Foreign education Bill hits roadblock
New Delhi, March 17
Barely two days after the Union Cabinet cleared the long-pending draft law that allows foreign education providers to set up campuses in India and offer degrees independently, principal opposition parties have objected to the bill, slamming it as “commercially driven” and one that would breed inequity.
Given the Left’s blanket opposition to the entry of foreign education providers in India and BJP’s strong apprehensions over the issue, the controversial Foreign Educational Institutions (Entry and Operation) Regulation Bill 2010 appears headed for the same road as the N-Liability Bill, which had to be withdrawn under pressure from the Opposition.
The Left parties today said they would oppose the bill’s introduction in Lok Sabha once the Parliament reconvenes on April 12 after a recess.
“We are against this law,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat told The Tribune, warning of the troubles awaiting the UPA government, which had to also shelve the Judges Standards and Accountability Bill for want of political consensus.
The BJP too is not comfortable with the foreign education providers’ law. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj today said the party had serious concerns over issues of equivalence of degrees, free structures and equity in terms of access to all students and would want discussions on it.
Former HRD minister and BJP Parliamentary Board member Murali Manohar Joshi was more vocal in his criticism of the bill: “This is nothing but wholesale corporatisation of Indian education by foreign education providers. Once foreign universities come, they will poach our teaching talent with handsome salaries. Our institutions are already facing a shortage of teachers. Also, a law that doesn’t factor in OBC reservation is unacceptable to us.” Joshi also said no foreign institution would come to India except for profit.
Communists across sections are opposing the law bitterly. Former president of the JNU students’ union Albeena Shakeel today said the law would lead to the creation of special education zones, and would legitimise education as a trade activity.
With opposition unity — even the SP is opposed — returning to haunt the law, HRD minister Kapil Sibal would have to do a good defending act if he brings the bill to Parliament. As of today, 150 foreign education providers are operating in Indian in collaboration with local partners. The All India Council for Technical Education has, however, listed 104 of them as fake.
On ground, India faces shortage of higher education institutions for its booming population. Over 30 per cent of its population is under 14 years. Only 12 per cent of all school-leavers enter college. Sibal’s promise is to raise the figure to 30 per cent by 2020.