Need Utmost Caution in Foreign University Education

In a hurry to add achievements to his ministerial performance list, Kapil Sibal had pushed the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill in the Cabinet. India can truly benefit from a foreign university to serve its people with better education. But to difficult to experience such good intended universities from abroad. We can give encouragement to the HRD minister provided he argument for better bargain. Unfortunately the lawyer turned politician has let down his country’s higher education system and the youth. By capping the corpus to be deposited by the foreign university to a peanut of Rs.50 crore he had done a great injustice.

The minister should have fixed a minimum of Rs.200 crore deposit, the fee limit of not more than Rs. 2 lakh and other safeguard mechanisms. Good that the minister had pleaded for the non plying of profit out of the country. Even in this trial and error game of foreign education in India the minister needs to exercise utmost caution. Just to add his namesake achievements the lawyer minister shouldn’t play with the future of the country’s children.

The Times of India writes on 16 March 2010

The country just took a big step for dramatically enhancing the profile of higher education in the country. On Monday, the Union cabinet cleared the Foreign Educational Institutions (regulation of entry and operation) Bill, which aims to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

The bill, which was adopted without changes, is expected to be introduced in Parliament after the recess of the budget session. If cleared, it would widen the definition of FDI in higher education and is expected to not only shake up the market but also throw up exciting possibilities for top Indian teachers. An excited HRD minister Kapil Sibal said the bill would lead to a ‘‘larger revolution than even in the telecom sector’’.

While the bill will be opposed by the Left, it shouldn’t face any serious obstacle in Parliament because the BJP is also in favour of the move, even though it might raise some objections on a provision or two of the bill.

Once it is cleared, some of the top foreign universities, said to be waiting in the wings, are expected to set up campuses in India. The Atlanta-based Georgia Tech University has already bought 250 acres in Hyderabad. Although Yale University is interested in having a presence in India, and welcomed the cabinet clearance, its assistant secretary George Joseph told TOI that there were no plans as of now to set up a campus here.

While the foreign universities would follow the national laws, they will not have to give reservation in admission to SC/ST/OBC students. The bill treats them as private universities. Even Indian private universities are free of quota-based admissions.

Similarly, foreign universities will have freedom to fix fees and decide their admission process.

The Foreign Educational Institutions (regulation of entry and operation) Bill makes it mandatory for foreign universities to publish a prospectus. Also, the bill disallows foreign educational providers from repatriating profit made from Indian campus through education.

With foreign direct investment in higher education already allowed since 2002, the bill stipulates that any
foreign university interested in setting up a campus in India will have to deposit a corpus of Rs 50 crore with the body that will register them. The registering body will be the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The bill promises time-bound registration to foreign universities, although they will have to go through a series of registrations at various levels. The registering body after going through the application will advise government whether the foreign university be allowed or not.

Asked what happens in case a foreign education provider sets up a campus in collaboration with private Indian university, ministry source said, ‘‘It is the foreign education provider who will have to come for the registration with details of collaboration.’’

Kapil Sibal was quick to welcome the cabinet approval. He said, ‘‘This is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality. A larger revolution than even in the telecom sector awaits us.’’

AVerage monthly salaries

($ 2008 purchasing power parity)

Saudi Arabia    6611

Canada               6548

United States   5816

Australia            4795

New Zealand     4490

U.K                        4343

Germany              4333

Japan                     4112

South Africa        4075

India                       1547

China                      1182

Source: Rumbley, I Pancheco & Philip Altbach

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