India's ministry of human resources and development is trying to issue what is in effect an executive order, which would leapfrog a bill stuck in parliament since 2010, one casualty of a legislative logjam that has paralysed Indian policymaking over the last two years.
Despite scepticism from many institutions that India will be able to change its game with elections looming by next May, some foreign universities are keen to push ahead with campuses.
"A campus in India has always been our vision and that is our plan," said Guru Ghosh, the vice-president for outreach and international affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known as Virginia Tech.
It is due to launch a research centre near Chennai in spring 2014 and hopes to set up a campus within 3-5 years if the rules change, Ghosh said.
Under the proposed rules, non-profit foreign universities in the top 400 worldwide would be able to open campuses. The rules need a final sign-off from the law ministry, which will take up to three months, according to R.P. Sisodia, joint secretary for higher education at the Ministry of Human Resources and Development.