A Group of Ministers on Tuesday reportedly finalised the basic outline of the draft legislation to allow entry of foreign education providers in India. However, the officials of the HRD ministry refused to comment on the GoM meeting, held in the chambers of HRD minister Arjun Singh.
Officials, however, said the revised Foreign Education Providers (FEP) Regulation Bill, to be piloted by the HRD ministry, is likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament.
Though the exact contents of the revised bill were not known, government sources said, an important change from the original bill is setting up of an expert committee to study the proposals from reputed foreign universities for setting up campuses in India. "If the committee deems it fit some relaxation can be offered to these institutions," a Cabinet minister told HT. But, refused to comment on the methodology for rating the institutes of repute.
As per the revised bill all foreign universities will get the status of Deemed Universities, thereby bringing them under the University Grants Commission regulations. But, the expert committee can give some relaxation to reputed foreign universities from the UGC guidelines. This is being termed as a mid-way approach as the Commerce ministry was seeking relaxation from UGC norms for foreign education providers, while the HRD was insisting on applying all norms for FEPs.
Officials said, the move could attract foreign universities in India while keeping in terms with the recommendations of the CNR Rao Committee on checking entry of fly by night operators. The committee had suggested strict regulation for FEPs in a bid to check fly by night operators and had said that most of those who had shown interest to come to India may not stay here for long.
The GoM headed by Arjun Singh have Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Finance Minister P Chidambaram as members and Deputy Chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Aluwalia and Overseas Affairs minister Vayalar Ravi as special invitees.
Kamal Nath, at the India Economic Summit, 2006 announced that the government would soon draft a new legislation to allow foreign higher education institutions to play a role in the higher education sector in India. Arguing for a more open ended approach, he said, while there is apprehension that foreign universities may lure away Indian professors there is also a likely hood that NRI professors may be attracted back to India. He also pointed out that 1.30 lakh Indian students go abroad for higher studies every year.