Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Exclusive: SP Jain becomes first Indian-origin B-school that can award degrees in the UK

The upcoming London campus follows SP Jain School of Global Management's existing campuses in Mumbai, Dubai, Sydney and Singapore. What does this mean for Indian education, and how will they compete with established UK universities?

Pankti Mehta Kadakia
Published: Jun 9, 2023 09:44:38 AM IST
Updated: Jun 14, 2023 11:43:36 AM IST

The London campus will open in The Canary Wharf business district (pictured here).

Image: Shutterstock The London campus will open in The Canary Wharf business district (pictured here). Image: Shutterstock

SP Jain London School of Management is the first Indian-origin B-school to be given the right to award UK degrees. The London campus, which will open in business district Canary Wharf to students in October 2023, will offer undergraduate and MBA programmes.

The B-school is registered as a UK entity but is part of the SP Jain School of Global Management family. Set up as an Australian business school, SP Jain’s roots are in India, and its target audience continues to be, largely, the global Indian. Thus far, the school has operational campuses in Sydney, Mumbai, Dubai and Singapore. Their flagship 12-month Global MBA programme offers students four-month semesters each in Sydney, Dubai and Singapore, and allows them to pick electives in each of these cities. At the end of the programme, students receive an Australian degree.
“There are two ways in which you can operate a university in the UK. The first is to partner with a local university, and offer their degrees, their curriculum, often their faculty and campus too. You can call it a partner, but that’s a fairly one-sided partnership,” says Nitish Jain, president of SP Jain School of Global Management. “The second way is to procure degree awarding powers. This is granted very sparingly in the UK.”
In the last three years, SP Jain is the fifth school to receive the New Degree Awarding Powers (NDAP). This is typically granted to a new institute, or one that has been operational for fewer than three years, as opposed to Full Degree Awarding Powers for more established institutes. Since this is for newer colleges, the NDAP is offered first on a probationary three-year term.

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Of the five that have received NDAPs in the past three years, SP Jain is the only Indian-origin institute, and the second international one to be given the right. International students will, then, receive SP Jain-endorsed UK student visas, and eventually, SP Jain degrees.
The London campus will also become an additional option for students to study a term at, along with the other global campuses as part of the Australian global MBA degree. “Alternatively, they can transfer to become a UK student in term 2, and receive a UK degree instead,” adds Jain. “Many would ask, why would you choose an Australian degree over a UK one? The answer is that Australia offers a generous, five-year post-study work right, which you can’t get in the UK.”

Nitish Jain, president of SP Jain School of Global Management

Nitish Jain, president of SP Jain School of Global Management

At the outset, it’s important to note that in this case, a UK entity is awarding UK degrees, even though the parent organisation has Indian roots. “That distinction is important, because Indian institutes have not yet received the authority to set up campuses abroad—that is in the offing,” says Deloitte partner Kamlesh Vyas, who specialises in education and skill development. “Even so, I think it signifies a watershed moment, when coupled with other developments, and an indicator that Indian education is gaining recognition globally.”

SP Jain, Dubai
SP Jain, Dubai

Last year, the UGC and the UK government announced an agreement that mutual degrees would begin to get recognised—so if you studied in India, your degree would be valid and equal to a UK degree if you were to move to the UK. “And this should soon be adopted by other countries too. But the next stage of this is that foreign universities can set up campuses here, and Indian universities can set up campuses abroad,” says Vyas. “This will mean that many excellent Indian institutes can find new revenue streams, and overall, this will help improve higher education in India too.”

What do Indian universities have to offer international students?

Jain says that with anti-China sentiments spreading across the West, Indian students are likely to take over as the largest cohort of international students in countries like the US and UK.

“Moreover, today, India is gaining respect because of its people. The world’s top companies are run by Indian-born and Indian-origin CEOs, and many top universities have Indian-origin deans, including Harvard Business School. The UK Prime Minister is of Indian origin too,” he adds. “Indians all over the world are shining, and the country is gaining stature from that. The fact that they have singled out an SP Jain to give degree awarding powers too, in my mind, means that they hold us with the same regard as they do UK universities.”

Also read: Foreign university campuses in India: Is the move practical?
Indian higher educational institutes will carry certain unique strengths when they go abroad, according to Vyas. “The world wants to know about India,” he agrees. “They want to know about our multicultural democracy, but also about certain sectors of growth we’re seeing. Our automotive sector, technology sector, the development sector—these have all become case studies at top universities. So to understand how they function from the horse’s mouth will be very unique.”
It’s also likely that as multinational companies gain more exposure to Indian markets, they will want to have their talent trained in Indian styles of management, which marry tradition with contemporary thinking, Vyas adds. And perhaps most importantly, India has a history of innovation at low cost and with efficiency. “That is something that is of value, and can be replicated in developing countries,” he says.

Who is the target audience?

While SP Jain has ambitious plans to have 50 percent domestic or European students, that ratio will take time to build. Currently, for its postgraduate programmes that receive the Australian degree, 88 percent of students are Indian.
To start with, experts say that such universities are likely to attract: a) The Indian diaspora; b) Indians who want to study abroad and are comfortable with the Indian brand, while receiving an international degree; c) Local students; d) Students from other developing countries.
“We’re confident that we have a unique proposition, where students can study outside the UK too, at any of our five campuses. And to promote ourselves in the UK, we will pay for that trip too, offering a travel bursary of GBP4,000,” says Jain. “The dominating nationality at our other schools is still Indian, but we are now moving towards working on attracting the global citizen, who doesn’t need to be Indian.”