Time is right for UK further education providers to locate in India

The time is right for UK-based educational establishments in the further education sector to consider locating in India.

India’s education sector is growing rapidly and it is estimated that by 2020 the country will need 35,000 FE colleges and about 800 universities to cater for demand for courses from the local population, of which more than 60% are under 25 years of age. 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is now permissible in the sector and the new Foreign Educational Institutions Bill is soon to become law in India.

Having recently provided recommendations on the Bill to the Indian Government, it is clear that these changes represent a tremendous opportunity for forward thinking FE institutions.

They may wish to set up joint ventures or create their own independently-run campuses within India’s thriving educational establishment.

This opportunity is particularly compelling when you consider the impact of austerity measures on the sector in the UK. A growing number of colleges are in the process of setting up offices in India to lead their student recruitment initiatives and some are already collaborating with Indian colleges to offer dual course programmes.

Others are considering basing themselves in India and in some instances they are taking advantage of ready-made locations that have been created within new, recently-constructed townships.

Most colleges that are interested in entry to the Indian market are choosing to set up joint ventures with established local partners or with major infrastructure companies. However, there are a number of potential pitfalls they need to be aware of.

The potential gains are phenomenal, but the regulatory landscape in India’s education sector is complex and strict rules apply about how many local tutors must be used, for example.

In addition, regardless which route a college prefers to take, it is important to use legal experts with specialist knowledge of how to conduct negotiations in India in order to fulfill the necessary property and finance-related compliance criteria and meet the requirements set out in the incoming legislation.

Viplavi Mahendra is a corporate lawyer and co-chair of Team India at Shakespeares

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