India’s universities have produced chief executive officers at companies from Microsoft Corp. to Google — now Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks they can be even better with competition from global names like Yale, Oxford and Stanford.
PM Modi’s government is pushing to overhaul the country’s heavily regulated education sector to woo nearly 750,000 students who spend about $15 billion each year pursuing degrees overseas, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said in written responses to questions.
The legislation — which will regulate the operation of foreign universities — is being prepared for approval by the parliament, where the government retains a significant majority. It represents a change of heart for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has long resisted opening up the country’s education sector.
“There has been lot of enthusiasm,” Mr Pokhriyal said, noting that Australia’s government and some universities had shown interest in the proposal. “Very soon, India will have some of the finest, world-class institutions.”
India needs to boost its education sector to become more competitive and close the growing gap between college curricula and market demands. It’s currently ranked 72 among 132 nations in the 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index that measures the nation’s ability to grow, attract and retain talent.
Still, India’s notoriously tricky bureaucracy may be the main stumbling block for foreign universities, along with difficulties in acquiring land, academic staff and adequate infrastructure. The minister didn’t specify what incentives India will offer to attract foreign universities, except that institutions, which are required to operate not-for-profit, will be on a playing field with local players.
Some universities have already set up partnerships with Indian institutions, allowing students to partially study in India and complete their degrees on the main campus abroad. The current move encourages these overseas institutions to set up campuses without local partners.