N. Adil Kazmi, Secretary, University Grants Commission, writes:
Apropos “Government trying ‘backdoor' entry for foreign universities”, the University Grants Commission has been seriously engaged in the analysis of the findings of the various reports on foreign education providers operating in the country with regard to the standing of such providers in their respective countries, the nature of programmes offered by them and the degrees awarded, and above all, protection of the interest of students seeking admission to such foreign institutions.
Many foreign educational institutions are operating in the country offering different types of courses and programmes and there is no regulation presently in place to control and curb the operation of such institutions with academic credentials which may not even be satisfying in their own country. The UGC is aware that the AICTE Regulation of 2003 are applicable only for technical and management education but not in the other areas of higher education. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has time and again emphasised the need to put in a regulatory framework for entry and operation of foreign education providers through a UGC Regulation. This need has also been emphasised by various reports of experts/committees which include the report of the C.N.R. Rao Committee, the Study Report on foreign educational institutions (2005) by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) and the Report prepared by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) in 2012.
The impression given by The Hindu story that the UGC is going to permit foreign educational institutions through a ‘backdoor' channel is not true. The objective of the UGC is to formulate a regulatory framework which could be put in place on the lines similar to what has been laid down by the AICTE in 2003.
The MHRD has been deeply concerned with this situation and has been approaching the UGC to make a detailed analysis of the implications of the operation of such institutions in the country. In a February 1, 2012 letter, it requested the UGC to frame Regulations/Guidelines for the purpose of safeguarding the interest of the student community in India. Accordingly, the UGC constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. P. Rama Rao in March, 2012 to look into the entire issue and make recommendations which could facilitate the formulation of appropriate regulations. The Report of the Rama Rao committee was subjected to further scrutiny through another committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Ramamurthy Naidu. This committee has finalised the regulations which are now to be placed before the Commission for its consideration.
The process initiated in March, 2012 to address the concerns related to the issue of foreign educational providers, therefore, has no relationship, whatsoever, with the visit of the Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal to the USA.
Our correspondent replies:
Mr. Kazmi's ‘clarification' is self explanatory and does not controvert our report that the UGC will on Saturday be discussing and finalising regulations on foreign educational institutions. The reference in our story to ‘backdoor entry' was to contrast the decision to frame new guidelines via the UGC with the earlier plan of getting legislation passed by Parliament
As for his contention that the process initiated in March, 2012 has no relationship to the visit of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal to the U.S., The Hindu's report merely says that Mr. Sibal is scheduled to travel to Washington to participate in the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue — of which education is a part this year – where “he would like to make some announcements on joint programmes to encourage foreign educational institutions into India.”