Giving higher education a boost
Oct 04 2012, 20:43 | By Forbes India
Udit Misra/Forbes India
For reforming higher education in India, the challenge lies in implementing new initiatives in the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-2017), Pawan Agarwal - the man behind the mission - tells Forbes India
The idea is to bring about a difference in the discourse of higher education. The current discourse is too focussed on Gross Enrollment Ratios (GER), the percentage of money spent on higher education. While this is important, one has to get into the details of how greater spending will translate into better education.Though there is greater demand for higher education today, much of the private sector higher education is confined to engineering and management. Therefore, we also need greater diversity in higher education to reflect the realities of the labour markets.
We started the consultation process a year ago. Apart from regular meetings, we also had a number of consultations on cross-cutting issues. Unless there's an acceptance of an idea by the people involved, it isn't translated into action. At each stage we kept all stakeholders, like the Ministry of HRD and other apex bodies, in the loop. We have been able to arrive at a very robust framework for higher education in the 12th Plan.
We're not saying anything new but that's the beauty of this plan. We are focussing on the quality of implementation and bringing in greater clarity on how it'll happen over the next five years. Rather than using anecdotal evidence or rhetoric, we've tried to make use of hard data in framing strategies. There's greater emphasis on state universities and colleges. We could do this by showing that the central institutions, while being important, cater to less than 3 percent of the student population.
In the past, we talked about main targets in higher education and using the metric of GER. In response to raising GER, we said we've set up so many central universities and IITs. But, all these central universities and IITs put together added just about 1 lakh seats over the 11th Plan period (2007-12). Compare this to the total 90 lakh seats that were added to the system, most of them in the private sector and state institutions. There's been a disparity between the outlays we provided and the outcomes we got. This time, we are trying to align these things.
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