Philip Altbach, in The Hindu:
If Mr. Sibal believes that he will easily get well-functioning, top quality foreign universities to set up shop in India quickly, he is mistaken. It is likely that some of the for-profit providers, such as Laureate and Apollo, will be most interested. These institutions, which have operated successfully in many countries, are not seen as prestigious institutions. University transplants frequently have experienced significant logistical problems. A challenge involves convincing professors and staff from the home campus to teach abroad. Indeed, this ordeal often acts as the Achilles’ heel of foreign providers, for in almost every case, they end up hiring local staff to teach. It may be sufficient for Indians to study in an ostensibly foreign institution in India taught by local professors; the students may end up with a foreign degree but not with much of an international experience. Just as important, if the foreign institution cannot earn a quick profit, it might well pull up stakes and leave or, alternatively, reduce costs by lowering the quality.
First, a few observations: (a) foreign universities are unlikely to be inexpensive; so they will likely be a niche player catering to a small population that's reasonably well off. Therefore, their direct impact on higher ed scene in India is likely minuscule. (b) they are more likely to be teaching shops -- even if they are branch campuses of NYU or Stanford -- rather than 'real universities.' (c) they will have to depend quite heavily on local teaching talent.
As far as I'm concerned, (a) and (b) are neutral, while (c) is a positive. But there's also a big indirect positive that I see with the entry of foreign universities: India's higher ed regulators will be under pressure to be strict in enforcing their rules and quality norms; in order to appear impartial, they will have to do the same with Indian institutions as well. This is good for all students.
I'm all for letting them in as long as they don't ask for concessions (such as land grants).
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On a related note, a couple of links:
In a March 30 letter, UGC Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat asked the vice-chancellors to draw up a road map of reforms with a solid action plan. Prof. Thorat’s directive has come in the wake of the suggestions made by the UGC’s Committee on Academic and Administrative Reforms, headed by A. Gnanam.
Based on the Gnanam committee report, the commission has suggested an action plan to be implemented in a phased manner. When the Central universities have been asked to implement the reforms in two years, all State universities have been given three years.
The UGC has identified five core reform areas: semester system, choice-based credit system, curriculum development, admission procedures and examination reforms.
The UGC is banning MPhil and PhD programmes offered through correspondence or distance learning under a notification to enforce stricter screening of research programmes at higher education institutions.
Specifying minimum standards and procedures to award MPhil and PhD degrees for the first time, the UGC today unveiled plans that could make substandard research tougher.