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Kapil Sibal questions opposition to foreign investment in education

Source : Times of India
Aug 28, 2012

Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal's frustration over opposition to the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill is understandable. Questioning the hostility of some opposition parties to foreign investment in the key sector at a recent education conclave, he pointed out that if foreign universities were allowed to set up campuses in India, they would teach Indian students, not foreigners. Given the massive demand for quality higher education, inviting foreign universities to set up bases here is critical to addressing the supply-side shortfall. Consider that India needs another 800 universities by 2020 to address the educational needs of 45 million students. This demand simply cannot be met by indigenous varsities alone.

 

Foreign universities would provide a much-needed boost to educational standards in India. It's alarming that not a single Indian university features among the top 100 in global rankings. If India is to emerge as a knowledge and innovation hub, it must reform its higher educationsystem. Students today have limited choices in terms of quality academic institutions and are forced to seek greener pastures abroad. However, if foreign universities are allowed to come in, this brain drain could be reversed, saving the country massive outflows of talent and resources.

 

The fear that foreign varsities would supplant domestic curricula and academic traditions is unfounded. Such insular tendencies have no place in an increasingly globalised world, characterised by free flow of knowledge and collaborative academic endeavours. The main factor motivating opposition to foreign universities is reluctance on the part of domestic varsities to pull up their socks and compete for students and faculty. This is directly linked to the unspoken policy of using educational institutions to disburse political patronage. It's, therefore, high time we had a shake-up.


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