Higher Education in India

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India’s higher education sector presents an interesting scenario of challenges and contrasts. On the one hand is a painstakingly built network of government colleges, universities and institutes, which is arguably one of the largest in the world, on the other hand is a rapidly increasing demand for its expansion. Similarly, on the one hand is a role envisioned for it of a harbinger of development for the masses, on the other is its potential to compete in the global market.These are only a few of the many unique aspects of the sector that has seen policy makers  reinventing ideas and plan, while inspiring new partnerships for the local and global private linkages.In this feature we try to place India’s tryst with higher education in its historical and current context by highlighting the challenges and promises that many say make the country a leading contender..

A legacy of strength
Enrolment into colleges and universities has been increasing at an impressive rate since  ndia’s political independence. The last decade witnessed the fastest growth in gross enrolment  ate. From 2.75 million in 1980-81, it increased by four times to 11.03 million in 2005-06.   Fig. 1) The institutional capacity has logically gone hand-in-hand with this trend.

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This  reflected in the number of universities and institutions of higher learning. In the period  of  ive decades, between 1950 and 2008,  the number of universities increased from  25 to 431,  number of colleges from 700 to  20,677 and number of teachers from 15,000  to over 5.05  lakh. The number of students  n higher education institutions increased from mere one lakh   n 1950 to over a 10  million. (Fig. 2) Besides this, India’s population will grow  from 1.02  illion to 1.31 billion from 2001 to  2019, the significant aspect of this growth  is a projected  hange in the demographic  composition of population in the 18-24 age  group. This implies   hat people eligible for  institutions of higher education will increase from 113 million (11%) in   001 to 144 million  (12.1%) in 2011. The demand for higher education is, therefore,   xpected to increase,  requiring new infrastructure to accommodate an influx of students.  Both   f these aspects, in terms of future policy trends, imply that the growth of  infrastructural support for higher education  will have to not only continue, but its pace will   ave to grow by leaps and bounds.

A realisation of the enormity of the  challenge is reflected in   olicy indicators  and announcements by government and government agencies. For instance,   he National Knowledge Commission in India  has recommended opening nearly   500  universities to accommodate this influx of population. The magnitude of infrastructural   rowth needed to begin addressing the demands  of increase in gross enrolment rate is  expected  to place calls for massive resource  mobilisation besides strong political will. This   ealisation in the past decade-anda-  half has set the stage for discussion on Private Public   artnerships (PPP).

This concept has been a buzz word for a while  now and through   ollaboration of the service providers, educational companies,  state-owned institutions has  een   reation of a positive environment.  Balancing act: Private and Public lthough the government run or supportedinstitutes of higher education have been the mainstay of the  ector, the state investment  in the sector has not been increasing in the liberalisation era. This  oincides with  the increasing push by the private sector  in creating a market. Private  players today  provide quality education to a substantial  number of students and the content   s tuned towards the market needs, but comes at a  price that most people in the   ountry cannot  afford.

Commercialisation of education has raised  concerns over exorbitant   apitation fee for  admissions; lack of uniformity in fees; undue  advantage to some groups in  admissions;  reduced access for marginalised groups; lack of accountability; entry of pseudo-  ducational ventures; lack of qualified teachers; and  catering to subjects that ‘sell’.  The need  to have private resources  and players mobilised for keeping up with demands of higher   ducation infrastructure  and yet address the need for keeping a levelled playing field for   arginalised sections is a dual challenge that has seen a lot of  debate and discussion.

Inconsistencies and contradictions in the  policies and practices of private education  management led to a spate of judicial interventions down the years, for example,  the J P   nnikrishnan judgement (1993), TMA Pai and others versus the State of Karnataka     (2002) and Islamic Academy of Education and others versus the State of Karnataka (2003). Meanwhile the Birla-Ambani Report (2000) submitted to the previous government made a call for an all-out privatisation. In spite of contending views on the relevance and methodology of privatisation of higher education in India, it is widely recognised that the State should be primarily responsible for ensuring quality education at all levels in all regions. At the same time, the State should encourage through futuristic vision the facilitation of planned interventions by the  rivate sector. To prevent commercialisation of education, transparent and unambiguous policy guidelines for the private sector are essential. Although current practices such as the establishment of universities by state legislatures, entry of foreign universities, and unwarranted growth of self-financing courses in universities are effective in enhancing educational opportunities, such practices require clear-cut policies in their management structures.

