Despite the reservations expressed by the academicians over the proposed Bill to allow foreign education providers to set campuses in India and give degrees, the Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today made a strong appeal to international players to set up low cost learning centres in India for development of human resources.
The minister was addressing a seminar on "Higher Education in India: Opportunities and Prospects" being organised in Singapore.
Welcoming foreign universities, Mr Sibal said, "International corporations were already setting up their research centres in India largely to benefit from the lower operating costs. Likewise, international educational institutions should see India as a low cost centre for developing human resources”.
Mr Sibal said the laws governing foreign education providers were being finalised and old education systems, regulations and laws would be restructured to make it easier for an overseas university to operate in India.
Highlighting the projected university-level education requirement in India, the minister said foreign investors should consider investing in the large human resources base of India.
“India will need at least 800 more universities and another 4,000 colleges in the next 10 years to double the percentage of students going for higher education from the present 12.4 per cent in the country to 25 percent,” Mr Sibal said.
However, considering the objections from various quarters, the HRD ministry now plans to restrict the entry of public and private universities that operate for profit.
To ensure this, a condition has been added to the Foreign Education Providers’ Bill that universities listed on any stock market as well as for-profit universities would not be allowed to set up campuses in India.
Under criticism for moving in the direction of rampant commercialisation of higher education sector, the ministry has introduced this new condition in the Bill. The original conditions include forbidding foreign universities from repatriating funds to their home country and setting up a minimum corpus of US $11 million.
The Bill has already been approved by the Cabinet and would be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament. Once the Bill is cleared by the Parliament, it will be interesting to see how many universities accept Mr Sibal’s invitation.