//No move to allow foreign universities in Kerala: Minister

No move to allow foreign universities in Kerala: Minister

Kochi, Jan 31 (UNI) Refuting reports that the Kerala government was going to allow foreign universities to operate from the state, Kerala Education Minister E T Mohammad Basheer today said all such speculations were baseless.

Addressing a press conference here ahead of the upcoming International Education Meet 2006 (IEM ’06) at Kochi from February 4-7, Mr Basheer said the government was not planning to sign any agreements with foreign universities during the meet to enable them to operate from Kerala.

”The state government cannot take any unilateral decision on this. It will have to get the Centre’s approval for it first,” Mr Basheer added. The meet, which would be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the concluding day, was aimed at ”repositioning higher education in Kerala for global excellence”, the minister said.

To this end, the government will launch ”twinning programmes” with foreign universities to provide international exposure to students and to facilitate student and teacher exchange programmes.

Nearly 600 delegates from India and abroad are to participate in the education summit. There would be delegates from 23 foreign countries, including the US, the UK, Oman, France, Canada, Sri Lanka and Jordan. Twenty vice-chancellors from Indian universities are also expected to attend the meet, Mr Basheer said. The event would also help showcase Kerala’s higher education institutions to the world and attract foreign students to study here, Mr Basheer said.

Defending the opening of the higher education sector to private players, Mr Basheer said self-financing institutions had become essential given the declining allocation for education in the country. Citing figures, he said that allocation for education had come down from 7.2 per cent in the first five-year plan to 2.9 per cent in the 10th plan.

Stating that Kerala, with its high literacy rates, was ideally suited to be developed into a centre for higher education, Mr Basheer said the lack of opportunities locally had forced students from Kerala to go outside.

As per certain estimates, students from Kerala had spent nearly Rs 8,000 crore to get education outside. All this money could be retained in the state if adequate higher education facilities were available here, he added.