked among the world’s top 500 to set up shop in India, a broader definition than the top 100 originally set in the NEP.
The guidelines state that the quality of education provided by Indian foreign posts should be at par with the institution’s main campus. After approval by the University’s Grants Commission, providers set their own tuition fees, define student selection criteria and appoint faculty.
While many commentators have praised the policy’s “flexibility,” several scholars have disagreed. Times Higher Education He raised concerns about institutional autonomy.
Ashok Kumbamu, an assistant professor of biomedical ethics at the Mayo Clinic and an advocate for academic freedom in India, worries that foreign universities may “compromise their liberal values” to accommodate Hindutva – Hindu nationalist – values.
“I could see the symbiotic relationship between foreign capital and Hindutva ideology. They work together to uproot historically marginalized groups in the Indian education system,” he said.
While others were less pessimistic, they shared their concerns about academic freedom.
“Given India’s record on academic freedom, foreign universities may be reluctant to join their Indian counterparts or set up their own branches in India,” said Philip Altbach, a professor of higher education at Boston College.
Furqan Qamar, secretary-general of the Association of Indian Universities and former professor of management at Jamia Millia Islamia University, agrees.
“Academic autonomy has become a major threat these days,” he said. There are many provisions that prevent the opening of Indian branches “There are many provisions that prevent the autonomy of universities and I think they prevent the best ones,” he said.
Some academics have raised questions about the draft’s phrasing, which prohibits universities from acting in a way that conflicts with state security. [and] public order”.
The language repeats an earlier, academically oriented rule phrase, says Professor Catherine Adney of the University of Nottingham, who has studied meteorite beliefs in South Asia. In the year In 2021, India introduced a law requiring professors and administrators to get prior permission from the foreign ministry to hold international conferences related to India’s security or internal affairs – to stifle any dissenting views, critics said.
But not everyone is worried about the new guidelines.
Shantanu Roy, professor of chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology and former academic dean, said the language on government security is “the right level.”
“I don’t think it’s right to speculate on academic freedom issues. [foreign] Institutions.
Eldo Mathews, deputy adviser in the international cooperation division at the National Institute of Education Planning and Management in New Delhi, is skeptical that academic freedom will eventually force foreign universities to reconsider their Indian branch plans.
“Many foreign universities are operating in countries like China, UAE, Kuwait. [and] Qatar,” he said.