No "fly-by-night operators" will be allowed to set up shop in India when the country opens up its higher education institutions for foreign tie-ups, Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal has said.
Sibal stated this after the conclusion of the day-long India-US education summit that he co-chaired with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington.
The foreign institutions will be subjected to the same laws as are applicable to private educational institutes in India. "There will be no discrimination and no favouritism. We will give them a level-playing field," Sibal told mediapersons.
"Nobody is going to come to India to give to India without anything in return. Let us be clear on that. We have to provide them with the opportunities in which we believe that we can gain and there is something in it for them as well," he said.
While opening its doors to US educational institutes, Sibal said India will be cautious to ensure that no "fly-by- night operators" set up shop in the country.
His remarks came against the backdrop of a raid on the Tri Valley University in California earlier this year following which it was shut down over an alleged immigration scam, putting the future of hundreds of Indian students in jeopardy.
In a joint statement on higher education cooperation released at the conclusion of the summit last evening, Clinton and Sibal agreed to make the higher education dialogue an annual bilateral event to "map out strategies for partnership in the field of education" between the two countries.
The dialogue, which would be held alternately in the US and India, should "identify areas for mutually beneficial exchanges and provide a platform for intense and meaningful collaboration among academia, private sector and government on both sides," the joint statement said.
Sibal said the dialogue process will enable US-based community colleges to find partners and establish footprint in India but added that "for profit companies" were not welcome in India for now.
He said initially the collaboration between US and Indian educational institutes would involve twinning arrangements, joint degrees, certification and diploma courses and skill development.
"I don't think that we will have Harvard, Yale or Princeton coming in and setting up campuses in India. I doubt that very much, I don't think that is our vision either," Sibal said.
He said it is important for the US educators to first get a feel of the Indian terrain and its complexities.
"Once they feel a level of comfort in moving in that terrain then they will think in long term of bringing the institutions to India," he said.
Sibal and Clinton emphasised that access to and development of technology and skills are "cross-cutting" requirements to meet challenges that the two countries face.
They also expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved in the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, launched in 2009, under which proposals have been invited by November 1 and will be reviewed by a joint working group for academic awards in support of university partnerships.
Sibal and Clinton expressed their support for the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, which provides fresh impetus to academic collaboration in areas of scientific research and technology development, the joint statement said.