This refers to the article, ‘Are foreign universities the panacea?' (Open Page, May 9). Here are some points to ponder on the issue of allowing foreign universities to set up campuses here: Who will be the actual beneficiaries of this move? While the imported campuses will provide more facilities to the already privileged sections which can afford anything, domestic universities will still be responsible for providing affordable education to the larger chunk of the population.
Foreign universities cannot be expected to have any philanthropic motive, thereby increasing the probability of their generating a skilled labour force for their requirement. Hoping for universities of the calibre of Harvard and Yale to come to India appears chimerical. It is a globalised world and the existence of universities such as Oxford and Harvard should be perceived as a threat by Indian universities. Effort should be at improving the infrastructure of our domestic universities.
The objections to the reform-oriented foreign universities bill do not seem to be on sound footing nor do they stand the scrutiny of logic. They are mostly ideological and political in nature. With some tweaking of the bill, these objections can be handled.
First, instead of waiting for foreign universities to approach us the government should identify the best ones and invite them to open their campuses here. This will ensure that institutions of questionable-reputation do not enter the country. Secondly, there should be a cap on the percentage of faculty to be recruited from within the country. Thirdly, the entire admission process should be merit-oriented with a provision for reservation for the meritorious among the disadvantaged sections. All those who get selected should be automatically eligible for educational loans on liberal terms. This will guarantee social justice and allay the fears that only the rich will garner all the seats.
It is an acknowledged fact that India is more advanced in higher education than many other countries in the world. But HRD Minister Kabil Sibal seems to think otherwise, having gone in for a revamp of the education policy. Our IIMs, IITs and IISc and many other privately-supported institutions are comparable to the best in the world. All we need to do is to help create more such institutions. Get top NRI faculty to teach in Indian varsities. We don't need universities with a foreign tag. Good teachers living and teaching in India are enough.
A. Bright Rathinam,