Indian Higher Education – Policy vs Progress


In an informative book chief economist of World Bank Kaushik Basu mentions about India hitting gold with its higher education system. Mr Basu argues that Indian higher education can take off without any long-run fiscal burden or macro-policy shift, but simply through “virtually costless reforms to the regulatory system.” The outcome he envisions is that India can be a global hub for higher education. Basu points out that India has a long-standing tradition of excellence in higher education (at least, compared to other developing countries), and that English is widely used in the education sector. These represent important natural advantages. These advantages have not necessarily materialized in positive inflows and major bottlenecks are still with central policies and frameworks.

“The tendency to have higher education services largely by the state [that is, the government] and to have it controlled centrally, such as by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and also the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), has had a deleterious effect on this sector.” – Mr Basu

Although there are issues but there is hope rising with new policies and need for internationalization which students are demanding from their campuses. Some of the policy changes which can have huge impact on the sector are:

1) Reorganizing the UGC to make it a modern regulatory body that focuses on providing objective information on the quality of higher education institutions.

2) Not competing internally but setting benchmarks of the top institutes of the world. We don’t need competition between our IIT or IIM or even private vs public but with top institutes in the world.

3) Set clear precedence to the public institute to focus on the most important issues which is quality of education for the students

4) Ease entry of private sector thus enabling more partnership with foreign institute or even opening quality off shore campuses in India.

5) Remove hurdle of approval for every students which enrolls on a course. Lets create a central repository of institutes and degrees which are approved and if a student is from one of those he could get his equivalent score as credit.

6) Enable credit transfer and mobility of students.

Apart from policy framework changes we need to focus our efforts on changing the perception of the country for foreign students. India according to western media is shown in dark light with cases of female insecurity and other social problems. Can we make India offer more positive news and changes in global economy. We are going in the right direction and have made substantial progress in the perception of “India” and its value in global economy. It is upto all of the Educational policy makers along with Educational Institutions to play an active role in ensuring our campuses truly become global and diverse. It is time for India to truly shine and makes it impact felt globally and there is no better way than to educate the world about India , its economic growth, its cultural value and its true place in global ecosystem.

Written by,

Pratik Gandhi




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