New five year plan and focus on quality in education


The most important agenda in the Higher education policy of India will be improvement of quality of education and allocation of more funds to the Universities run by the state. The last few years witnessed a huge expansion of higher education institutions across the country and that was a top priority of the government.

The change in focus

The huge infrastructure development in the higher education sector and the recruitment of faculty could not meet the requirements and global standards. So from 2012 onwards the focus will be on enhancing the quality of the existing institutions and new ones. It will be included as an important agenda in the 12th five year plan.

The Foreign Educational Institution Bill

Quality in the higher education is important for setting up partnerships with foreign institutions. It gains importance in the wake of the entry if a foreign higher education institution into India, once the Foreign Educational Institution Bill is passed in the parliament. The year 2012 is an important year for the higher education sector due to the number of bills awaiting clearance in the parliament. But official sources say that state elections to be held towards the beginning of 2012 will slow down the process of enacting the controversial bill in the first half of the year.

The emphasis on infrastructure development in the 11th five year plan

In the last five year plan (2007 to 2012), the government had declared the setting up of 51 new higher education institutions funded by the government. It consist of 8 Indian Institutes of technology (IITs) and seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). But construction of only four out of eight IITs and five out of seven IIMs have started. In many of these institutions about 40 per cent of the faculty positions are still not filled. Only about 50 per cent of the announced institutions were started, while most of them face issues with the acquisition of land and shortages of administrative and teaching staff. This proves that adding new institutions is no longer a viable option to improve the higher education sector in India.

The importance of quality of education in the 12th five year plan

According to an official source from the ministry of education, who do not want to reveal the identity, the focus of the 12th five year plan will be on enhancing the quality of higher education institutions funded by the central and state government in order to compete with the best institutions across the world. He added that setting up of new institutions will be considered as a secondary target. It is said that four new IITs will be set up in the medium term and no new IIMs will be set up. In the current plan it was already announced that 14 innovation universities and 374 model college will be set up, but nothing in that direction has been done till now. It will be carried forward to the new plan.

The condition of the state universities

The state universities which are running short of funds, which were avoided in the recent higher education budget by the central government is expected to get financial assistance from the central government this year. The 12th five year plan has observed that the state universities and the institutions under them face the issue of shortage of fund, poor governance and bad quality. Such universities and institutions account for 90 per cent of student enrolment in the country.

In order to clear the foreign institutions bill that will permit foreign institutions to set up branches in India, the government needs the support of the parliament, which in turn requires the strengthening of the state universities.

According to Professor Prakash T Chande, president of the Association of Indian Universities, the support given by the central government is protective in nature. He said that they have informed the central government that the state universities need to be strengthened to prepare them to compete with the foreign universities once branches of foreign universities are set up in India.

The advantages enjoyed by the foreign universities

The foreign universities and institutions will have enough budget, funds and manpower. The main objection towards the foreign education bill is that in India a level playing field does not exist in the higher education sector.

The foreign education bill was approved by the cabinet in March 2010. But the government could not clear the bill in the parliament as a result of the controversies that arouse out of the bill. It has to travel a long way through the legislative process which often is considered to be mazy.

The suggestions by the parliamentary committee on human resource development

The parliamentary committee on human resource development has suggested revising the clause that prevents repatriation of profits and that a certain percentage of the he surplus may be allowed to repatriate by the foreign institutions. It is up to the ministry of education to accept or reject the recommendations of the committee. The bill can be re introduced in the parliament once it is approved by the cabinet.

Other bills to be cleared

Another important bill that awaits the clearance of the parliament is the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) bill. If this bill is cleared by the parliament, it will bring about autonomy in the field of higher education. The bill will introduce a regulatory body in the field of higher education which will integrate the present regulatory bodies such as UGC, AICTE, and CDE, which will supervise the higher education in the country.

There are few more bills that are directed at enhancing the quality and accountability of higher education in India through mandatory accreditation of all institutions, regulations to prevent malpractices by the educational institutions and the introduction of national education tribunals to resolve disputes.

The 12th five year plan gives importance to private participation in the field of higher education. But there are doubts about the success of this idea and the implications in the higher education field.



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