By: Shubham Ghosh
India’s International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA) has received an application from Australia’s Deakin University to set up its campus at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar in the western state of Gujarat.
The foreign university will make an announcement regarding its intentions on March 8 during the visit of Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese to Gujarat.
If the application is approved by the IFSCA, Deakin will be the first foreign university to establish its campus in India, according to sources.
“We have received an application from the Deakin University and we are examining it at present,” a source in the IFSCA said.
When contacted, Deakin University officials said they are under an “embargo” till March 8, the date on which an official announcement regarding it will be made to the public during the visit of Australian prime minister to Gujarat.
Albanese is expected to visit Gujarat on March 8 and 9 and likely to witness the fourth Test match between India and Australia in Ahmedabad along with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
The GIFT City is an emerging global financial and IT services hub, a first-of-its-kind in India, designed to be at or above par with globally benchmarked business districts.
The IFSCA is a unified authority for the development and regulation of financial products, financial services and financial institutions in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
At present, the GIFT IFSC is the maiden international financial services centre in India. Sources in the IFSCA said many foreign universities have shown interest in establishing their independent campuses in the GIFT City, but Deakin University is the first and only educational institution so far to give an application.
The authority is yet to give its approval for the same, they said. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in her budget speech in February last year that foreign universities and institutions will be allowed to set up campuses in India. They will be allowed in the GIFT City first, she had said.
The IFSCA in a release in June 2022 said in its endeavour to develop a comprehensive and consistent regulatory framework for the establishment of International Branch Campuses (IBC) and Offshore Education Centres (OEC) by foreign universities or foreign institutions in the GIFT IFSC, it has drafted regulations based on global best practices and is seeking public comments on the proposed draft regulations.
“After we framed the regulations for setting up the IBC and OEC, many foreign universities had shown interest,” a source said.
India’s University Grants Commission (UGC) is also in the process of framing regulations for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
However, the IFSCA regulations will govern the foreign university campuses established in the GIFT City area of Gandhinagar. Deakin University is ranked 266 in QS world university ankings and is also among top 50 young universities.
It has four campuses in Australia and has many students from India who go to study there.