India is mainly an importer of higher education. To a smaller degree, the country is also an exporter of educational programmes. In response to globalization, the UGC has initiated a programme for the Promotion of Indian Higher Education Abroad (PIHEAD), which will run through the tenth five-year plan (2002-07). Education in India is considered to be a social service and is accorded the status of public good. The recognition of the education sector as a tradable service sector under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) – World Trade Organization (WTO) regime has challenged India’s understanding of education as a social service. In the absence of any national policy to regulate the foreign education service providers, India has witnessed liberalization of the sector. Thus, the presence of foreign universities in India may, in future, turn towards commercialization against Central governments or the Supreme Court’s view that education is not for profit. According to WES, the UGC expresses concern about the commercial presence of foreign educational institutions and fears that higher education will be limited to the select few as there will be a higher price for acquiring any foreign degree. Another concern is that commercialization will promote privatization that will, in turn, increase the cost of higher education. In 2005, AICTE has drawn up a fresh set of regulations to monitor foreign technical education institutions and prevent the entry of non- accredited institutes into the country. The new rules will replace the earlier mandate issued by the AICTE in April 2003. Under the new system, foreign institutions will be treated on a par with Indian technical institutions and will be governed by AICTE guidelines. They will not be allowed to appoint additional campuses in India. “Education innovations, including experimentation with different modes of delivery by a foreign university, shall be allowed, provided such a system is well established either in their parent country or in India,” state the regulations on the AICTE website. AICTE will stipulate the fee and the intake for each course to be offered by foreign education providers.
Ashwani Lochan Aggarwal