India tries to prevent invasion of campuses

July 5, 1996

Foreign universities seeking students in India will have to put up with tougher entry rules, the University Grants Commission has announced.

It is preparing a set of guidelines to ensure that only "internationally reputed" universities, preferably those who understand the education needs of the Third World, are permitted - and only in areas where local expertise is not available.

Armaity Desai, the UGC chair, said: "We are working on criteria to check indiscriminate entry of foreign universities because we have noticed that after economic liberalisation there is a scramble among foreign institutions to get a foothold in India, and many of them are absolutely unknown quantities."

Dr Desai fears that after "the invasion of the skies" - an allusion to the proliferation of foreign satellite television networks in India - the "invasion of campuses may not be far off".

India's English-speaking urban middle class has always fancied a foreign degree, but until about three years ago the domestic education market was completely protected and the only option was to go abroad for higher education, which only the very rich could afford.

After the opening up of the economy, there is pressure on the government to extend the same courtesy to foreign educational institutions wanting to set up shop as is enjoyed by multinational companies. There is particular demand for advanced courses in business management and computer science.

Dr Desai foresees "tremendous competition" in higher education and thinks it is important to make sure that Indian campuses are not flooded with "fake" institutions. "We already have a serious problem of fake universities of our own, and I don't want to open another front," she said.

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