Sunday, February 7, 2010


There is an intense debate on the entry of foreign universities in India. The argument is that opening of off-shore campuses of foreign universities shall integrate Indian higher education system into the global educational system. Given the demand for foreign degrees among the Indian youth, foreign university campuses in India shall serve the interests of Indian students. Even the Yashpal committee felt that campuses of foreign universities will provide Indian academia interaction with the best minds of the world.

The General Agreement on Trade in Services of the World Trade Organization agreement considers educational services also as tradable services. This is precisely because the estimated market for educational service in the world is over one trillion dollars. Education is the fifth largest traded service by the United States. Therefore the demand for setting up of foreign universities is nothing to do with the interaction with the best global minds. Infact, such a demand is primarily coming for reasons of trade and commerce.

Infact, there is nothing wrong if the best universities of the world like the Oxford or Cambridge, Harvard, or MIT or London School of Economics set up their campuses in India even for commercial purposes. It is also acceptable if the leading corporate giants specialized in an area set up training centers or educational campuses in India. But, what is the use if the third rate universities of the West setup campuses in India and offer third rate degrees at exorbitant price capitalizing on the craze that exists in Indian youth for foreign education.

The following precautions need to be taken while allowing foreign universities in India.

1. These institutions should be globally reputed and known for academic or professional standards.

2. At least, such universities should be recognized by the parent countries.

3. These universities should not duplicate the courses offered by Indian universities. But, the foreign universities should offer courses in which India lack expertise.

4. Such courses should be recognized world wide especially in India and their parent country.

5. The fees structure, admission process, the service conditions should be in conformity with the Indian laws.

6. Collaboration with Indian universities should be encouraged.

7. All this should not be a one way street. The Indian universities should also be permitted to set up off-shore campuses in those countries.

8. The foreign universities should not be allowed to create undue competition to Indian universities through unfair means.

9. The permissions should be given case by case. Greater precaution should be taken. Foreign universities should not be allowed to flood the Indian higher education sector. The experience with indiscriminate permission given to deemed universities are a case in point.

10. These universities should not become teaching shops but emerge as academic centers for interaction between best global minds. Proper regulation is required. Effective regulatory mechanism should be put in place before embarking upon any policy change.

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