India: A Green Light For Foreign Universities?

British High Commission New Delhi

September 2013


There are plans to allow foreign universities to set up campuses and award degrees in India. This is a positive signal, which could eventually offer big opportunities for UK institutions. But there are conditions.


Pallam Raju, Minister of Human Resource Development, has said he intends to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India and award foreign degrees, without a local partner.  He plans to do this by administrative measures (the universities would register as companies under the current Companies Act) rather than by passing new legislation (a bill to allow foreign universities to establish themselves here has been in parliament for several years).

There are conditions. Foreign universities would have to rank among the world’s top 400; have existed for at least 20 years; operate on a not-for-profit basis; offer programmes of quality comparable to those at their home campuses; register with the University Grants Commission, who will regulate the new arrangements; and deposit a 250m rupee bond (£2.5 million) as surety against any violation of the rules.  A final decision is still awaited.

Several of the top-ranking universities, including Cambridge, have already said they will not open campuses here. Others will want to examine the conditions.  The Education Ministry nevertheless say that 20 foreign universities – mostly from the US – have already expressed their desire to come.

Many foreign universities have already found other ways into this huge market, however.  There are already over 600 foreign education providers in India, of which 440 do so from their home campuses while nearly 200 are involved in some sort of twinning arrangement. Some – such as Lancaster and De Montfort – already offer UK courses hosted by an Indian partner. Many other UK universities are deepening their links with Indian counterparts through research collaborations and exchange of faculty and students. Cambridge already has over 300 partnerships of different kinds in India. The UK online offering is growing.


The move, if approved, will send a positive signal about India’s long term intentions. India aspires to create over 1500 new universities and 40 million new university places by 2020, which won’t be possible without considerable foreign and private support. There are many potential rewards from setting up campuses here, but making a quick return will not be one of them. Our advice to UK universities interested in setting up here is to come and do their homework, build local relationships, and be prepared for a long haul.


The purpose of the FCO Country Update(s) for Business (”the Report”) prepared by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is to provide information and related comment to help recipients form their own judgments about making business decisions as to whether to invest or operate in a particular country. The Report’s contents were believed (at the time that the Report was prepared) to be reliable, but no representations or warranties, express or implied, are made or given by UKTI or its parent Departments (the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)) as to the accuracy of the Report, its completeness or its suitability for any purpose. In particular, none of the Report’s contents should be construed as advice or solicitation to purchase or sell securities, commodities or any other form of financial instrument. No liability is accepted by UKTI, the FCO or BIS for any loss or damage (whether consequential or otherwise) which may arise out of or in connection with the Report.

Countries: India
Export Action Plan