If foreign varsities open campuses here, will the nation benefit?
There has been much debate over the proposal to liberalise the education sector and pave the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
The Government claims that since over one lakh students go abroad every year for higher studies, foreign countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., are cashing in on the trend.
If foreign universities are allowed to set up their campuses here, Indian students will get world class education at a fraction of the cost of overseas studies.
There has been no broad consensus among educationists, lecturers, students and parents on the pros and cons of this. The Hindu EducationPlus spoke to students to find out what they thought about the issue and its implications. Here’s what they had to say:
Lalitha Ramakrishnan (Fine Arts, Chitrakala Parishat): Foreign universities must be welcomed. Foreign tutors have the exposure to global perspectives and views and it will brighten the horizons of Indian students. Foreign universities will lay more emphasis on practical work than on theoretical learning.
Many more IITs and IIMs will come up, which will provide an opportunity for more number of students to get admission into foreign universities. Consequently, employment opportunities will increase. Only those who have aptitude and merit will get a seat.
Aanchal Mehta (Applied Arts, Chitrakala Parishat): Education levels and employment opportunities may increase. There will be no discrimination based on caste and creed while allotting the seats.
But I feel that foreign universities are coming to India with a business motive. The fees may be high and not many may be able to afford a seat.
The universities which want to set up campuses may not always have both business and service motives. Both are not only different, but are mutually antagonistic.
The Government must set the guidelines; otherwise the purpose for which the Government wants the foreign universities to invest will not be fulfilled.
Ajay Kamath (second PUC, Government PU College): Why do the foreign universities want to invest in India? Is it that they want to educate the vast population or is it to reap a profit?
Most of the parents are already overburdened with the high fees in colleges. And as the obvious motive of foreign universities is profit, the fees they expect will be very high. There will not be any drastic increase in enrolment in higher education. Rather, there are chances of whatever little scope for higher education being available today withering away.
Ashwini K.S. (M.Tech, R.V. College of Engineering): The foreign universities, in order to attract the students, will only introduce courses which will have a demand in the job market and the emphasis will be on skill development only.
But in my opinion, education and training are two different things. Skill and job- oriented education will not help to develop a harmonious and holistic view about a phenomenon.
The ability to analyse and comprehend a given situation will not develop. Education means imparting the knowledge of life, society and nature, which was acquired through thousands of years of struggle of mankind, to the new generation.
Arvind Sethia (Fine Arts, Chitrakala Parishat): I have planned to go abroad for higher studies. If the foreign universities come to India, then I will be able to save a lot of money. A lot of Indian students will be able to access world-class education without spending huge amounts. Also, their way of study, teaching, syllabus will be superior.
Technological transfers will take place more easily which will create surplus of talent, which is needed for our country today. It will also stop the process of brain drain.
Raghavendra B.K. (second PUC, Vivekananda College): If the foreign universities set up campuses, there is no guarantee that the fees they charge will be economical. For all we know, it may even be more expensive than what is charged by our own universities.
In our country, a large percentage of students already cannot afford higher education because of socio-economic conditions and increasing commercialisation of education.
In this scenario, the immediate task must be to increase public funding and open as many government institutions and universities as possible, which alone can guarantee education for poor and meritorious students.