Making a case for permitting foreign universities to open campuses in India, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia on Thursday said the ministry has worked out a proposal to relax norms in the services sector, including higher education.
“We have worked on a draft note for consideration of the government which looks at the domestic reforms necessary in the services sector and this includes higher education,” Teaotia said here at the Ficci Higher Education Summit.
She said the services sector contributes significantly to the country’s growth, trade and in terms of attracting foreign direct investments.
She said that as the world economy is shifting to high-end manufacturing, there is need to enhance collaboration with the higher education sector.
There is a need to focus on improving infrastructure in higher education as its demand is huge in the country, she said, adding that India has a huge potential to attract global students.
The largest exporters of education services are the US, UK and Europe and China and India are the largest net importers.
About 2,30,000 Indian students go abroad for study and almost one lakh go annually to the US, she said, adding that “the actual value of this in economic terms of Indians studying abroad is about USD 17 billion and it is a huge amount that we need to to see”.
This is the unmet demand in the country, the secretary said.
Teaotia said the department of commerce has recognised the export potential for the sector and at its services conclave, export of education services remains a focus area.
Based on the deliberations, an inter-ministerial group was set up and this group is instrumental in preparing reforms agenda for the higher education sector.
She further said factors that make India a preferred destination for higher education include India’s capacity to provide low cost of higher education as against many other developed countries, English-speaking population and world-reputed technical and professionals institutions.
“We should be looking at areas like setting up of campuses of foreign universities in special economic zones, where foreign students can study and such centres can offer global curriculum,” she added.
India offers “quality education and opportunities for foreign universities to set up campuses in India”, the secretary said, adding that it can lead to savings of billions of dollars that Indian students spend when they go abroad to study.
“I believe that this should be an area of focus for policymakers,” she added.
According to Teaotia, as policymakers, they need to be sensitive to the needs of students who come to study in India in terms of both policy framework, creating a conducive and welcoming environment and making visa regime friendlier..