Private Foreign Universities to enter India

Higher Education in India set to expand?

What about the OBC demands?

To ensure international quality university education, we have to rank the higher education institutions, as they do in the West; identify the Ivy League tables etc. Indian higher education priorities are dictated by the fast growing demand for graduates for the IT/ITes? BPO industry’s furious growth. This in our opinion is a positive development. Gone are the days of educated unemployment, a tag that clanged to the educated youth. Just now we read a book titled” Knowledge Monopolies: The Academisation of Society”. Another book on the same topic:” The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton”.

These books tell us that how once the very American society didn’t take the educated persons seriously. The more academic minded students were jeered at.” Academic success was unimportant, in the 19th century America, there was an anti-intellectual atmosphere and an antipathy to serious education pursuit”>The same attitude was there till not long ago among the rural gentry and even the new generation entrepreneurs even in the early years of the 20th century in India.

Only in this generation, now very lately, only after the high salaries that are now offered by the IT firms there is a rude awakening! Now, Infosys announced a higher salary just for the fresh recruit, at Rs.2 lakhs or more! So, there is now almost a human resources revolution and every poor student wants to get a degree in information technology and learning computers has become the only criterion to enter the job market.

And what we in India do now?

There is the rapid privatized higher education. Every other institution that gives a degree is self-financed and in the South, in TN and Karnataka private professional education, engineering and medicine is big business! Political leaders of every description are into this business. In TN the professional education has grown rapidly and almost there is a racket!

The Deemed Universities had lately become more aggressive, more violence in the campuses and so the Madras High Court had now ruled that Deemed Universities are free from the control of the AICTE and yet they have to go through the UGC norms. Even this stipulation is likely to challenged, given the mindset of the TN education merchants! Yes, they have resorted to all forms of violations. One very rich Deemed University  had encroached previous Madras City Corporation land on which institutions named after even our President of India were but and they were all razed to the ground by the previous government.

One hopes this government doesn’t give in to politics in this matter. The so many private professional colleges don’t have the basic norms: not enough infrastructures, no faculty worth speaking about and what have you!

So, the need for some stringent rules is called for. Though there are critics on government regulation in higher education. The reasons are again politicians.
The Union education minister Mr.Arjun Singh had muddied the water with his own personal agenda against the Prime Minister by raising the dust of the OBC quotas in Central Government IITs and IIMs. Somehow, the anticipated agitations didn’t gather storm, luckily for the PM who was feared to be certainly the target by many.

Now, what sort of regulation needed for the Deemed Universities and the proposed entry of the foreign universities?

Without any distinction all universities, including the normal existing 300 and odd universities must aim for international level quality: courses have to be “internationalized”, faculty has to be pucca, and no caste based recruitments in university faculties. One of the banes of the Indian universities is the inbreeding of the faculty. Another bane is the political interference. Here again, advanced States like TN had set some bad examples.

The incumbent Chief Ministers expect the incumbent Vice-Chancellors to confer upon them Hon. Doctorates! So, you see every CM in TN is called, of course with great sarcasm in private, as Doctor Artist or Amma or Revolutionary Leader! So, what quality VCs you can get? So, now bogus PhDs circulate. Some Principals of Engineering Colleges, now compulsory are detected and shown on TV channels! VCs are submissive, fearful of government interference and there is intense university politics of the worst type everywhere!

One hopes the public sensitivities are respected and the elite class feels uncomfortable to address these mostly illiterate politicians as Doctors! In sum, the present status of Indian universities is very poor. There may be exceptions, if so the exceptions seem very few. May be in Delhi, there is some standard in higher education. At least they go by the marks, not through political manipulations.

In the Central Universities we need a much more radical change of admissions policy. At least one half of the seats must be “reserved” (a bad word, we know!) for the students from all the Indian States. At least one-third of admissions must be for foreign students, mostly from Asia and the neighboring countries. Visva-Bharati under Nehru’s Chancellorship was o! Today, that great institution is as parochial as any other!

So, the points for higher education are that there has to be an expansion in quantitative terms. More universities must be permitted. More foreign universities are welcome. But there has to be regulations. Indian universities can’t suddenly pretend to reach the Ivy League standards. But we can set some norms for declaring a few universities as India’s own Ivy League institutions.

In the foreseeable future, there wont be funding from private sources on the scale we find in the Sabot gradually we might get such funding from private sources. Till then, it will be more ‘commercialized’ universities, given the first generation education promoters. Nothing wrong we have to satisfy ourselves. After all they provide the numbers for the rising employment opportunities.

At least for this generation such a phase is needed to meet the rising IT industry demand. There are 112 million children in India in the college-going age group of 18 to 24.Only 11 million of these now enter universities. Certainly not a satisfactory affair. Nor, we can restrict the IITs and IIMs for the very elite students alone. Some sort of reservation-cum-merit, social cum economic criteria has to be adopted to open up the doors of these elite institutions. They have to be expanded and a heavy investment from the government is needed just to contain the social tensions, otherwise would entail!

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