The government may be keen to allow foreign varsities to set up independent campuses in India but many students say they would still prefer to go abroad for higher education as the exposure counts and the overseas degrees may be of greater value.
Six out of 10 students IANS spoke to said they would prefer to go abroad for studies.
Sneha Ullal, who has applied for the development studies course in Sussex University, Britain, said: 'It is not just a degree from abroad, but the entire experience of living, studying and adapting to an alien culture that I am looking forward to.
'A foreign education is more than just a degree as teaching is more informal. The value of a degree from a foreign university would be more valid than a foreign degree taken from India,' Ullal told IANS.
The Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, has been approved by the cabinet and seeks to regulate the entry and operation of foreign institutions to set up their centres in India and offer independent educational degrees. It is yet to be passed in parliament.
According to the ministry of human resource development, around 50 foreign universities have already evinced interest in setting up campuses in India.
If the bill is passed, the approved foreign institutions will be provided deemed university status under Section 3 of the Universities Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.
V. Uma Shankar, director of the Bureau of University and Higher Education, said: 'By approving the bill, the government is helping Indian students get easier access to international education in a cost effective way.'
While the possibility of getting a foreign university degree without having to spend big money on going abroad spells good news for many, there were those who would rather go overseas even then.
Karan Misra, who wants to apply for a masters degree in healthcare abroad but doesn't have the finances, said: 'By approving the foreign university bill, the government has opened a new opportunity for students like me.
'The opening of foreign universities in India will definitely be a boon for me as it would be cost-effective. But the institutions entering India should ensure that certificates provided by them will have the same value internationally,' he said.
As per the latest data from the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), over 130,000 Indian students travelled to the US in 2008-09. In 2007-08, there were 94,563 Indian students in the US. The same year, 25,905 students from India were studying in Britain. The Indian student community was identified as the second largest foreign student community in Britain that year.
Given the enthusiasm for foreign degrees, many are pleased with the government's moves.
Aruna Chandrahasan, a clerk in the private power company BSES, is looking forward to foreign university campuses here: 'I hail from a middle class family. As a mother, I'm happy that my daughter's dream to get a foreign degree will now be given a thought.'
'With less expense, I hope she will acquire a foreign degree and get good exposure in the subject,' she said.
But G. Nandini, who has a masters degree from Virginia University and wants to pursue her PhD in the US, expressed scepticism.
'Campuses in India cannot match those abroad. The quality of study materials, atmosphere and practical knowledge will be missing even if foreign varsities set up their campuses in India,' she said.
Saurabh Bansal, a student in Delhi University, said, 'The bill will not restrict students from going abroad for further studies right now as the establishment of full-fledged campuses of foreign universities could take years. By then, I could finish a PhD abroad.'