A team of US universities that accompanied President Barack Obama to India met officials on Tuesday to lobby for the early enactment of the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill amid lingering concerns over the legislation.
The FEI Bill, once enacted, will allow foreign universities unprecedented access to the Indian education market through collaboration with Indian institutions and by starting their own programmes here.
The president of one of these varsities said a key reason behind their presence was to seek “clarifications on lingering concerns” over the Bill, which is being “followed very closely in the US.”
Presidents or representatives of Cornell University, Stanford University, Duke University, Arizona State University, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University and Rutgers University traveled with Obama.
In a meeting with higher education secretary Vibha Puri Das, the team hinted at its concerns surrounding the Bill and the regulatory climate surrounding higher education in India. “We welcome the Bill and communicated the same to the secretary. But... we are hoping for greater clarity,” an east coast university representative said.
Many US varsities are looking investment in India as a major route for their expansion, team members said. “How the Bill pans out is critical to our growth plans,” a member said.
Despite the Bill putting place structures to reduce unnecessary bureaucratic hassles, members said “concerns remained.”
“The last thing a good educational institution wants is to get mired in unnecessary bureaucratic tangles in a foreign country,” a visiting official said.