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Quota will apply to foreign institutes: Arjun Singh

September 20, 2006 17:46 IST

Even as consensus eluded on the entry of foreign universities in the country, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh on Wednesday indicated the reservation policy will apply in these institutions.

"All this is speculation. The law of the land, whatever it is, has to be fulfilled. People cannot be above the Constitution," Singh told reporters when asked whether there would be reservation of seats for students in foreign institutions operating in the country and those that are being proposed.

He said the Foreign Education Providers Regulation Bill, which has been referred to a Group of Ministers, was under discussion.

Asked whether there would be any cap on the fee for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students in private educational institutions, Singh said no such proposal had come before him.

Reports said that while the commerce ministry has suggested a more flexible approach for higher education institutions as part of measures to tap the trade potential in education services under the World Trade Organisation regime, the human resource development ministry wants tough regulations on foreign education providers.

Initiating the debate on opening up the higher education sector to foreign universities to firm up India's policy in WTO services negotiations, the commerce ministry last week invited comments from all stakeholders on a host of issues such as whether and in what manner the country should allow the entry of foreign education providers.

A viable financing model, with a mix of public and private participation, has to be put in place. Cost recovery through suitable tuition fees and access to loans for students will help alleviate financial constraints faced by higher education institutions, the commerce ministry said.

The paper follows a proposal by the government to bring in the Foreign Universities Regulation Bill in July. The bill was later referred to a Group of Ministers. While the commerce ministry has been pitching for attracting FDI in the sector, the human resource development ministry has opposed the move.

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