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If union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has his way, foreign direct investment may be a reality in Indian education, throwing open the sector to large global education conglomerates and private equity investors. The HRD Minster said that he is strongly in favour of allowing FDI into the country's education sector.

"FDI must come into India. Entry into the education sector must neither be limited nor over-regulated. I want the system to be accessible from outside too," Sibal has been quoted saying in by IANS. A number of education bills, including The Foreign Education Bill, are expected to be tabled in the budget session next month.  

The Foreign Education Bill, if passed, will allow 100% FDI by universities, opening gates to top universities from across the world.

Stanford, Harvard, Wharton and the European Business School INSEAD have shown interest in setting up India campuses.

Other bills like Right to Education, Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations, Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) and the Distance Education Council (DEC) are also expected to be taken up this parliamentary session. The

Foreign Educational Institutions bill has been passed by the cabinet in 2007, but has not been tabled in Parliament till now.

Around 160,000 Indian children go abroad for higher education at an overall cost of $7 billion, Sibal said. The minister said government plans to allow corporate investment in school education, joint ventures, public-private partnerships, etc.

A number of private equity funds such as Sterling Partners are looking at India's education sector to invest. Though most of them have till now invested in e-learning firms, coaching and training institutions, some are looking at primary education too. Kaizen Education Fund, a recently launched sector focused fund, is looking to buy and build a network of schools.

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