Central government is pushing to overhaul the country’s heavily regulated education sector to woo nearly 750,000 students who spend about $15 billion each year pursuing degrees overseas, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said.
The legislation — which will regulate the operation of foreign universities — is being prepared for approval by the parliament, where the government retains a significant majority.
“There has been lot of enthusiasm,” minister Pokhriyal said, noting that Australia’s government and some universities had shown interest in the proposal.
“Very soon, India will have some of the finest, world-class institutions,” he said.
The minister didn’t specify what incentives India will offer to attract foreign universities, except that institutions, which are required to operate not-for-profit, will be on a playing field with local players.
Some universities have already set up partnerships with Indian institutions, allowing students to partially study in India and complete their degrees on the main campus abroad.
The current move encourages these overseas institutions to set up campuses without local partners.
“We’ll seek new opportunities to further pursue such collaborations as India’s new policy is implemented,” said Joe Wong, a vice-president at the University of Toronto, which has a tie-up with Tata Trusts and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.
The University of Washington, London School of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Western Australia were among institutions that said they have no plans of setting up campuses in India. Others like McGill University and the University of Sydney said they’re looking to expand their partnerships in India through new courses or research programs.
“We have been dreaming about the possibilities of delivering degrees in India,” said Alessandro Giuliani, managing director of SDA Bocconi Asia Center, an Italian business school that operates in Mumbai.
Pokhriyal is optimistic that overseas universities will set up their campus in India to tap the nation’s young demographics, with the World Bank projecting 34% of its population will be aged between 15 and 34 years by 2021.
India had already entered into agreements on educational programs with 55 countries that include exchange of academics and students and cooperation on other initiatives, he said.
According to Pokhriyal, the new plan will double education spending to 6% of India’s GDP “at the earliest”.