Foreign Universities Bill: Will it bring a Revolution in Higher Education?

Posted on March 20, 2010 in Education

The Foreign Educational Institutional (regulation of entry and operation) Bill, 2010 is seen as a major breakthrough in the education system of our country. Foreign universities like Yale and Georgia Tech have been given permission to open their campuses in the country. Columbia University has also announced it will set up an International Centre for Research and Regional Collaboration in Mumbai later this month focusing on sustainable rural development and architecture.

In eyes of HRD Minister, Mr. Kapil Sibbal, the Bill is “A milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality. A larger revolution than even in the telecom sector awaits us.”

At one hand where India has been constantly losing out its talent because of brain drain in past few decades, the reverse brain drain in recent years has not reached significant proportions yet as far as all the professional career fields are concerned. There are a couple of issues and problems which need to be looked at with the onset of this Bill.

  • Is the objective of opening our education system to foreign universities clear and well defined?

The objective of passing such a Bill as stated by the government is to let reputed foreign universities come to India and set their campuses here so that Indian students do not go abroad in search of quality education, thereby also making students afford the costly foreign education at lesser tuition fees and living expenses. Also it aims to promote Research and Development with the expertise and exposure of foreign institutions by collaboration with good research institutes of our nation like IISc, IITs and IIMs.

The Bill prima facie appears to be complete. But issues like regulation on hiring of faculties from Indian Universities, impartial and merit based admission process have been over looked. Though it has been said that there will not be any ‘reservation of seats’ constraint but entry to such pompous universities through management quota can’t be denied. These universities have been kept under the purview of University Grants Commission (UGC) for their fee regulation and admission process but the Bill itself does not state about any regulation.

  • Are we ready to face the cons of it?

With effect of this Bill coming into existence, the day is not far when the cream of faculties teaching in premium institutes like IITs and IIMs may prefer to join these institutes on grounds of better pay scale. The only check the government can impose is by increasing simultaneously the remuneration of these faculties. But there is a limit to which even this can be done. Incidents like IIT faculties going on a strike in wake of better pay package cannot always be entertained and are even derogatory for institutes of such standard. The success of these new institutes will depend largely on the quality of faculty they have and henceforth it becomes an important issue.

  • Will the Bill achieve the set objectives effectively and help India improving its education system?

As far as providing quality education is concerned, the foreign universities may achieve this set objective for Indian students, but there are lot of concerns as to which Indian strata would be able to afford this education facility. Definitely, the fee structure would be lesser as compared to what it is abroad but it is expected that the fee structure of these new institutes would not be borne easily by the middle and the lower class. Another important point which surfaces out is that whether a degree obtained from a foreign university in India will be at par with the degree of the same university abroad? Will the job scenario for a student in India after pursuing degrees from these institutes will be good enough as it is after graduating from reputed institutes like IITs and IIMs. Given these set of arguments, students may prefer to spend little extra money and get a degree from respective university established outside itself than going for the campus of the same university in India. Many of the young minds are influenced and guided by their desire to spend time in the western countries and experience the advancements of these developed countries. The main objective of learning and engaging in state-of-the-art research takes a back seat. In such a case the whole foundation of such a system of education will be weakened.

Concluding, the government has to play an active role in the success of the Foreign Institutional Bill, 2010. A strict monitoring is needed to engage the foreign institutions in a healthy competition with the existing bodies imparting higher education in the nation.

The writer is a Goa based correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student at BITS, Pilani — Goa Campus