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India shelves foreign unis

The Australian    29 August 2012

The Indian parliament has shelved its foreign educational institutions bill leading to mixed Australian reactions.

International Education Association of Australia executive director Phil Honeywood says Australian higher education providers have

…every right to be disappointed with the expectations that have been raised over the benefits that would accrue from the passing of this legislation.

But World Bank higher education adviser and former La Trobe University vice-chancellor Brian Stoddart suggested Australian higher education should not and probably will not be greatly exercised:

The . . . bill had hefty financial provisions — $US11 million ($10.6m) — which most Australian institutions would probably baulk at, especially as the deregulation at home bites harder and the push for better funding gathers. It’s hard to argue you are cash-strapped if you lash out large on an investment in India.

The Times of India argued in favour of the bill, saying India’s need for 800 universities more by 2020 to address the educational needs of 45 million young people represented demand that “simply cannot be met by indigenous varsities alone”.  But objections to the bill included equity fears of foreign universities playing to the elite and not to national interests, and fears of competition within the sector.

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