Thursday, 6 May 2010

India Seeks Law Change to Allow Entry of Foreign Universities

May 3 (Bloomberg) -- India’s government took a step toward opening its doors to leading foreign universities with a bill that will allow them to open campuses and award degrees, part of an overhaul of the South Asian nation’s higher education.

The Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill aims to regulate the entry of reputed foreign educational providers to improve choice and lift the quality of teaching. While the bill was approved by the cabinet in March, it may be some months before it becomes law.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal introduced the legislation in the lower house of Parliament today amid opposition by Communist parties which say the move will commercialize education. India hopes to attract world renowned universities such as Harvard, Yale and the U.K.’s Cambridge.

Only 12 children out of every 100 make it to college in India and those who do get a university education are hampered by poor teaching and crumbling infrastructure. The government wants to raise this level to 30 percent by 2020. In China about 23 percent of children go on to higher education, according to UNESCO’s Global Education Digest 2009.

There are about 480 universities and 22,000 colleges in India. It needs 600 more universities and 35,000 extra colleges over the next 12 years to reach its enrollment goal, Sibal has said. To achieve that level of expansion the government says it needs to attract private investment and foreign institutions.

‘Stringent Conditions’

According to the bill, education establishments wanting to set up in India will need to maintain a fund of not less than 500 million rupees ($11 million). Profits cannot be invested in any business other than growth and development of the colleges, it says.

“The stringent conditions in the proposal are going to deter credible institutions coming in. At the same time it may provide opportunities for the entry of lesser-known players,” said Omprakash Mishra, pro-vice chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi.

Still as a “matter of principle the barriers to entry into India should be done away with,” Mishra said.

The legislation may help India keep at home money now invested in buying an education overseas.
According to UNESCO, in 2007 over 2.8 million students were enrolled in educational institutions outside their country of origin. India sends 153,300 students abroad, the highest next to China’s 421,100.

Business Week


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