With India opening its doors to foreign universities, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday asked international education providers to come to India to set up low cost centres for development of human resources.
Sibal's views received prompt support from Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Education S Iswaran, who said introduction of the Foreign Educational Institution Bill would set a stage for more meaningful collaborations between India and the city state.
"International corporations were already setting up their research centres in India largely to benefit from the lower operating costs. Likewise, international educational institutions should see India as a low cost centre for development human resources," Sibal said.
Sibal said new law related to establishment of such institution was being refined while old education systems, regulations and laws were being restructured and it was being made easier for an overseas university to operate in India.
The bill is aimed at allowing operation of foreign educational institutions in India.
India will need at least 800 more universities and another 4,000 colleges in the next 10 years to increase the percentage of students going for higher education from the present 12.4 per cent in the country, Sibal said.
Both the ministers were speaking at a programme titled "Higher Education in India: Opportunities and Prospects".
"Given our two countries' similar emphases on developing skilled manpower, Singapore will be watching and learning from India's progress in the realm of higher education with considerable interest," Iswaran said.
"Our universities recognise the importance of India as a strategic partner in higher education, in particular the high quality of education and research undertaken by the Indian universities."
Highlighting the projected university-level education requirement in India, Sibal said foreign investors should consider investing in the main base of human resources like India and China.
It would not be wiser to take a high potential student to study abroad at an ever increasing cost while it would be cost-wise easier to educate an increasing number of Indians, and at one-third the cost when compared to having a student study in the US and Australia, he said.
India's fast-pace double-digit economic growth in the future would demand world-class education system which the government was now aiming to establish both in collaboration with international institutions and or allow them to be set up as individual universities, which would be accredited by a new education council, he said.
The Singaporean minister said that National University of Singapore (NUS) currently doing several joint research projects with the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai and Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute and student exchange programmes with Kolkata and Mumbai-based universities.