On April 22, 2022, Terry Brown, AASCU’s vice president of academic
innovation and transformation, joined American university presidents and
representatives for a virtual roundtable dialogue with Finance Minister of
India Nirmala Sitharaman. At the meeting, she expressed AASCU’s strong
commitment to international research and education and to helping our members
prepare globally engaged citizens. The invitation to participate in this
roundtable was extended to AASCU by Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu of the
Indian Embassy to explore opportunities for collaboration and facilitate
dialogue among campus leaders.
The meeting began with brief remarks by the Finance Minister of India Smt.
Nirmala Sitharaman, who explained that under her leadership, India has
developed a regulatory and tax-free area called the GIFT IFSC zone. She
described the area as a “city within a city,” a financial center which is not
subject to domestic regulations.
India is inviting American colleges and universities to establish
“satellite” campuses to deliver degrees to Indian students in STEM, business,
cybersecurity, and other subjects that are critical to India’s financial
security and workforce development. All transactions related to the development
and operations of these campuses will be conducted in U.S. dollars, and there
will be financial incentives for campuses, including nonresident tax status.
The campus leaders at the meeting explained that in the past, limitations
and restrictions prevented public universities, which serve the citizens of
their states, from setting up satellite campuses abroad. In response to this,
the finance minister is now inviting U.S. campus leaders to visit the GIFT-SEZ,
and to take advantage of the new, more favorable financial policies for foreign
AASCU was the only higher education association invited to the dialogue,
along with a dozen American university presidents and representatives. AASCU
acknowledges the strong interest in India from our members and is aware of the
limitations and restrictions of public institutions for the type of models
requested by the Indian government. AASCU will continue to stay connected with
the Indian Embassy and explore the opportunities for collaboration with Indian
institutions that will serve our members.