New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is reported to have revived an UPA-era proposal to allow foreign universities set up campuses in India.
According to a news report, the proposed overarching Higher Education Commission of India, which would subsume both UGC and AICTE, would also regulate the entry and operations of foreign educational institutions in the country.
A provision in this regard has been incorporated in the draft bill to set up the commission, the Indian Express has reported. The Union Cabinet is expected to take the bill for consideration in October.
The clause relating to this particular provision states that the commission can permit “highly-reputed foreign universities” such as Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford to set up campuses in India.
In 2010, the UPA-1 government had faced backlash from a section of the academia after it came up with a similar proposal.
The Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 3, 2010, and then referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament. Though the committee had presented its report, not much was heard of the Bill since then.
The argument was that the move will lead to commercialisation of the education sector.
Both government and private universities feared that foreign campuses will indulge in poaching to get the best teachers to their campuses with higher perks.
Concerns were also raised by a section that the cost of education will increase exorbitantly even if students have more choices on hand.
Lukewarm response from foreign universities:
Foreign universities were equally skeptical about the Bill.
The non-repatriation of profits made the prospect of setting up a campus in India less viable.
The Bill had stipulated the foreign universities to utilise up to 75 per cent of any income generated from the corpus fund for developing its institution in India and putting the rest back into the fund.
In June 2015, PM Modi tasked the Niti Aayog to prepare a feasibility report to allow foreign universities in India.
While the developments following that remained low, the issue gained momentum after the draft national policy on education, submitted this year, favoured foreign educational campuses in India, provided such universities are among the 200 rank holders in the world.