Once the foreign educational institutions law is in place, will Harvard and Cambridge open campuses and offer their best programmes right here at our doorsteps? Will it change India’s higher education landscape for the better? A section of senior academics are sceptical about what the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill can do.
“Foreign universities coming to India may help overcome the dearth of quality institutions in the country. It’s also important to give them genuine autonomy and ensure that they are close replicas of their foreign campuses. Also, a level-playing field must be created between the domestic and foreign players. Students need good quality education, which includes the best faculty and infrastructure, at a reasonable price,” says Bakul Dholakia, former director, IIM Ahmedabad.
Saumen Chattopadhyay, associate professor of education at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says the arrival of overseas players “will lead to expansion of higher education, but only for the upper crust (5%) of society”. It will not be inclusive.
An open question is who will eventually turn up. According to Shyam Menon, VC, Ambedkar University, Delhi and Chattopadhyay, if institutions such as Harvard and the London School of Economics come in, it will possibly mean quality education. Menon adds, “We need to observe if they are just coming here to make money or to add value to our education system.”
But Menon is “cautiously optimistic”. Apart from giving more education options in the private sector, it will also open up the job market (for graduates), he says.