• India’s Finance Minister Hosts Roundtable With University Presidents 

    AASCU Participates in Roundtable Dialogue With Finance Minister of India Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and American University Presidents

    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 institutions. 

    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.