UPA govt okays foreign varsities

UPA govt okays foreign varsities

Cabinet clears legislative proposal

UPA govt okays foreign varsities

On Monday, the Union cabinet approved a legislative proposal to allow foreign education providers to set up their institutions in the country and they will be outside the purview of the reservation system, too.

The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, was cleared at a meeting of the cabinet presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The cabinet’s nod paves the way for the introduction of the Bill in Parliament.  “This is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality,” HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said after the approval of the bill by Cabinet. 

Though 100 per cent foreign direct investment through automatic route is permitted in the education sector since 2000, the present legal regime in the country does not allow granting of degrees by foreign educational institutions here. India has also allowed foreign investment in education for a number of years, but foreign institutes have not been permitted to grant degrees.  

But the cabinet’s decision to create a new legal structure through the Bill would allow foreign universities to set up their institutions in the country and this would exert enormous pressure on Indian universities to address the quality issue.  This Bill had run into road blocks over last four years owing to opposition from various quarters, including the Left parties, over certain provisions.

Last year, it was referred to a Committee of Secretaries which brought modifications to certain provisions earlier existed. The Bill was approved by the Cabinet without any change. The Bill provides eight-month time bound format for granting approval to foreign educational institutions to set up campuses. They will go through different levels of registration process during this period and will be finally registered with UGC or any other regulatory body in place.

The regulatory body in higher education, either UGC or any other body that would replace UGC, will scrutinise the proposals of aspiring institution as per India's priorities and advice government whether to allow the institute operate in India. The Bill has repeatedly courted controversy and could not be tabled in Parliament during the first term of the UPA because of opposition from the Left parties.