The Union Cabinet on Monday cleared the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, for introduction in Parliament. It seeks to allow foreign education providers to set up campuses in the country and offer degrees.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said: “This is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality. A larger revolution than even in the telecom sector awaits us.”

The Foreign Universities Bill, 2010 has been pending for the last four years owing to opposition from various quarters, including the Left parties, over certain provisions. Last year, it was referred to a Committee of Secretaries which brought modifications to certain provisions.

The Bill was approved by the Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, without any change. It prescribes an eight-month, time-bound format for granting approval to foreign educational institutions to set up campuses. They will go through different levels of registration process during this period. Finally, they will be registered with the University Grants Commission or any other regulatory body to be put in place that will scrutinise the proposals of the aspiring institution as per India's priorities and advise the government whether to allow it to operate in India.

As for the reservation policy in the higher educational institutions, the law of the land will prevail. Though 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) through the automatic route is permitted in the education sector since 2000, the present legal structure does not allow granting of degrees by foreign educational institutions here.

The proposed law will facilitate the globally renowned institutes to participate in the higher education sector. It will bring in foreign education providers for vocational education training also.

3 Bills deferred

Three other reform bills, slated to be taken up in the Cabinet, were deferred to the next meeting. These are the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, the Educational Tribunal Bill and the National Accreditation Authority Bill. A Group of Ministers has already cleared the Bills.