Government of India has approved a bill to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India and offer degrees.
The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, was cleared by the Union Cabinet presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Following this clearance, the Bill will be introduced in Parliament.
The bill seeks to regulate the entry and operation of foreign institutions, which will set up centre and offer degrees in India.
This bill was pending for last few years due to opposition from various political parties over certain provisions. Last year, the bill was referred to a Committee of Secretaries which brought modifications to certain provisions.
The proposed law prescribes 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.
Interestingly, the reservation for SC, ST and OBC students will not be available in foreign universities setting up campuses in India.
Though 100 per cent foreign direct investment through automatic route is permitted in the education sector since 2000, the present legal structure in India does not allow granting of degrees by foreign educational institutions here.
Proponents of the bill say it would facilitate the globally- renowned institutes to participate in India's higher education sector and will help in vocational education training also. But some education experts fear the foreign universities will be beyond the reach of needy but bright students and restrict education and job opportunities for the poor.
Currently in India only 13 per cent population of age group 18-23 are enrolled in higher education.