It comes just a month after it was announced that India was drafting regulations for universities on setting up overseas campuses in Africa and Asia.
The university has partnered with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to open the branch in Lake Victoria city of Jinja, in response to what it says is high demand for forensic science programmes by African students.
It marks a major step forward in India’s quest for using TNE as part of its internationalisation strategy.
The programs were in particularly high demand from African students on Indian government scholarships, indicating a high chance of acceptance of the university on the continent, officials from both countries have stated.
In what seems to be government-to-government deal, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar presided over the inauguration of the campus on April 12, in an event attended by high level delegations.
“This is the first foreign campus of the NFSU. Even more important, it is actually the first time a government university of India is opening a campus anywhere abroad in the world,” Indian media quotes the minister saying.
NFSU’s decision is a milestone for Uganda and for the India-Uganda relationship, and example of “practical cooperation between the two nations”.
It was also a fulfilment of “a personal vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, and its international footprint is a matter of “particular satisfaction”, the minister explained.
The actualisation of the Ugandan campus is the culmination of months of lobbying and negotiations, that was reportedly hastened by a letter by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to Modi.
“This is the first foreign campus of the NFSU”
Last month, India’s University Grants Commission said it was encouraging institutions to set up campuses abroad, identifying African countries, the Gulf region and Asian countries of Thailand and Vietnam as fertile grounds.
The venture into TNE is part of the country’s internationalisation strategy that is attempting to diversify from recruiting students in strategic foreign markets.
The UGC has expressed confidence that TNE would work owing to the huge presence of the Indian diaspora population in Africa and Asia.
Around 15,000 African students were enrolled in Indian universities in 2021, according to the Association of African Students in India, with 4300 of them coming from Sudan, Nigeria and Tanzania.
On the other hand, the number of overseas students enrolled in Indian higher education institutions fell by 2.6% in the last two years from 49,348 in 2019/20 to 48,035 in 2020/21 according to The Indian Express, quoting data by All India Survey on Higher Education.
India has been stepping up efforts to internationalise its education, especially since the launch of the National Education Policy in 2020. The January release of draft regulations to allow international universities to set up in the country is the latest.