Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday reiterated the UPA government's keenness to open up the education sector to foreign education providers and private players. The minister made this clear in his keynote address at the plenary session of the World Conference on Higher Education at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Earlier this week, Sibal had told Parliament that the government was considering introducing a legislation allowing foreign education providers to set up campuses in India. In Paris, Sibal said higher education providers delivering cross-border education should ensure that their programmes are of comparable quality to that provided in their home country. Flagging issues that will come up when the domestic legislation is introduced in Parliament, Sibal pointed out that increased cross-border education required networks of equivalence of degrees and diplomas. The minister asked the UNESCO to helping member states to develop national standards of accreditation for bench-marking higher education, improving and maintaining the quality of education. This, he suggested would ensure that private players do not become 'teaching sweat-shops'.
Touching upon another contentious domestic issue, that of greater private sector participation, Sibal said that public institutions cannot keep pace with the rising demand. The minister said that there was a need to realise the importance of private sector in making investments in higher education. In Parliament, Sibal had made it abundantly clear that allowing private sector a larger role was the way to move forward.