Government on Monday approved a bill to allow foreign education providers set up campuses in India and offer degrees.
The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, was cleared by the Union Cabinet presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This paves way for its introduction in Parliament.
"This is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and benchmark quality," HRD minister Kapil Sibal said after the approval of the bill by the cabinet.
The bill seeks to regulate the entry and operation of foreign institutions, which will set up centre and offer degrees in India.
This bill was hanging fire for over last four years owing to opposition from various quarters, including the Left parties, over certain provisions. Last year, it was referred to a Committee of Secretaries which brought modifications to certain provisions earlier existed.
The bill was approved by the Cabinet without any change on Monday.
The proposed law prescribes eight-month time bound format for granting approval to foreign educational institutions to set up campuses. They will go through different levels of registration process during this period and will be finally registered with UGC or any other regulatory body in place.
The regulatory body in higher education, either UGC or any other body that would replace UGC, will scrutinise the proposals of aspiring institution as per India's priorities and advice government whether to allow the institute operate in India.
Sibal has already said that quota laws will not be applicable to foreign universities setting up campuses in India.
Though 100 per cent foreign direct investment through automatic route is permitted in the education sector since 2000, the present legal structure in India does not allow granting of degrees by foreign educational institutions here.
The proposed law would facilitate the globally- renowned institutes to participate in India's higher education sector. It will bring in foreign education providers for vocational education training also.
The foreign education providers bill is one of the major reforms bills of the HRD ministry.
A revolution larger than the one in the telecom sector awaits the education sector, Sibal said.
Three other reforms bills, which were slated to be taken up in the Cabinet, were deferred to the next meeting. These are -- Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, Educational Tribunal Bill and Accreditation Bill.