Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Foreign University Bill gets panel’s support

A parliamentary panel on Monday supported a proposed Foreign University Bill that seeks to allow overseas educational institutes to set up campuses in India and award academic degrees. The Parliamentary Standing Committee related to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) said the proposed legislation will help maintain the “standards of higher education within the country... The committee also feels that enactment of such legislation will provide enhanced research opportunities and access to innovative areas of study to Indian students”.

Allaying concerns about reservation for weaker sections of society in foreign universities, the committee headed by Congress party parliamentarian and former labour minister Oscar Fernandes said these institutes will not be obliged to adopt reservations on the basis of caste. “Since the reservation law is not applicable to private higher educational institutes at present, it cannot be made applicable to foreign educational institutions for the time being.”

The panel, after examining suggestions from various stakeholders for 14 months, however, said such legislation is necessary as regulators such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have failed to perform their duty efficiently. “What is more disturbing is that AICTE regulations for entry and operation of foreign universities imparting technical education in India notified on 16 May 2005 have failed to regulate the activities of foreign education providers dealing with technical education,” the report prepared by the panel said, adding that only “five-six institutions” running programmes with foreign entities without approval from AICTE have been issued notice.

The panel has suggested that only institutes accredited by their home country should be allowed to start operations in India for the sake of quality education. This was also pointed out by an expert committee headed by scientist Prof. C.N.R. Rao. The Bill, however, has not said that so far. The committee report is significant in the wake of Indian students being cheated by universities such as Tri-Valley and Northern Virginia in the US, which did not have accreditation in their home country.

The “committee feels that recommendations regarding initial approval, that too, for only those foreign education providers accredited in the home country followed by extension of approval after review of their performance needs to be looked into”, the report stated, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

Source: Mint, August 2, 2011
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