Foreign Universities Bill, India 2010

Here is a copy of the Foreign Universities Bill 2010 presented in the Indian parliament. Apart from the critique, corpus fund requirement of 50 crore rupees (~US$11m ) has already received, there are two other clauses which I find troublesome:

1. Distant/online learning is not welcome: The bill defines foreign institution as one offering “conventional method…not including distant mode.” Given that Indian higher education needs innovation, cost-effectiveness and accessibility and distance/online learning technologies are well placed to address some of the these issues, this restriction seems out of context. Here it is also important to note that quality of distance education in India is very poor and hence introduction of new foreign partners may help improve the quality. Government need to define measures of quality for assessing good online education providers and not necessarily eliminate the whole channel.

2. Intent to limit institutional autonomy: The bill states that foreign institution need to publish information about “the number of seats approved by the statutory authority in respect of each course or programme of study.” This is again a regressive way to rationing and regulating enrollments and it directly impacts innovation, growth and feasibility of new projects. Current policy structure with AICTE etc. was also having the similar problem of trying to control the demand instead of creating standards of quality and competitiveness in the system.

The current form of bill is taking a parochial view on two primary aspects
1) diversity of global higher education institutions
2) measures of institutional quality
It is encouraging to see that the bill is moving forward, however it needs to evolve significantly to maximize the benefits for stakeholders.

I have also published an article in EDU magazine on the segments of foreign universities seeking to engage with Indian higher education. There are three primary segments and each has different needs, challenges and opportunities for entering India. Policymakers and institutions interested in partnering with foreign universities need to better understand the landscape and segment of foreign institutions to build effective international academic collaborations.

1. Prestige-enhancing (top-50 research universities)
2. Prestige-seeking (next-tier of 100 universities)
3. Revenue/profit maximizing (universities beyond top 150)

Any thoughts/comments?

– Dr. Rahul Choudaha


  1. India is at the crossroad of capacity and capability for higher education. The intent of getting foriegn universities into India is to provide quality education within Indian setting at cheaper prices.Since private education in India has been primarily within the control of politico entrepreneurs, they are playing an opportune game now to thwart. What they seek is just a on paper collaboration for a student certification. Research in Indian universities of private and governmental kind has never been a strength. Most are content with Jugadu work. The entire higher education today is driven for employability. So from the students aspect, the certification premium is high. I am certain that online , may be a basic neccessity for capacity purposes, but the system will go through several iterations before a political lobby can accept , acknowledge and approve. With 71 million internet users and growing, may be the pressure may come from some other quarter such as telecom companies.

  2. Read your post. Not sure if this would fit here..but, well I would like to tell you about India's first teleclassroom network – Edyounet – and They intend to reach remote corners of India to provide quality education to common man by partnering with institutes and colleges in India and abroad. Since you are an expert in education, I thought you may be interested to know more about this concept. I came across them while doing a story and found their concept interesting.

  3. This Bill is absurd. How can we allow foreign institutions to shape the whole generation of our nation! This is like paving a highway to propagate western propaganda into indian nationals. This may seem stupid now but think in long terms, one can find the obvious reasons. All i am saying is improve conditions of our institutions, allow them to engage with other institutions and learn from them. But opening doors for them is not the solution.

  4. Please have a look at this great guidebook ‘Study in India – A Guide by Knowledge Must’, which is available for free download from

    Life for international students will be so much easier once they figured out the logistical requirements and the Indian cultural environment. In addition to answering the most pressing questions, the guide features valuable insights ranging from logistics such as visa procedures and accommodation arrangements to cultural background information and inspiration for how to spend one's leisure time.

  5. Allowing foreign universities to operate in India, a by-product of the WTO Agreement , surely bring competition in higher eeucaion in India. Traditonally moulded Indian universities are forced to make innovations and adaptations just for survival. Foregin universities have to compete with Indian universities for survival. The net result is that the student and acadeic community in India will be benefitted. Let unfit Indian or foreign universiites be closed down.

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