New Delhi: All major Central educational institutions will now have to take the HRD Ministry's nod for signing MoUs with foreign partners in case the agreements have financial implications on the government.
The decision which has been communicated by the Ministry to all the institutes is being criticised as a major flip-flop as the government had earlier asked the institutes to seek their prior approval before entering into an MoU but had later exempted the institutes where the Act governing them has a provision for such agreements.
According to officials in the HRD Ministry, "the communication from the Ministry came after an order from the Prime Minister's office in this regard".
"Institutions coming under the MHRD should seek prior approval of the Ministry before signing MoU with foreign institutions in case it has financial implications on the Government of India," the PMO order said.
The order further said the decision for mandating the approval was taken as the PM had expressed his displeasure about the practice of institutions delaying the process of taking the post facto approval.
"It is being noticed that cabinet notes on MoUs are being brought before the Cabinet for its post facto approval or information after considerable delay from the date of signing of such MoUs.
"Prime Minister has expressed displeasure in this regard and directed that all MoUs that are signed by departments and are required to be brought before the cabinet for post facto approval or information must be submitted within one month of the signing of the MoU," the order said.
The Cabinet had in April through a communication said that "prior approval of the Cabinet is required to be obtained by concerned ministries departments in all cases involving treatises, agreements and other important matter including MoUs to be signed by any agency with any foreign agency/country".
However, in July, institutes such as IITs and IIMs which have more than 50 collaborations each with foreign universities, were exempted from taking the approval.
Stating that the Cabinet approval will be needed only for government to government collaborations and not for higher educational institutions signing MoUs with foreign universities, the HRD Ministry had made it clear that if the Act governing such institutes has a provision to enter into an agreement with foreign institutes, they will be exempted.
If, however, there is no such provision in the Act, agreement may be signed with the approval of the Ministry, a communication had said.