Foreign Universities in India

As Foreign University Bill is on its way to be introduced in the Indian parliament, foreign education providers are gearing up to set up campuses in India and offer degrees. The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, was approved by the Union Cabinet presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last March. This according to many is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality. The bill looks for regulating the entry and function of foreign institutions, which will set up centre and proffer degrees in India.

The proposed law recommends eight-month time bound arrangement for granting sanction to foreign educational institutions to set up campuses in India. The institutions will undergo numerous levels of registration process during this period and will be finally registered with UGC or any other authoritarian body in place. The regulatory body in higher education will analyze the applications of wannabe institutions as per India’s priorities and recommend the government whether to allow the institute function in India. The proposed law would help the globally well-known institutes to contribute in India’s higher education segment. It will also invite foreign education providers for vocational education training.

India is passing through a very exciting time in developing its higher education structure. Education is a main concern in many Indian households, with children placed under constant force to manage good marks in exams and get an esteemed place at over-stretched universities, with a view to well-paid careers. According to Kapil Sibal, The Minister of Human Resource Development, in order to raise the percentage of Indian students pursuing higher education, about 800 to 1,000 new universities would be needed within ten years. For decades, India’s brightest and most fortunate students have headed abroad to complete their studies and most of them have settled there.

Quite a few Indian leaders have studied at Cambridge or Oxford in Britain, including the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and the present Prime Minister Dr. MAnmohan Singh. About 100,000 Indians study at universities in the United States and 60,000 in other countries. Therefore the bill is expected to be “good for India’s economic and social well-being” as it would lead to standards being raised in all colleges and will also offer more choices to the students.

A number of foreign universities have showed interest in coming to India which include

1.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
2.Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
3.Schulich School of Business
4.Boston University
5.Middlesex University
6.Duke University
7.Maastricht University in the Netherlands
8.Melbourne University

However, the bill raised a concern about the access of “foreign universities” with poor reputation in India. Many fear that they would only generate profits for their foreign stakeholders. But what is actually needed is not the distinction between “foreign” universities and “domestic” ones but between “poor” institutions of learning and fine institutions regardless of their country of origin. Many Private colleges of India offer poor quality education and are directed only towards making profits. They impose charges midway through the course of study by when the student has no choice but to pay up; they promote accomplishments of the college which are not true; they assure to provide courses without any objective to really do so.

The Committee, set up by Arjun Sing approves the entry of brilliant foreign institutions of education but with a number of admonitory cautions. According to the Committee the best of foreign universities, e.g amongst the top 200 in the world are welcomed to come in India and operate. But any decision in this matter has to be taken with greatest concern. The institutions aiming to set up campuses in the country should give an Indian Degree and follow all rules and regulations that would apply to any Indian University.

Foreign institutes will definitely evolve the growth of Indian education. With some regulatory measures being taken the off shore institutes will change the concept of Indian education by providing world class education to Indian students. India has the prospective and should follow the dream of becoming a foremost global hub for higher education in this century.

Points to be kept in mind before inviting a foreign institute

1. It must be ensured that only institutions of education with character and prominence are permitted entry. Particular care must be taken to make sure that foreign universities of ill repute are not allowed to join the hands of deceitful Indian partners.

2. Exchange program should be promoted and extended. A student should get the chance to spend part of the course time in India and part of the time overseas.

3. Foreign students should be allowed to get admission in India. A chief advantage of reading in a US campus is the international opus of its students and the international character of the learning experience.

4. Efforts must be taken to draw international staff and the efforts should not be restricted to alluring back NRIs.

5 Foreign university of reputation will come to India only to make profit. The fees in India will not be considerably more than a third of what they charge at home. With that income, they will not make enormous surpluses unless they subcontract or employ local faculty. Again, it will be mandatory for them to bring in some of their core faculty from home base in order to protect their universal brand. These institutes principally look at India as a happening place. Leveraging India’s overwhelming pool of talent is definitely a lure. In order to draw them, research activities must be encouraged.

6. The prominent universities in the world are not expected to have any urgency in setting up full-fledged campuses in India. Initially they will look for collaborative ventures, student and faculty exchanges, executive education, joint research projects and curriculum/ courseware sharing, in order to test the waters. Therefore any of these partnership initiatives will be a welcome step forward.