PRIVATE AND FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES FOR INDIA
The Indian Government is planning to allow Private and Foreign Universities in Higher education. The discussion on it is going on the in the Media. There is a greater need to discuss the pros and cons of it by our Educationists and Universities as well.
India is one of the countries which have the lowest enrolment ratio for Higher education in the world. USA has more than 81 percent who go to college from their school education, Canada’s percentage in this is 87, Australia, 80, Finland, 74, New Zealand, 63, Norway, 62, Belgium, 56, UK,52, France, 51, China, 15 and in our country it is just around 10% who come to Universities from the schools. World average is about 15% (UNESCO). India, also, is one of the lowest in terms of number of universities per population. USA’s population is about 28 crores and they have nearly 2500 universities, Germany’s 8+ crores people has 350 universities, UK’s 6 crores population has 125 universities, Japan’s 13 crores population has 730 universities, Indonesia’s population is 22 crores, they have 1770 universities, Philippines’s 8 crores people have 1500 universities, China, with a population of 131 crores, have 2000 universities and India with 110 crores of population has just 350+ universities. Several experts in the field estimate that we must have at least one thousand universities more and the higher education enrolment ratio to be increased by 20 percent in the next ten years, to meet the challenges of country’s development. Can the government do it?
The government’s efforts and achievement of the past 70 years in Higher education in the country is dismal to say the least, with the exception of only some ten percent of the institutions making some mark of excellence. The government’s grant to the universities is not sufficient to meet even the salary demands, let alone developmental expenditure. More than fifty percent of the sanctioned posts have remained unfilled for want of funds. Many institutions lack minimum infrastructure in terms of staff, place, building, laboratory, library, hostels, sports and cultural facilities. No wonder that the quality of education in ninety percent of our institution of higher learning is very poor. A bad education is worse than no education! Under these prevailing realities, how can we expect the government to take up the responsibility of providing 1000 more universities and enhance enrolment ratio by 10 percent in next ten years? The track record clearly establishes that it is well neigh impossible! Yet, there is an urgent need to provide quality education at an affordable cost to vast majority of our students seeking higher education. It appears inevitable to make room for nongovernmental agencies – Private and Foreign Universities – to shoulder this responsibility while, at the same time, increasing the government’s efforts to strengthen and empower the existing universities. Earnest efforts also to be made to ensure that the private and foreign universities granted serve the interest of quality education to the largest majority towards the ends of enhancing the enrolment ratio in a manner most appropriate to our country.
We must reckon with, at this juncture, the recent fiasco in the grant of deemed university status to private institutions some of whom cater worst quality of education and exploit students. However, such a state of affairs is more due to the grant being given to some undeserving without considering the track regard of the institutions in providing quality education over a long period than private sector per say. Such institutions are run by dynastic rule with sole purpose of making it a profiting business and who have obtained the deemed university status by nonacademic, non-educational consideration such as political clout, political appeasement or corruption. Governments in those states are in fact an accomplice in such loot.Grant can be given to such institutions so arbitrarily (or by abusing rules) under the present dispensation – prevailing Acts and Statutes – governing Higher education makes it even more a sordid affair! Higher Education in the country is controlled more by non-educationist than academics. The decisions of the academic bodies such as Board of Studies, Faculty, Academic Council and Syndicate of the University need final approval of the Government. Even the highest decision making and advisory body such as Inter University Board and Council for Higher education is headed by the minister in charge of Higher Education as Chairman and its members consists in quite a sizable number bureaucrats from the government and people of political lineage. The Government of Karnataka has also stepped into such misadventure of granting private university status to some undeserving without any regulation and independent academic assessment, is equally dangerous to the future of higher education in the State. It gets recommendation by ‘experts’ who toe their line or from those experts who are in subordinate position,to grant the status. It is extremely difficult to achieve quality and excellence in education in such a centralized nonacademic authority and no government is willing to forego it. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
There is a need to install separate regulations to the grant of the private and foreign universities that takes into consideration with clarity and transparent procedures the academic criteria to merit the status including consideration of local realities such as social justice and economic support to the needy. An independent and autonomous authority consisting of eminent educationists who are known for their integrity must assess the merit of each applicant in the light of the regulation and their decision must be strictly adhered to. It must be totally free from political, governmental and bureaucratic interference.