Foreign education Bill tabled in Lok Sabha

News Posted - 2010-05-03

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal tabled the much-awaited Foreign Education Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010, in the Lok Sabha today. The Bill is aimed at regulating the entry and operation of foreign institutions which are imparting, or intend to impart, higher education in India. It will also permit foreign education providers to set up campuses in the country and offer degrees.

The proposed Bill has many clauses to check its potential misuse. It prescribes a time-bound format to grant approval to foreign educational institutions to set up campuses in India. They would be registered with the University Grants Commission (UGC) or any other regulatory body (which supercedes UGC), which will scrutinise proposals of aspiring institutions according to India’s priorities.

A foreign university, aspiring to set up a campus will also have to deposit Rs 50 crore as corpus fund and cannot take back the surplus generated from education activities here.

Moreover, a foreign education provider shall, out of the income received from the corpus fund, utilise not more than 75 per cent of it for the development of its institutions in India. The remaining income will be deposited in the corpus fund.

The Bill states that a foreign institution “shall not impart education in India unless it is recognised and notified by the central government as a foreign education provider under the proposed legislation” and offers education in conformity with the standards laid down by the statutory authority, and of comparable quality.

At present, only the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has notified regulations for entry and operation of foreign universities and institutions to impart technical education in India.

It was after nearly 15 years of intense debate that the Union Cabinet paved the way for the introduction of the Bill in Parliament by approving it on March 15. Introduced in Rajya Sabha in August 1995, the Bill could potentially save the country billions of dollars by way of foreign exchange outgo.

HRD ministry sources say around 50 foreign universities have evinced interest in setting up campuses in India. Speaking in Bangalore a couple of days back, however, Sibal clarified that the foreign education providers Bill was about collaboration and joint ventures of different kinds with foreign universities and not just about setting up campuses.

Consider this. In 2008, around 140 Indian institutions and 156 foreign education providers were engaged in academic collaborations. Of the 156 foreign providers, 90 have university status and 20 have college status. Other institutions are training institutions or those for further education. The total number of collaborations was 225 and with each collaboration having over one programme delivery, the total number collaboratively delivered stands at 635.

Experts say the highest number of collaborations is taking place in the field of management and business administration — 168 out of 635, or 26 per cent.

3 more Bills tabled

Education, especially higher education, is high on the UPA government’s agenda with Education Minister Kapil Sibal today tabling four major Bills in the Lok Sabha — the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill; Education Tribunals Bill; National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, besides the Foreign Education Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill.

The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill relates to malpractices and recommends a penalty for charging capitation fees, demanding donations, incompetent teaching faculty, withholding students’ certificates and misleading ads. The Educational Tribunals Bill will facilitate setting up of tribunals at the national, state and regional levels to settle disputes related to institutions at various levels. The Bill on regulatory authority proposes to set up regulatory bodies to monitor and conduct accreditation of higher education institutes in a transparent manner.
Source: Business Standard 04/05/10

Government moves bill to allow foreign universities

India took a step forward on Monday to allow foreign universities open local campuses, key to revamping the country's education system, but the bill presented to parliament may take time to win approval.

The proposal will be watched to gauge New Delhi's reformist appetite. After its victory in last week's confidence vote, the Congress-led government is in a stronger position to move legislation to further free the economy.

Still, the government is dependent on fickle and reform-suspicious allies for a majority. The bill is unlikely to pass muster in the current parliament session that ends Friday.

Goldman Sachs counts the lack of quality education as one of the 10 factors holding India back from rapid economic growth. The demand for graduates over the next five years is likely to be 13.8 million, analysts have estimated.

Congress leaders have said they also plan to introduce a long-delayed bill to cap liability of operators in case of a nuclear accident, key for firms like General Electric and Westinghouse, a unit of Toshiba Corp, to enter the $150 billion civil nuclear sector.

Source: 03/05/10