No Harvard in your backyard

HRD ministry admits that universities of global repute may not be setting up campuses in India


Jasleen Kaur | May 18, 2010

Even as the government clears the way for foreign universities to set up shop in India, the giants will be conspicuously absent. By the HRD ministry's own admission, India is still a long way from playing host to a Harvard or a Stanford. The best that the burgeoning club of degree-seekers in the country can expect from the Ivy league and those leagues ahead are 'skill development courses'.

The government introduced the foreign universities bill in the last session of Parliament, which it hopes will get foreign players interested in the edu-biz market in India. But, HRD minister Kapil Sibal said that the leading universities like Harvard and Stanford may not be interested to set up campus here in near future.

“I do not think they will come here for higher education but they may come for skill development.” Indian institutions may have twin arrangements or joint degrees collaborations with the foreign institution, Sibal told reporters on the sidelines of Shri Ram memorial lecture here on Monday.

The minister, incidentally, had toured Australia, New Zealand, UK and US much before even the bill was introduced, trying to drum up the interest of the universities there.

Emphasizing on increasing the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education, Sibal said it requires inclusive agenda. He also said that shortage of teachers is a problem and the government requires 12 lakh teachers to implement Right to Education Act(RTE).

Sibal was critical about the poor participation of private sector and said to meet the huge demand-supply gap in the education sector; the private sector should come forward and help the government in nation building.  "The private sector will have to find a practical way to collaborate with the government as it has not done much in this sector," he said. He further said that the government may allow private sector to use the government infrastructure like school buildings, after the school hours, for skill development programmes, which students from marginalised groups can avail free of charge.

On his report card, as the UPA-II completes one year, Sibal said that the reforms in education sector have just started and there is a long road ahead. “Enactment of some legislation or introduction of certain bills is just the beginning. The road ahead is very long. But we are committed to take it forward.

Sibal praised Home Minister P Chadmbaram and said the country is prepared for any eventualities. “The Home Minister has created such an environment that people feel the country's security is in safe hands. This is certainly true that the country is prepared for any eventualities. We have a sense of comfort. That is second major achievement of the country," he said. He said the biggest achievement of the UPA-II is the successful handling of country's economy during the recession.






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