The Narendra Modi government has dusted off its predecessor UPAs plan to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India, seemingly reversing the ruling BJPs earlier stance on the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill. The government is keen to revive this bill, which allows foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
In a strategy paper shared with the ministries of external affairs and human resource development, and NITI Aayog last month, the commerce ministry argued in favour of internationalisation of Indian education to earn more foreign exchange and create an Educated in India brand.
The resurrection of the bill, which lapsed with the end of the 15th Lok Sabha, is one of the four action points cited by the ministry. When the UPA had introduced it, the legislation was bitterly opposed by the Opposition parties, including the BJP, Left and Samajwadi Party.
There is a huge opportunity for foreign institutions to set up campuses in India. Foreign universities along with good quality Indian institutions will attract students and promote India as a hub in Asia for quality higher education and thus increase Indias export of education services, says the proposal, a copy of which was seen by ET.
The strategy paper was shared as a follow-up to a meeting held at the commerce ministry on January 12. Global trade in higher education is a growing sector. We have a number of strengths including cost advantage and good number of English speaking professionals. Our geographical location makes India a viable destination for Asian students, said a government official familiar with the discussions. There is at present no legal and regulatory framework to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
The commerce ministry wants the department of higher education under the HRD ministry to ensure early passage of the bill, albeit with a few changes. The thrust of the present bill (UPA bill) appears to be regulation of malpractices rather than encouraging foreign universities, the proposal says.