Sibal to focus on wooing foreign varsities on US trip

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal, during his 10-day visit to the US beginning Monday, will focus on increasing cooperation in the education sector and attracting American universities to set up their campuses in India, an official said Saturday.

Sibal is accompanying External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna for the India-US strategic dialogue.

Official sources in the HRD ministry said Sibal will interact with government officials and representatives from a number of universities seeking cooperation in the higher education sector.

Sources said the meetings will aim at attracting these universities to set up their campuses in India. This comes after the foreign universities bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the budget session. The bill aims at facilitating as well as regulating setting up of campuses by foreign varsities in India.

‘This will be the litmus test for the (foreign university) bill,’ a senior minisitry official said.

Among the universities the HRD minister will be interacting with is Virginia Tech, which has shown interest in setting up a campus in Hyderabad. Sibal will be meeting the university’s president for further deliberations.

He will also meet representatives from the Washington’s premier Georgetown University on Thursday.

On Friday, the minister will interact with representatives from Stanford Centre for International Development, a center of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research which focuses on international trade and development. He will also meet representatives from University of California, Berkeley on the same day.

This will be Sibal’s second visit to the US in seven months. During his visit towards the end of October 2009, he had met the heads of several top American universities, including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale.

‘The universities expressed interest at that time but they wanted to wait for the foreign universities bill to come,’ the official said.