ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Jandhyala B G Tilak

Private Higher Education in India

An important feature of the very high rate of growth of higher education experienced in India, particularly since the beginning of the 1990s, is the alarming growth of private higher education. The size of the private sector is about twice that of the public sector in terms of the number of institutions and student enrolments. This has several cnsequences, some of which are already being felt. Apart from refuting several claimed advantages of private higher education, this article draws attention to the dangersinvolved in a high degree of dependence on the private sector for the development of higher education in a country like India.

Higher Education Policy in India in Transition

With the government's attention being riveted for decades on elementary or primary education, higher education was reduced to the role of playing second fi ddle. This has suddenly changed in recent years. Alongside, neo-liberal economic reforms have seen an expansion in the role of the private sector in education. Many of the recent initiatives in policy reforms mark a transition in the history of higher education in independent India - from a system embedded in welfare statism to a system partially based on quasimarket principles and fi nally to a system based on a neo-liberal market philosophy.

Education for Profit

The Mid-Term Appraisal of the Eleventh Plan calls for exploration of the possibility of converting existing private institutions into public partnerships. The government believes that strict regulation and enforcement will ensure that the private sector contributes significantly to equitable education. However, the government's record until now in terms of both its willingness and ability to do so has been poor.

A Weak Attempt to Curb Unfair Practices in Higher Education

Although the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill 2010, which was introduced in Parliament recently, acknowledges the widespread prevalence of malpractices in our institutions of higher education, it is inadequate for tackling the host of corrupt and unfair practices.

The Proposed NCHER: A Solution Worse Than the Disease?

The draft bill setting out the constitution, functions and powers of the National Commission for Higher Education and Research has proposed a body in which will be concentrated the powers to oversee higher education in all fields, and which will be overburdened with bureaucratic responsibilities. The NCHER is also likely to end any measure of autonomy with the state universities. The new commission, which is expected to replace the University Grants Commission, will possibly end up with exactly the same problems as the UGC.

Neither Vision Nor Policy for Education

Going by the reduced non-plan expenditure for higher education institutions, increased emphasis on interest subsidy on educational loans, a steep cut in the allocation for the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship scheme, and reliance on public-private partnership modes for setting up of model schools in the Union Budget, it may not be wrong to infer that the State intends to continue reducing its role in funding education and relying on the private sector.