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HomeNewsForeign universities may come to GIFT City in Off-campus mode

Foreign universities may come to GIFT City in Off-campus mode

Foreign universities are likely to open in GIFT City – where they will be free of domestic regulations – through an offshore campus/branch mode rather than a full-fledged varsity mode.

Off-campus mode of bringing in foreign varsities at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) – announced in the Union Budget – were discussed at a review meeting held by the Prime Minister’s Office with all stakeholder ministries and organisations on speeding up ‘internationalisation of higher education’ on Saturday, senior officials said.

Considering that setting up a university in India typically requires legislative approvals from Parliament or state assembly, the off-campus/branch route has been found most feasible to allow specialised courses to be offered by foreign institutes at GIFT, they told ET.

The Union Budget 2022 has opened a new route for setting up of foreign universities in India and freeing them up of ‘domestic regulations’ – through GIFT IFSC (International Financial Services Centre).

GIFT City refers to the greenfield central business district and integrated hub that is coming up in Gujarat with the promise of world class infrastructure to draw top global players. It is envisaged that foreign institutes here will be permitted to offer specialised courses in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently held an interaction with several leading foreign institutes on possible participation in GIFT City.

“Several US and UK institutes have shown interest, but these are still preliminary decisions,” an official in the know said. “While the academic model and systems at the GIFT campus will be entirely based on the parent university’s template, there will be a faciliatory mechanism via IFSCA.”

The proposed off-campus model is expected to work in close engagement with top global industry and IT majors that set up base at GIFT City.


Foreign institutes that operate from GIFT will be free of domestic regulations like that of the University Grants Commission (UGC), but the latter is looking to open collaboration models on research and student exchange with them.

A dialogue is likely to be opened for the same soon and UGC will also bring in enabling regulations to permit the same with Indian universities and colleges, senior UGC officials said.

Over the last decade, successive governments have been attempting to attract top foreign institutes into India, but all such plans have failed to take off so far as the latter are wary of India’s rigid regulatory regime for higher education.

The government, however, is learnt to be turning its focus once again to ‘internationalisation’ as also emphasised in the new National Education Policy 2020.

The PMO review in the weekend, accordingly, also took stock of the steps being taken at UGC and in the education ministry towards ‘internationalisation’.

UGC is learnt to be close to finalising its regulations for allowing full-fledged foreign universities to be set up in the country. A committee set up for the same is soon expected to submit its report, officials said.

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