ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Merits of Branch Campuses

This refers to your editorial “For the Elites” (3 April 2010). The decision to invite foreign universities to open branch campuses in India has received bouquets and brickbats. The editorial unfortunately prefers to criticise the policy decision only and remains silent regarding its merits. Surely Indian universities are in no match for universities like Harvard, MIT, Oxford and Cambridge. Hence, the government aspires to invite those institutions to improve Indian higher education. Since repatriation of profits is not possible, as laid down in the conditions of Indian government, it is uncertain whether reputed foreign institutions will be keen to set up business in India. As per the World Trade Organisation, higher education is a service industry, but the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill views it as a glorifi ed social service. Even the student community in the schools and colleges of rural India considers education to be a commodity. A section of the student community regards education as an easy passport to the job market, while others perceive education as an instrument to enhance social status, helping them in the marriage market. My experience of teaching in rural areas vindicates this fact.

The government is justified in stipulating that there should not be any restrictions on the fees charged and that the quota system should not apply in these Indian campuses of foreign varsities. A privatised education system should not be restricted in deciding their fee structure; rather the fee should be based on market considerations. The reservation system undermines the quality of a system as some are chosen on the basis of lower merit in the name of positive discrimination. The present condition of India’s colleges and universities demonstrates an obvious difference of skill of teachers belonging to the general quota and those who are chosen because of the reservation system. These are not “problematic areas” as the editorial makes them out to be, but are meant to ensure educational quality. India sends a large number of students to the US and Australia every year. However, it is a misnomer to characterise this as “brain drain”. In fact, the brain drain theory has now become outdated with the introduction of newer concepts like brain circulation, brain exchange, brain mobility, and brain bank.

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