Addressing challenge of development India’s education system and particularly the agenda of higher education have been heavily influenced by the reality of underdevelopment and poverty of India’s majority.
One of the role that was envisaged for higher education during the Nehruvian era of state sponsored educational growth was to create   pool of people who will answer India’s quest to make development available to its millions of poor households. Indian higher education is sensitive to the issue of sustainable development through the promotion of livelihood practices ensuring sustainability, reducing poverty, educating women and children and in fostering respect and interest in environmental protection. 

The thrust given to agricultural universities, Women’s Studies progamme, vocational education programmes are some examples of this. Presently, there is a mismatch between the skilled manpower required and what is available. Every year millions of graduates pass out of colleges who do not have the specific skill sets required by the market. To change this situation, the government is working on a proposal to develop Industrial Training Institutes through the private-public partnership (PPP) model. Introduction of short-term modular courses and issuing scholarship reimbursable vouchers to institutions that focus on skills development are the other important initiatives planned by the government. The 11th Plan has set an ambitious target of creating 70 million jobs between 2007 and 2012. Enriching from globa l outlook Higher  ducation institutions are actively  expanding the international dimension of their teaching,   esearch and service functions. Cross Border Higher Education  (CBHE) refers to international,   nter-cultural and inter-disciplinary aspects of curriculum  and the   eaching/learning process and is  reflected in increasing mobility of students,  programmes,  eachers, researchers, and  institutions.  This trade in education has resulted in  medium and   ong term benefits for India,  in terms of its large number of students  acquiring better   ducation and specialised  skills and the teachers and researchers  being exposed to new  urricula, delivery  practices, and increasing specialisation in  their disciplines. // COVER  STORY  According to Ernst &Young-EDGE 2009  Report on Private Enterprise in Indian Higher Education, the share of private  unaided higher education institutions has  increased  uring the 10th Plan and is  expected to grow further through the 11th  Plan. Reduced public  pending along with  rising demand for higher education have  primarily led to the growth of  rivate sector  in education.  However, the percentage of GDP spend  n higher education has   eclined from  0.77% in 1991 to an estimated 0.7% in  2008. The share of expenditure spend on higher education as a percentage of  total education expenditure has remained  stagnant at   pproximately 19% over the past two years.  The extent of private sector involvement  in  igher education colleges varies across major states with approximately 63% of the  colleges in  ndhra Pradesh being private   unaided. The education market in India is estimated  to be   pproximately US$ 50 billion, with higher education occupying US$ 20 billion  share. By  012,   t is estimated to grow by US$ 80 billion.  The private sector has a leading presence in  few selected disciplines such  as engineering, medical and management. The market size of   rivate engineering colleges is US$ 5.4 billion (approximately 84% of the US$ 6.5 billion  rivate   olleges market), followed by management with  US$ 680 million (approximately  0%)   nd medical with US$ 350 million (approximately 6%).  In the professional courses  segment, private management colleges are expected to grow by 100% from 300 to 600 by   012. Number of engineering colleges is expected to grow by 67% to about 2000 and medical  colleges to grow by 43% to around 200 by the same period.  The report pin-points to five major  factors responsible for growth in demand for private  higher education in India,   amely: Inability of the public university system to meet the demands of growing  population. Conventional courses not geared  towards creating employability.  Increased purchasing  power for high  cost private education. Declining trend of public expenditure  on higher  education.  overnment policies to enhance privatisation. 
That the flow of students has grown in
recent times than previously can be vouched
from the fact that in the year 2000-01, the
number of foreign students was 7783. In
2001-2002 it was 8137 and in 2002-2003 it
was 7756. The majority of the students who
come to India are from developing countries,
with Nepal topping the list. Mauritius, Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the other countries in the list. (Table 1) Foreign students also come to India from South and South East Asia, Middle East and Africa. The low cost and high quality of Indian education system is a big attraction for these students. Therefore, any effort to attract foreign students  o  ndia should focus on understanding the requirements of  the students from these regions. n  such a situation, the main challenge for our policy makers is to raise the standard and quality  f higher education across  Indian universities, keeping in view the larger educational  goals of equity. Emergence of foreign institutions  Foreign universities emerged on the domestic front in 1990 in collaboration with private institutions. According to a 2005 study on ‘Foreign Education Providers in India’ by NUEPA, there were 131 Indian institutions  collaborating with foreign institutions in various states, mostly in metropolitan cities and   ome other cities where prospects of vocational courses existed on a large scale.  Out of the 131  institutions, 107 provided vocational courses, 19 technical courses  and only 5 general  ducation courses.  The data further showed that Business Management and Hotel   anagement constituted approximately 80% of the total number of courses.  Multiple methods of  collaboration have been employed by these foreign  institutions to deliver their programmes  n
