NEW DELHI, March 2 (PTI): The University of Wollongong’s campus in Gujarat’s GIFT City is expected to be operational by the end of this year and admit the first batch of students, Australian Education Minister Jason Clare announced on Thursday.
The campus will initially start “small” and offer finance and STEM courses, said Clare, who is on a visit to India till March 3.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday announced that two Australian public varsities — Wollongong and Deakin — would open their campuses in GIFT City.
“The University of Wollongong has signed a Letter of Intent with the Indian government to work on the development of the campus. We are hopeful that the campus in GIFT City will be operational by the end of this year and start admitting the first batch of students. It will be the first Australian university to take the precious opportunity,” Clare told PTI on the sidelines of an event.
“It will start small and grow over time. Initially, there will be finance and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses,” he said.
The minister, however, did not share a timeline for setting up of the Deakin University campus.
“More details will be available during Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit next week,” he said.
Responding to a question on Australia’s plan for opening campuses in India beyond GIFT City, Clare said three or four Australian varsities might come together to open a joint campus in India.
“Some universities are also thinking about collaborating with an existing university or institute instead of (setting up) a standalone campus in India,” he said.
Deakin University is ranked 266 in QS World University Rankings and is also among the top 50 young varsities. It has four campuses in Australia and many students from India go to study there.
University of Wollongong is ranked 185th in the world, according to the same rankings. It was also the first foreign university to open a campus in the UAE.
Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) City is an emerging global financial and IT services hub, a first-of-its-kind in India, designed to be on or above par with globally benchmarked business districts.
In her Budget speech last year, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that the government would allow the setting up of world-class foreign universities in Gandhinagar’s GIFT City, free from domestic regulations, to facilitate the availability of skilled manpower in the financial services space.
According to regulations, registrations would be granted based on the recommendations of a committee of experts. At first instance, in-principle approval to the applicant will give it 180 days to set up the required infrastructure and engage necessary manpower, among others.
In October, the Centre notified regulations for foreign educational institutions to set up campuses in GIFT City in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad to offer courses identical to those in their home jurisdictions and award identical degrees, diplomas or certificates.
The regulations allow international branch campuses and offshore educational centres to be set up in the city.
These regulations, however, are different from the Setting up and Operations of Foreign Higher Education Institutions in India, Regulations, 2023, prepared by the University Grants Commission but yet to be notified.