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Opening India's Education Goldmine

Opening India's Education Goldmine

March 21, 2010

Approval of the Foreign Education Bill could be a huge business opportunity for foreign universities.

Just as the euphoria over the Women’s Reservation Bill settles down, another exciting announcement comes from the political corridors in New Delhi. After almost 15 years of debate, the Union Cabinet has unanimously approved a bill that will allow foreign universities to set up shop in India. Until now, an FDI of 100% is allowed in the education sector but international universities have not been allowed to have their own campuses in the country. They can only collaborate or have link programs with Indian universities. This bill proposes to change that and soon Indian students will be able to get a degree from a foreign university without having to actually go abroad.

This bill opens up a whole gamut of opportunities for foreign universities wanting to tap into the massive higher education market in India, at a time when government funding and budgets are being squeezed in countries like the UK because of the global financial crisis. There are already over 200 collaborations or joint programs up and running and given the enormous demand for quality education among India’s burgeoning middle classes, there is a big opportunity in the waiting. With a severe shortfall of good colleges and universities equipped to meet the current needs and demands of students, the wealthier lot often choose to go abroad because of issues like quotas and reservations. India faces an annual outflow of over $4 billion every year, not to mention the flight of talent who eventually choose to settle abroad causing what is often referred to as the ‘brain drain’.

This bill will hopefully arrest that, at the same time giving more students who cannot afford to study overseas a chance at getting a foreign degree at home. What’s more, this would hopefully be an incentive for Indian universities to get their act together as they are faced with more competition. On the other hand, it could also help draw more foreign students to the country and help India build its image as the next education hub. With its exotic appeal and cheap conversion rate it is foreseeable that many foreign students wanting a bit of adventure would come and spend a year doing a master’s program. Also, the English language gives India an added advantage.

There are worries, though, that if not properly regulated and overseen for quality and curriculum this could turn into a money-making racket. It wouldn’t be difficult for bogus colleges to pay off officials and get licenses given the huge corruption in the Indian bureaucracy. There are far too many private sector colleges (often run by politicians) engaging in dubious money-making activities, and it isn’t entirely impossible to envisage such a scenario with foreign players.

But on the whole, this is a big step forward in realizing India’s longstanding need for good higher education institutes and also a massive business opportunity for foreign universities. Of course, it remains to be seen how soon it is voted into law given the balancing act the government often has to do in coalition politics (it has already hit its first roadblock with the opposition objecting to it), but at least it is the first step in the right direction.


  • Manish Peter Parmar
    Manish Peter Parmar
    02.05.11 02:59 PM
    Academic Greetings from Gujarat, India.

    It gives me immense pleasure in writing a letter to you for academic collaborations and tie ups with your esteemed University.

    Our institute Christian College of Management Studies is managed by Gujarat Christian Service Society, Gujarat, India.

    Gujarat Christian Service Society is Government registered public charitable trust, registered in the year 1969. Gujarat Christian Service Society functions under the principles of love and humanity and gives its services to all the needy without discrimination of caste, color or creed.

    Gujarat Christian Service Society runs more than 61 institutes which includes pre-primary to higher secondary English medium schools, Primary teacher training college, graduate teacher training college, college for management studies, college for computer application etc. It also runs computer centers, Medical health centers, nursing homes, conference centre, orphanage homes, Hostels, agriculture centers etc.

    We, at Christian College of Management Studies run BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) & BCA (Bachelor of Computer Application) programs under CBCS (Choice Based Credit System) pattern and which are affiliated to the Sardar Patel University, Gujarat, India.

    I would like to inform you that our vibrant economy and the steady economic progress are quite well to attract students from the foreign universities for collaborative programmes, projects and field trips to India.

    We are also expecting mutual visits of delegations from your side as part of this understanding. Other than academics, you will also found extra co-curricular activities, cultural programmes, music festivals both inside and outside the campus.

    The MOU for cooperation in higher education will see a greater exchange of students at undergraduate, post graduate level and for short term awards for faculty and students. Under the MOU, the holding of joint workshop, seminars, special programs, professional and academic development has been envisaged.

    Our graduate students will come there for higher education like MBA and other related courses after getting degree here in India.

    You must be agree that this cooperation would help us to build the knowledge economy of the future.

    Hence, I request you to kindly extend your warm support towards new relations with us in India in this 21st century.

    Looking forward your anticipation and positive response toward academic tie ups and collaborations.
  • pravash dey
    pravash dey
    04.09.10 05:12 PM
    I personally totally agree with you, Nalini. However what worries me is the sustainable competition from domestic prospectives. How domestic institution can compete with overseas universities?
    1. they lack investment.
    2. quality of infrastructure.
    3. teaching standards, research and development.
    4. entrepreneur mindsets.
    If 'quality in leadership' is what matters then why can't Indian universities/ B'schools/ private colleges recruit professionals from overseas and bring talents inside the country? stop corruption @ top level and provide opportunity to right person for the right job. What exactly, we are trying to achieve by inviting foreign universities? I have done my first masters in one of the top B'school in India and then again MBA from one of the top ranking university in the UK. I can relate the difference based on experience...The only difference is Practical usages of classroom knowledge. So, what exactly we need is 'changing the methodology'- dream, dare and do- bring the academics and corporates together and focus on innovation, creativity , etc.
  • Nalini Hebbar
    Nalini Hebbar
    21.03.10 01:33 PM
    All is well if it ends well...looking at all the starry eyed educated we produce, they start learning and earning only on a job...our education churns out quite a few 'followers' and very few 'leaders'...this needs to be turned around...education needs to convert naturally talented Indians into 'creators'...more the competition the better, it will keep our institutions on their toes!

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