As part of a wide ranging discussion that explored India’s national education landscape, TNE potential and appetite for outbound study, Delia Heneghan, director of education – India at Sannam S4 noted that regulatory changes will make it much easier to develop partnerships in India.

“Now what we are seeing with the national education policy is a sea-change”

Announced in July 2020, India’s NEP seeks to bring top-rated international universities to India, and encourages Indian institutions to set up campuses in other countries around the world.

“Partnerships have tended to be more around the research space, or around student mobility and staff exchanges rather than some of the types of partnerships that we are used to in other markets, such as China and South East Asia,” she said. 

“But now what we are seeing with the national education policy is a sea-change and that a whole range of partnerships will open up in India for us. 

“We’ve seen a big increase in interest. And really what has been fantastic is the increasing interest in outreach from Indian institutions who are interested in the partnership space now and understanding how to find the best partners.”

Heneghan told delegates that institutions should be more strategic in their approach to partnership development. 

“I think the NEP has given us the opportunity to start to think differently. And there are some very important regulatory changes that will make it much easier to develop partnerships in India,” she said. 

“One of the key things that’s come out of the NEP is that the University Grants Commission has only last week issued its consultation document about the type of partnerships that will be allowed.

“The focus is very much on quality and ensuring that this is bringing to India opportunities for growth and development and change in the higher education sector. So they’re very important parts and elements of the NEP,” she added. 

“This has always been one of the barriers to being able to set up mobility arrangements”

Heneghan also explained that there will soon be a consultation about the type of partnerships that will be able to be brokered under the NEP. The establishment of the National Research Foundation will enable research partnerships to be “deeper and more focused”. 

The establishment of the bank of academic credit will also be “very important for mobility,” according to Heneghan

“This has always been one of the barriers to being able to set up mobility arrangements, so this will [come into effect] by the end of the year. 

“It will allow transfer credits to be done much more simply which will encourage not only outward mobility but also inward mobility and the opportunities for students to have term exchanges and much more collaborative delivery of programs,” she said. 

Heneghan argued that institutions need to be strategic in their approach to partnership saying it is important they do not use a “scattergun approach”. 

“It’s to think what your strategy is, both the overseas partner and the Indian partner, what are your overseas objectives, what do you hope to get out of a partnership and then find someone who has a mission match with you, where your values match,” she added. 

Professor Gunjan Sanjeev, vice president – RBEF (Amity Education Group) and director International Affairs at Amity University in India told delegates that internationalisation has always played a part in the country’s landscape but the new policies have increased demand for partnerships. 

“The 66 page [policy] document has only half a page devoted to internationalisation, but in fact it is so high that there’s discussion around it, not only in India, but also it’s getting all the attention from abroad,” she said. 

“When we’re kind of jostling for a little more money and a little more space, those partnerships inevitably start to fall apart”

Ganesh Kohli, the founder of IC3 Movement cautioned that while there may be opportunities, it was important that institutions created sustainable partnerships. 

“Partnerships where the student is at the centre are more likely to succeed in the new world order because we’ve commoditised the student enough – and we’ve really focused on revenues and the business aspect of education,” he said.  

“And in the end, when we’re kind of jostling for a little more money and a little more space, those partnerships inevitably start to fall apart in time. 

“Of course, the policy framework is now here, and it’s very encouraging that not just the policy document is out… the implementation is happening rapidly. So it’s a great time to come in,” he added.  

Panelists also discussed demand for outbound study. Delegates heard how large numbers of aspirational Indians are keen to study abroad. 

Anjali Anand Seth who is international recruitment specialist – India for Huron at Western University in Canada said the need for international education is more pronounced now in India. 

Demand is in tier-2 cities where international universities have largely not reached given recruiting efforts have focused on larger, cosmopolitan regions, she suggested.

“You need to move to the tier-2 cities where there is a thirst for knowledge and they have the resources too, they just don’t know how to go about it,” she said. 

“I have been to places in deep pockets in the country. And I can tell you the aspiration is beyond imagination and the resources are also available,” said Ganesh Kohli.

As long as India’s economy continues to be stable outward mobility is “only going to keep increasing”, he argued.

Speaking on the evolution of student demand in relation to Covid-19 Jas Pandhal, partner, international relations at TC Global explained that there are still barriers to outbound study. 

“The things that people tend to think are ‘will I get global exposure?’ and that is a really fundamental thing that students have said to us particularly during the Covid period,” she said.  

“A reluctance to starting online from students is how do I network, how do I build this global base of people that I’m going to be able to connect with.” 

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