The revised Foreign Education Providers bill having some exemptions for reputed foreign universities like Harvard is likely to be considered at the Group of Ministers meeting slated for November 1.
According to government sources, the GoM headed by Foreign Minister Pranab Mukerjee has reportedly concurred that a high level expert committee should be constituted to consider proposals of "centres of global excellence".
“The committee will decide what exemptions can be given to the foreign university and will check fly by night operators,” an official said.
When asked whether the exemption will include reservation, the official said, the decision on the issue would be prerogative of the committee. The original bill had stringent clauses like a corpus of Rs 10 crore as mandatory condition for entry of foreign universities.
The GoM has, however, decided that foreign universities will get status of Deemed Universities, thereby bringing them under the fold of government regulation. “It is also a requirement under WTO regulations,” an official said.
The GoM has asked Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal to incorporate the suggestions in the bill and present it before the GoM. Once that is done, the HRD ministry is expected to bring the bill for Cabinet consideration to ensure its introduction in the winter session of Parliament.
A day before the GoM, a committee of secretaries is expected to discuss a proposal of the ministry of Overseas Affairs to allow Special Economic Zones for universities funded by Non-Resident Indians or Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs).
Officials from HRD ministry, Commerce ministry and Planning commission are expected to participate in the meeting.
“The proposal has been revived in wake of SEZ boom in the country,” a Planning Commission official commented.
With the foreign education providers issue to be settled soon, the HRD ministry is looking at a ways to tackle the issues raised by private deemed universities at a meeting with HRD minister Arjun Singh on Thursday.
There were differences between HRD ministry and private deemed university officials over the implementation mode. Universities sought an increase in NRI quota to 15 per cent, autonomy to decide fee and seat structure, allowing more than 54 per cent increase in seats and not enforcing admission criteria for students from the weaker section.
Some universities also wanted government to compensate for rebate envisaged for students from weaker section to prevent general category students paying higher fees.