A long awaited bill has gone to Parliament.
By Siddharth Theodore
NEW DELHI: The dream of getting a degree from a university in the United States has come nearer home, and may soon be more accessible to millions of Indian students.
These aspirants need not worry about the weak rupee against the dollar to cover the cost of an US education. Studying for a world class foreign degree at rupee cost is soon going to be a reality if the policy initiatives taken by the government in 2010, finally become law this year.
The Ministry of human Resource Development had come out with the Foreign Education Providers Bill in 2010 that would permit foreign universities to set up campuses in India. The Bill is now awaiting the nod of both the houses in Parliament.
The government is in the process of finalizing regulations that seek to achieve the goals of the Bill which in its current form had placed certain conditions like a minimum Rs. 500 million investment and restriction sending back profits, by universities planning to set up campuses in India.
This could be a dampener. The government order sets a caveat that foreign universities will have to operate as ‘Section 25’ companies or not-for-profit entities, and will not be allowed to repatriate their earnings. Also, they need to deposit Rs. 25 crore with the HRD ministry which they could forfeit in case of any violation of rules.
Many argue the incentive for foreign universities to set up establishments in India would have to be more than just the love of educating Indians. The proposed law can thus provide a breather by providing access to an overseas education at an affordable cost. Once these foreign universities set up their institutions in India they would bring with them the best practices of research and training, curricula and create new benchmarks, forcing many domestic universities to improve the quality of their education.
Also, experts point out that it would also keep a check on brain drain as students who may opt for an offshore job may stay put in India for higher studies. Many universities in the US, including Duke, had been keen on setting up a campus in India. And now these institutions may revive their India plans once the Bill is passed and the law enacted in the near future.
(Siddharth Theodore is currently pursuing a course majoring in History from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University. He is a keen cricketer and loves to hike.)
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