Now Foreign Higher Education Institutes Can Establish Campus In India - Here’s How!

22 Dec 2023
higher education ERP

As per the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), the University Grants Commission (UGC) will now allow foreign higher education institutes (FEIs) to set up campuses in India. This initiative is aimed at providing a global dimension to higher education in India. These regulations describe the criteria and conditions for foreign HEIs to operate their campus in the country.

The criteria are in line with the UGC’s aim to ensure that foreign institutions provide the same quality of education and infrastructure at Indian campuses as they do in their base country.

An FEI needs to understand the rules and regulations dictating the new campus policy in India. This is essential to ensure sound long-term strategy and setting goals for the success of the new campus in the country.

The UGC has published a long detailed list of the regulations regarding this decision. To make things easier, we have given below some key points of the new UGC policy for setting up foreign HEI campuses in India.

New UGC policy

1. Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility is the first criterion for foreign HEIs to check before setting up a campus in India. According to the guidelines by UGC, any FEI that has secured a place in the global ranking of the top 500 educational institutions for the overall category is eligible to apply. However, this aspect is decided and altered by the UGC frequently. So, it is recommended to check the latest ranking criteria as set by the Commission before applying for a campus under the new policy.

Besides this, any FEI that ranks in the global top 500 in the subject-wise category is also eligible to apply. Lastly, an FEI that shows outstanding expertise in a particular field of education also qualifies under the regulations. However, this aspect is also determined by the UGC and is likely to be changed from time to time.

Apart from this, the eligibility criteria are quite broad and, as such, allow most foreign-based institutes of higher education to open campuses in India.

2. Entity Type

There are multiple aspects to consider when deciding the type of entity form eligible for opening campuses in India as the UGC does not describe a particular type of entity.

The regulations dictate only that the FEI should comply with essential Indian education laws, such as FEMA and FCRA. The FEIs should also submit annual audit reports to the UGC to confirm their compliance with state laws. Additionally, the regulations offer structuring flexibility by also allowing FEIs to set up campuses in the country if they form joint ventures with Indian companies and higher education institutes.

Thanks to this regulation, FEIs have several options to set up campuses in India. Let us look at the top two choices -

Establish Indian Entity

FEIs can choose to establish a new entity in India and apply through it. This can be either a non-profit organization or a for-profit institution. However, setting up a non-profit entity can create issues in receiving contributions from abroad. If the charter documents of the FEI designate the entity in India as a non-profit organization, then it can choose to receive no dividends and no repatriation and resolve these issues.

Form Joint Venture

FEIs can also choose to establish a joint venture with an Indian entity to set up a campus for education in the country. However, the FEI will need to have major stakes in the joint venture to become eligible under the regulations. For this, FEIs can choose to partner with Ed-Tech platforms, real estate companies, and other such service providers.

Additionally, the UGC also allows FEIs to form joint ventures with Indian HEIs. However, the Indian HEI needs to be registered as a non-profit entity, educational society, or trust in India. Essentially, the UGC regulations require the foreign HEI to have control over decisions related to education and campus activities.

Still, the UGC regulations regarding FEIs forming joint ventures with Indian HEIs to set up a campus in India are unclear, and likely to change with time.

3. Courses & Curriculum

The UGC regulations provide significant details on the type of courses and curriculum that foreign institutions of higher education need to provide at their Indian campuses.

Mainly, the FEI needs to offer the same courses at the Indian campuses that they offer in their original country campus. The FEI needs to ensure that the syllabus, teaching methods, evaluation techniques, and other educational aspects are the same for Indian campuses and the original campus abroad. If the FEI wishes to introduce a new course of curriculum they will need to get prior approval from the UGC.

This means that the FEIs cannot offer new or customized courses in their India-based campuses, as per the latest regulations. This aspect is likely to change in the future, seeing the evolving global education requirements.

In addition, FEIs seeking to offer research, certification, and other similar programs, apart from diploma and degree courses, at any level of education will need to get approval from the UGC first. This regulation is applicable for graduate, post-graduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral levels of education in India.

However, this regulation does not restrict the FEI from offering a new course and curriculum through online education programs. They can do this from abroad or by collaborating with Indian higher education institutions or platforms. It is acceptable for FEIs to offer new courses to Indian students through dual or joint degree partnerships with Indian HEIs, but this needs to be done within the existing educational regulations in India.

What Is Curriculum Mapping? Importance, Strategies & Examples of Curriculum Mapping

4. Campus & Infrastructure

Foreign higher education institutions also need to consider carefully before choosing the location of their campus in India and its overall educational infrastructure. India has several central and state-specific regulations regarding using land for setting up educational institutions. Apart from this, there are numerous other rules and regulations from statutory agencies to consider, such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), etc.

The UGC regulations do not describe specific norms for minimum requirements for land acquisition or infrastructure development. However, state laws, statutory bodies, and the UGC do provide some infrastructural requirements. The UGC regulations are focused heavily on the campus location and infrastructure quality as factors for approving FEI applications for a campus in India.

Here are a few tips that an FEI should consider when planning to set up a campus in India -

  • Clarify the rules of UGC, state laws, and any other relevant regulatory bodies regarding FEI operations in India.
  • Choose campus locations based on favorable factors, such as in demarcated zones for education institutes. This makes it easier to comply with state regulations easily and efficiently.
  • Consider letting the Indian joint venture partner handle land acquisition and infrastructure development. This will help to ease the capital expenditure for the FEI.

5. Faculty & Staff

The UGC regulations regarding faculty selection are quite lenient right now. The FEIs are allowed to recruit teaching staff from abroad and India. However, the qualifications and proficiency of the teaching staff selected from India should be comparable with the faculty at the FEI home country campus. Additionally, the faculty hired from abroad should spend at least a semester teaching at the Indian campus.

6. Application Process

Once the basic rules are followed the FEI will need to draft the application carefully. They should ensure that all supporting documents that need to be submitted are attached to the application. This is necessary to make a strong case for the application and to ensure smooth evaluation and prompt approval from the UGC.

The evaluation and approval process for this is simpler and time-bound. This means that applicant FEIs can expect to receive approval from the UGC for establishing a campus in India within a short time. This ensures that foreign HEI administrators and decision-makers do not have to worry about unexpected delays in the application process.

You can find details of the application process and the documents that need to be attached, at the official link here .


All in all, the overall approach of the UGC is favorable for allowing foreign higher education institutes to open campuses in India. The rules and regulations for eligibility are not too complicated and the application process is straightforward. This move by the UGC is expected to boost the globalization of education in India through quality teaching and higher proficiency and skill development. This process can be made more efficient by integrating higher education ERP to automate the application and documentation process, similar to accreditation.

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Gurudev Somani Author :

Gurudev Somani,

Academic Consultant

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