Attracting Foreign Universities to India: Lessons from Successful Models

A new policy allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India was recently announced by the Indian government. This action is seen as a step in the right direction to strengthen the nation’s already vibrant and expanding higher education sector (Sharma, K. ,2023).

As India seeks to expand and improve its higher education sector, it can benefit from the experiences of other countries that have effectively established foreign universities on their soil. One good example is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has been able to get a number of well-known foreign universities to set up campuses there by offering tax breaks, making it easier to get visas, and creating a friendly regulatory environment. New York University, the Sorbonne-Paris, and the University of Wollongong and many more are among the universities that have a presence in the United Arab Emirates ( Fiona McKenzie,2023).

The UAE has been successful in accomplishing this by providing numerous incentives to international universities. These include tax breaks, visa relaxation, and a supportive regulatory climate. In addition, the United Arab Emirates has made considerable investments in infrastructure and amenities to position itself as a preferred location for international higher education institutions.

Another example is China, which has recently emerged as a popular destination for international universities. This is a result of both government initiatives to draw in international universities and the nation’s rapidly growing economy. The establishment of free trade zones, like the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which provides international universities with lax regulations and a welcoming atmosphere, is one such measure(Dr. Chang Xiaolin ,2017).

Drawing on the successes of the UAE and China, India has the potential to establish a thriving international higher education landscape by providing comparable incentives and support to foreign universities. Tax breaks, easier visa rules, and a supportive regulatory environment are all things that could be done to encourage foreign institutions to set up campuses in the country. Furthermore, investments in infrastructure and facilities will be critical in attracting global universities.

The creation of transnational universities is another important aspect that the Indian government should consider when attempting to attract foreign universities. Transnational universities are those that have a presence in numerous countries, usually through partnerships or branch campuses. These universities provide learners with an opportunity to study abroad and develop a distinctive global viewpoint.

The Sino-foreign joint university, a collaboration between a foreign university and a Chinese university, is an illustration of a transnational university. Through these collaborations, foreign universities have been able to create campuses in China and Chinese students now have access to top-notch education (CGTN NEWS ,2022).  Another illustration is the overseas campuses of foreign institutions. Universities in developed nations typically create these campuses in order to broaden their reach and give students in other nations access to their courses and resources.

There are several advantages to including transnational universities in India’s plan for luring foreign universities. It would open up more possibilities for international education for Indian students while also opening up a new market and potential revenue stream for foreign universities. In addition, it could facilitate international cooperation and cultural exchange.

In conclusion, the Indian government’s new policy of letting foreign universities set up campuses in India is a step in the right direction and could be very good for the higher education sector of the country. However, India must learn from the UAE and China by offering similar incentives and support to foreign universities and by investing in infrastructure and amenities to make the country an attractive destination. While the government is likely to consider these options, the litmus test for this experiment in India will be finding the right balance between establishing an investor-friendly structure and regulations and prioritising the best interests of students’ future.

P.S.- I’ve used UAE and China as cases because they are excellent examples of Asian nations that have explored the possibility of establishing foreign campuses and have been successful in luring international universities to their respective nations.

Author : Christo Joseph , FRSA

Director Strategy and Planning

Garden City University.


CGTN NEWS (2022) China Educational Innovation: Sino-foreign joint venture universities: Global study experiences at doorstep [online]. Available from: https://news.cgtn.com/news/304d444f32514464776c6d636a4e6e62684a4856/index.html (Accessed 23 February 2023).

Dr. Chang Xiaolin (2017) China Could Become the Global Campus | Study In China [online]. Available from: https://www.studyinchina.com.my/web/page/china-could-become-the-global-campus%20/ (Accessed 23 February 2023).

Fiona McKenzie (2023) 2023 predictions for UAE universities [online]. Available from: https://blog.thepienews.com/2023/01/2023-predictions-for-uae-universities/ (Accessed 23 February 2023).

Madichie, N. O. & Kolo, J. (2013) An exploratory enquiry into the Internationalisation of higher education in the United Arab Emirates. The Marketing Review. [Online] 13 (1), 83–99. [online]. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/146934713×13590250137862.

Sharma, K. (2023) Foreign universities can set up campus in India but UGC rules out online classes [online]. Available from: https://theprint.in/india/education/foreign-universities-can-set-up-campus-in-india-but-ugc-rules-out-online-classes/1299170/.

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