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India sets out new rules for academic collaboration

The top 1,000 higher education institutions worldwide are now eligible for academic collaboration with Indian universities, under new regulations announced in May. 

India's regulator has continued to forbid franchise arrangements as well as online or distance learning. Photo: Pexels.

India’s university grants commission has set out updated rules for partnerships between Indian and foreign institutions

India’s university grants commission, which oversees the country’s higher education standards, has set out updated rules for partnerships between Indian and foreign higher education institutions, covering twinning, joint degree, and dual degree programs. 

Institutions will be eligible if they are in the top 1,000 of the QS or THE world university rankings – they will not need to show specific assessment or accreditation ratings.  

“It is perceived that this poses a greater risk around quality and accountability”

But the regulator has continued to forbid franchise arrangements as well as online or distance learning (except as supplementary learning) in what the British Council calls “a lack of confidence” in these models. 

“It is perceived that this poses a greater risk around quality and accountability, and these cannot be compromised with,” the British Council said in a statement. 

The new regulations build on India’s 2020 national education plan, through which the government set out its goal of attracting the world’s top-rated universities to the country and boosting India’s image as an education hub. 

The British Council said that these new measures would “help expand the reach to more young Indian students who aspire to study abroad but could not afford it”.

Janet Ilieva, founder and director at research consultancy Education Insight, said the updates are a “welcome development” that would benefit both students and local institutions.

These partnerships “contribute to staff development and capacity building, they internationalise the local curriculum and promote deeper collaborations beyond the teaching,” Ilieva said. “Often, those contribute to strengthened research links and joint research.”

However, Ilieva noted that while the country has set an “ambitious” gross enrolment target of 50%, it currently only stands at 28% and should therefore consider “further liberalisation of the higher education system”, including distance and online education.

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