Do more colleges translate to more learning?


An annual report published by FICCI-Ernst & Young indicates an interesting fact that the number of educational institutions that have come up is increasing at a faster rate than enrollment. Such a phenomenon is observed only in India where there are 31,000 institutes, while there are only 6,742 institutes in the US and 4,297 institutes in China. This makes Indian education the largest in the world.

CAGR of number of educational institutes outnumber that of student enrolment

In India the compound annual growth rate of the number of educational institutes is 11 per cent, whereas it is only 6 per cent in the case of student enrolment. The higher education sector in India is so profitable that 5000 colleges were started during the last year alone. The last decade recorded a growth in the number of the universities with a CAGR of 7.5 per cent, while that during the period between 1951 and 2001 was just 4.7 per cent. During 2001-2011, the number of institutions has grown at a CAGR of 11 per cent, while that during 1951-2001 was 6.1 per cent. The increase in number of institutions is how ever not a solution to problems such as access, equity and quality of education.

Unemployability a major problem

A study conducted by TeamLease says that 57 per cent of youth in India have some amount of unemployability. It amounts to 82.5 million youth who are not employable. The report published by TeamLease indicates that about 90 per cent of the job openings require vocational skills; unfortunately 90 per cent of the students from institutes in India have only bookish knowledge. In addition to this, the low quality in education has resulted in low incomes for employees. The report says that 58 per cent of the graduates earn less than Rs 75,000 per year. So it takes longer periods to get back the huge amount that has been paid as tuition fee. According to statistics, about Rs 4, 90,000 was the cost involved in training those unemployable youth over the last two years.

So it is quite obvious from the statistics, that our colleges are producing large number of unemployable graduates. The impact, that this is going to make on the quality of faculty selected from such unemployable graduates is not getting proper attention.

Lack of proper regulatory framework

In addition to the issue of quality of faculty, our higher education lacks a proper regulatory body. This is evident from the different factors like faculty, infrastructure and the number of institutes that are accredited. During 2007-2008, 45 per cent of positions for professors, 51 per cent positions for readers, and 53 per cent positions for lecturers were vacant in different universities across India.

Obsolete curricula and inadequate library facilities

The Indian higher education system is badly affected due to obsolete syllabus, and inadequate libraries. In different college libraries across India there was a just 9 book per student, which is very low when compared to 53 books per student in the case of IIT Bombay. According to data from the government, only 161 universities and 4371 colleges in India were accredited by NAAC, as on March 2011.

The consequence

The consequence of such issues is that, we have a situation where major portion of the graduated youth who are willing to work are found to be unemployable due to many reasons and lack of required skills is one.

What the government should do?

In order to put the higher education system in track, government should frame a regulatory body that closely monitors the system. In addition to this, private sector participation should be given more emphasis, as it has contributed to majority of the professional institutions such as engineering colleges, pharmacy colleges and various other management institutes. In the case of professional colleges, the participation of the private sector varied between 50 to 95 per cent in various professional institutes during 2006- 2007.

In India about 44 per cent of the amount that the central government spends on higher education is allocated to the UGC. The UGC assists various institutions in the form of grants which is mainly utilized for maintenance and development and not capacity building.

Increase in demand for the years to come

It is estimated that in India, in order to meet the increased demand, an additional of 25 million seats will required in the higher education sector. Presently the higher education sector has 14.6 million students who are enrolled in various colleges in the country. Creating additional capacity of 25 million seats in the next decade will require a large investment which will be about Rs 10 lakh crore by 2020. With the current level of participation, the private sector is expected to make an investment of Rs 50,000 crore out of the total investment.

A change in structure

In India we follow a not for profit structure in education. Under this, the educational institution should be promoted by a trust or societies or Section 25 companies. The government should also think about encouraging for profit education, which should be monitored by a regulatory framework for adherence to certain standard.

The TeamLease report suggests that 10 per cent of the GDP should be spend on skill development which will bring in extra income which will amount to 61 per cent of the GDP. This will account to over 600 per cent of return on investment.

The government should not hand over the education to those who will consider this as a mere profit making mechanism and not as means for social good. Government can consider adopting Public Private Partnership (PPP) which will be a possible solution for the problem. The Human Resource development is considering different mix of PPP models for higher education which will different from those adopted in infrastructure development such as roads, ports etc.

PPP for establishing polytechnics and Indian institutes of information technology is already considered by the government. But the problem is that private parties are asking for autonomy, which will hamper the whole idea of social good.



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