Teachers’ associations oppose draft norms to allow foreign universities in India

The UGC had last week announced the draft regulations for 'Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India'.

New Delhi: Teachers’ associations here have opposed the Centre’s new draft regulations allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in the country, saying it will lead to educational institutions being converted into commercial enterprises.

The associations have urged students, teachers, parents and citizens to “resist and defeat this undermining of our sovereignty”.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) had last week announced the draft regulations for ‘Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India’.

According to the draft norms, foreign universities, for the first time, will be able to set up their campuses in India. They will also be allowed to decide on the admission process, fee structure, and repatriate their funds back home.

In a statement, the Academic for Action and Development Delhi Teachers’ Association (AADTA), AAP’s teachers’ wing, alleged that the UGC has opened the doors for foreign universities for the welfare of coaching institutes not students.

“The social justice concerns have been totally ignored which is very important in our context where higher education is very effective means for social change,” the AADTA said in a statement.

If a foreign institution fails in its operations, how will the UGC take care of students studying in these institutions, it questioned.

“Draft regulations have no provisions for caste-based/economic-based/minority-based/armed forces-based/Divyang-based/Kashmiri migrants/representation-based/women reservation in (a) student admissions,” the statement said.

“Subjectivity and ambiguity in procedure for approval: No clarity on constitution and composition of UGC standing committee for monitoring/approval granting for setting up and operation of campuses of foreign HEIs in India,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Teachers’ Federation (DTF), in a statement, asserted that the move should be opposed likewise as the next logical step of any such policy will be to allow explicit profit-making in higher education.

The DTF said the government is peddling “fallacious dreams” of an “Ivy League education at affordable costs”.

“The reality is far from it as these foreign universities will provide education at costs unaffordable for the vast majority of our population as they will be unfettered in deciding curriculum, fee structure and salaries of teachers,” the DTF said.

“This will no doubt increase the cost of education in these institutions. Besides, the content of the education provided in these institutes will work to attenuate the quest for democratic policy autonomy in the country,” it added.

It will also lead to a mismatch between the demand for and availability of skilled workers, the teachers’ association said.

“The increase in the cost of education will result in the exclusion of a large section of our society, especially the deprived, that seeks empowerment through education,” the statement read.

“The very future of a democratic India is at stake. We call upon students, teachers, parents and citizens at large to resist and defeat this undermining of our sovereignty,” it added.

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