Legislation to Allow Foreign Universities Into India May Face New Delay

November 29, 2009

Worried that a proposed law to allow foreign universities to set up shop in India still isn't attractive enough to appeal to the world's best universities, the prime minister's office has referred the bill to a panel of top government officials for possible revisions, The Telegraph, a newspaper in Calcutta, reported.

The bill, which was supposed to have been introduced in Parliament in 2007, has faced numerous delays.

Kapil Sibal, India's minister in charge of higher education, told The Chronicle in October that he expected the bill to be passed before July. But the decision by the prime minister's office may mean the legislation could undergo significant changes and be delayed again, the newspaper said. Typically, review panels take several months to complete their work.

The bill, as recently revised by Mr. Sibal, would allow foreign universities to set their own tuition rates and would exempt them from the admissions quotas that India's public universities must observe. Many observers had thought the prime minister's office might find those provisions too lenient, but, in its response, it appears to have taken the opposite view.

During a visit to the United States last week, India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and President Obama announced plans to strengthen their countries' ties in higher education, and American universities reaffirmed their interest in India. However, The Telegraph said that officials of Harvard and Yale Universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Mr. Sibal last month that they were waiting for the bill to be passed before finalizing their plans.