The students’ body of the ruling Congress has raised a series of concerns over a landmark proposed legislation to allow and regulate foreign universities in India, complicating the government's long-standing efforts to pass the Bill.
The National Students' Union of India (NSUI) has petitioned the Parliament Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) demanding that contrary to what the Bill proposes, the government cap the fees charged by foreign universities. Though stating that it broadly welcomes the Bill, the NSUI has also demanded a common entrance examination for all foreign universities.
In its petition to the Parliament panel, the students' body has also demanded a limit on the number of foreign students these universities can enrol in the Indian campuses, sources have told HT.
All these demands are contrary to the government's position on the Bill. The government is concerned that such over-regulatory proposals will be unacceptable to the best universities across the world, which may choose to stay out of India.
The BJP's student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the CPI-backed All India Students' Federation (AISF), the CPM's Students' Federation of India (SFI) and other Left-leaning student bodies have also petitioned the Standing Committee. The House panel, which is at a key stage of deliberations on the Bill, has summoned HRD ministry officials later this week to respond to these petitions.
While the ABVP, like the NSUI has both raised its concerns over the Bill and citing possible benefits - such as world-class educational opportunities for the Indian students - the Left student bodies have opposed the legislation.
But government sources accepted that the substantive nature of the concerns raised by the NSUI could prove an impediment in the passage of the Bill. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is in-charge of the NSUI and sections of the government are wondering whether the petition had his blessings. The NSUI petition also seeks quotas for SC, ST and other backward category students.
Indian private universities are not required to maintain student quotas.