Red tape tangles US institutes’ entry into India

7 Nov

United States has cited Indian bureaucracy and uncertainty over Foreign Education Providers Bill as two major bottlenecks for setting up campuses of its foreign universities in India. A guide prepared by the Institute of International Education for the US government’s department of state

The report prepared by Parricia Chow and Kimberly Cho with the help of US-India Education Foundation also says that a legislation — Foreign Education Providers’ Bill — to alleviate bureaucratic hurdles has an “uncertain future” even though it has been introduced in Parliament.

The bill was first drafted in 1995 and its latest version was approved by the Union Cabinet in March 2010. A parliamentary standing committee has submitted its report to the HRD ministry and minister in-charge Kapil Sibal expects to introduce the bill in Parliament in winter session starting from November end.

“Disputes within the Indian government, as well as with private (education) providers has slowed down passage of the bill,” the guide named Expanding US Study Abroad to India, said. The report suggested that that US institutes interests in initiating large scale operations in India may want to focus on joint and dual degree programmes in partnership with Indian institutions, rather than wait for future opportunities to establish brick-and-mortar branch campuses in India.

US is eyeing India as the next destination for its universities considering the Central government’s ambitious target of achieving up to 30% of gross enrollment ratio in higher education by 2017, end of the 12th five year plan.

The report, however, projects Indian higher education system in a bad light saying it lacks quality control standards and national-level assessments. It also says that there are only few effective strategies to address issues of quality and accreditation and only IITs and IIMs are quality institutions of international reputation. “With over 21,000 colleges, creating national standards has been an arduous task, rife with political and social implications,” the report said.

Its consequence had been obvious with Indian universities attracting just 2,690 US students in 2008-09, a decline of 15% from the pervious year, whereas over 1.04 lakh Indian students joined American universities that year, witnessing an increase of 37% since 2005-06.

Speaking on rich-poor educational divide, the report said, the increase in fees by IITs and IIMs and private institutions has made higher education “prohibitively” expensive for the nation’s poor. “As a result, entrance examinations for top universities tend to favour the nation’s rich, who are often from large urban centers,” the report said.

The guide has advised of not eyeing India as a big market unless the government brings in structural changes in its higher education system.

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