The government will soon introduce legislation to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in education, thus opening the doors to foreign universities setting up campuses in the country.
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath made the announcement at the India Economic Summit on Tuesday. He said the revised Foreign Education Providers Regulation Bill would soon be placed before the cabinet.
"We hope that with the new initiative we will be able to stop at least 50 per cent of the students going abroad to study," he said.
Earlier in the day, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Education, headed by HRD Minister Arjun Singh, reportedly finalised the outline of the draft legislation.
Officials said the bill, which would be piloted by the HRD Ministry, was likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament.
Though the exact contents of the bill are not known, government sources said it had proposed that all foreign universities be given the status of 'deemed universities', which would bring them under the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The bill has suggested, however, the constituting of an expert committee to study the proposals of foreign universities seeking to enter India. "If the committee deems it fit, some rules can be relaxed for reputed institutions," a minister told the Hindustan Times. He, however, refused to comment on how applying institutions will be rated.
The setting up of the expert committee is a major departure from the original bill that was referred to the GoM in July. It is also seen as a compromise between the Commerce Ministry which wanted UGC norms relaxed for foreign education providers, and the HRD Ministry which had insisted that rules should be applicable to all.
Officials said the recommendations of the panel headed by CNR Rao on the entry of foreign universities would be followed. It had suggested strict regulation of foreign education providers to check fly-by-night operators.