From education to employment

India’s educational sector widens the field for UK based FE providers

The burgeoning landscape of India’s educational field has received a welcome boost in interest with the new Foreign Educational Institutions Bill set to be instated this year.

The move has created an opportunity for UK education providers to expand and develop new or joint educational connections in India, with an estimated 800 universities and 35,000 colleges required to supply demand by the year 2020, according to legal experts from Shakespeares, a sector specific law firm currently operating in India.

Viplavi Mahendra, head of Shakespeares’ India team, said some institutions have already set up what will become student recruitment offices, while others have considered using existing offices and appropriate locations for student and university villages.

Pleased with the new educational bill in India, Mahendra declared the move to be “a tremendous opportunity for UK-based education providers”, which will offer the ability, “to set up joint ventures or create their own independently-run campuses within India’s thriving educational establishment”.

This ‘thriving educational establishment’ may seem something of legend during the winter of FE discontent, where funding cuts, coupled with higher tuition fees, heralded austere financial planning for the foreseeable future. Evidence of which takes the form of staff redundancies, course and college closures and reduced structural development. With this in mind, institutions are often left feeling that, try as they might, there is no real way to progress.

There are, indeed, great opportunities for growth within the educational sector in India, but only if certain conditions are met. Regulation and control of teaching standards, curriculum, and examining bodies is paramount. Significant local involvement must also play a key role in developing the identity and ensuring the success of FE bodies in the area, while the principles of the original establishment must also remain to give credibility to the quality of the education provided.

There also appear to be several legal and logistical questions surrounding the entry of foreign education providers into India’s education sector. With many global educational institutions preferring to embark upon joint ventures using already established connections within India, or even through deals with major infrastructure companies in the area, it appears that the Indian education field is fraught with more problems than first expected.

It is all too easy to see this move as a business strategy, and like many businesses seeking to expand, universities and other FE organisations appear to be becoming industrialised, and almost franchised, to the extent where the reproduction becomes a diminished reflection of the institution itself, and its core values. It is one task to move to India, another to maintain the standards upheld back home.

Educational requirements hugely differ, culturally speaking, and the legal obligations of the sector in question must be upheld, whether in accordance with, or in contrast to, the associated institutions in the UK.

Mahendra warns: “The potential gains are phenomenal, but the regulatory landscape in India’s education sector is complex and strict rules apply.””

Upon entering this field one must also be fully aware of the legalities; the negotiation processes involved in establishing an FE institution in India, the ratio of local to foreign employees within the institution, and the requirements set out in the upcoming legislation, to name but a few.

Despite the potential problems of establishing new links in India, evidence shows far harder nuts have already been cracked, as The University of Nottingham hosts a fully functioning overseas campus in China.

Daisy Atkinson

Related Articles