The Foreign Universities Bill will be a “disaster” for higher education in India and the Union Cabinet must have a relook into the whole issue, A. James William, president, All India Federation of University and College Teachers' Organisations (AIFUCTO), has said.

He has urged Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal to understand the contention of AIFUCTO that the entry of foreign universities into the country would be a “proxy to commercialisation of higher education.”

Addressing a meeting on Foreign Universities Bill, organised by the Indian Institute of Social Sciences here on Thursday, Prof. William said that the AIFUCTO had been meeting the leaders of various political parties to seek their support in opposing the Bill.

“The Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, approved by the Cabinet, will kill higher education in India. Reasons cited by Mr. Sibal in support of the Bill are not acceptable to us due to socio-economic factors,” he said.

Cost factor

Stating that the proposed Bill would not be able to improve access to higher education owing to the cost factor, the AIFUCTO president said that the Union Government/HRD Ministry must think about the paying capacity of Indian students. “When our students are not in a position to pay, what is the necessity for this Bill? Moreover, will reputed global universities such as Cambridge, Oxford or Harvard come to India and set up their facilities,” he questioned.

Stating that 169 foreign institutions were already in India, he charged that many of these institutions had not been accredited in their own countries. “We strongly feel that the so called quality aspects being talked about by the Union Minister about improving the quality of higher education may not be possible since the quality in a foreign university's campus in India will not be the same as of the original university. A few foreign universities had even closed their facilities in Singapore,” he said.

The AIFUCTO president contended that many Indian students were going abroad to pursue higher education only with the intention of settling down there after getting a job. “They are not joining a foreign university just for quality alone. This point has to be looked into in detail,” he suggested.

Opposing the Foreign Universities Bill, he said that education was not about knowledge or skills alone. “It is about dissemination of values to our students. This will be possible only by Indian educational institutions,” he said. Another reason cited by him for opposing the Bill was that foreign universities which would establish their facilities in India would be churning out employees only for multi-national companies.

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