Monday, September 28, 2009

Relief for private foreign universities: Quota law not binding

Foreign universities and education providers setting up campuses in India are unlikely to be required to provide for reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other backward classes (OBC). Even as Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said that reservation laws as applicable to Indian institutions would apply to foreign universities setting up campuses in India. Only government education institutions are required by law to provide for reservation quotas; private unaided institutions are not required to set aside seats for SCs, STs and OBCs. Reservation laws as applicable to Indian institutes will be applicable to the foreign institutes. There will be no discrimination, Mr. Sibal said. Mr. Sibal said that he favours 100 per cent ownership of the Indian campuses by the foreign universities, a clear indication that the Indian campuses of foreign universities are likely to be private entities. This would mean that the campuses of these foreign education providers are likely to be exempt from adhering to reservation laws.

The Cabinet is expected to take up the legislation allowing foreign universities and education providers to set up campuses in India shortly. Mr. Sibal said that some well known foreign universities had already approached the Ministry with proposal for setting up of campuses. The minister hopes that the foreign universities may start operations by next year. Foreign education providers will be required to take clearance from the accreditation committee for quality control before being allowed to set up campuses in India. All foreign universities will be required to be accredited in their country of origin and be in existence for at least 10 years before setting up campus in India. Mr. Sibal favours the idea of foreign universities having 100 per cent ownership of their campuses in India. If there is 100 per cent ownership of private sector here, why not 100 per cent ownership of foreign universities, the minister said.

The minister accepted that that there would be objections from political parties to the provision of 100 per cent ownership to the foreign universities. The Left has been among the most vociferous opponents of the proposal to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India. Mr. Sibal said, "There will be objection. There is no process of change without objections. And I welcome objections. I welcome dialogue".

Foreign education institutes will not be allowed to repatriate surplus income generated at their campuses in India. The surplus has to be spent for the expansion of the campus within the country. To ensure that no fly-by-night operators come to India, the aspiring institutes will have to go through the accreditation procedure of the country. The foreign education providers will be regulated by University Grants Commission (UGC) and any successive regulatory body.

Source: The Economic Times

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