Table 1: International Students in Indian Universities digital LEARNING MAY 2009 11  India. In genera
the four categories are: the most preferred twinning arrangement;  programmatic collaboration consisting of joint course and joint degree provision; franchisee   nstitutions; and branch campus. None of the foreign institutions came under  the last  ategory   s there is no regulation for operatioecognition of education sector as a trade able service sector under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) has made it  mperative for many countries  to understand the duality of education as a social and trade  ble service.  In the absence of any policy to regulate  the foreign education providers in India,  there is a danger of the foreign universities  //
Table 2: Types of Operation of   oreign Institutions in India n of a foreign institution in the domestic market.  
Table 2) Entry in foreign markets Many Indian institutions are now  opening their branch  campuses abroad and have been rated high in quality owing  to an increased awareness  egarding the standard of our education system. The success of Indian students in the Silicon  Valley and India’s recent BPO boom have also contributed in enhancing the brand  value and  global standard of its institutions.  Some of the institutions that are making their presence  broad include deemed  universities like BITS Pilani and Manipal University, private  nstitutions like NIIT India,  besides some public institutions like Delhi University, IGNOU,  NDT University Mumbai,  Mysore University and Madras University. Although at present,  he number of such  institutions opening campuses is lesser than foreign institutions in India,   ndian education can be popularised abroad through proactive  policy measures enlarging the   articipation of our universities.  Issues relating to cross-border education  Education in India   as long been considered as a social service. But the  r
  turning towards commercialisation, which goes against the classic view of education as for  public good. Another concern is that commercialisation  will promote privatisation that will,     in turn,  enhance the cost of higher education. It is also feared that foreign and private   roviders will deliver essentially profitable subjects.  Effective regulation on the entry  of foreign institutions is necessary for protecting Indian  higher education institutions.   There is also a need to evolve the process of certification  of foreign institutions to upkeep   quality of foreign education providers.  The policy of FDI in education under GATS is through  automatic route with or without an Indian partner. It does not require the permission of    Foreign Investment Promotion  Board. However, under the current UGC Act the degree  granting authority rests with the central or state universities and foreign  institutions cannot  perate through the automatic route. The absence of enabling  domestic regulation  makes FDI through  automatic route ineffectual. Stocktaking Higher education in India has     developed as a strong institutional structure since  independence. Most of the higher education   nstitutions have good infrastructural facilities and set-up. The expansion of higher  education along with its democratisation in the 60s has facilitated the accessibility of  higher education to all. The reservation  policy of the government has also extended the    portals of the universities for the socially  and economically marginalised sections of the       society. In the first phase, Indian higher education system expanded with government  support  to enable the masses to pursue higher education. The liberalisation policy during     1990s added many new features to the higher education system. Phenomenal growth of the private education providers took place with shrinking governmental finances, ultimately leading to the gradual transfer of the cost of higher education upon students and parents. The course curricula were modified to suit the market requirements. The strong growth prospects  of our economy, coupled with present phase of globalisation, has fuelled the demand for  higher education in India. To cater to this demand, the government has gone ahead with a  new set of strategies in the XIth Plan. It has launched ambitious schemes for expansion, strong knowledge base and other quality parameters so as to adapt the system of higher education to the market requirements. All these interventions will ultimately help our higher education system to exploit opportunities emerging from globalisation, at the same time catering to wide variety of needs that make up for the diversity of our society.\\  ecent Reforms in Higher Education Various interventions taken in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) to leverage higher education: Admissions on Common Entrance Test, Curriculum to be revamped,      Semester system to be introduced. Accreditation of institutions through multiple rating agencies. National Eligibility Test to be restructured, Academic Staff Colleges to be revamped.Establishing an Inter-University Centre. Academic, governing and financial autonomy for institutions. Quantitative expansion in enrollment. Promoting inclusive education. Setting up of an ‘Equal Opportunity Office’. Quality improvement in course, domestic and global  linkages, faculty. New Central universities in 16 uncovered states. Indira Gandhi National Tribal University to be set up, 14 new Central universities, aiming at world class standards. Supporting 6000 colleges and 150 universities for UGC assistance.  New central scheme, with a Central– State funding pattern, for increasing GER.  Technical education institutions to be strengthened and upgrade

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