The Road  ahead

A White Paper on ‘Administrative Reforms in Higher Education’ released by the CII looks at a few aspects that can revitalize the higher education sector

The Road  ahead

A ccording to a White Paper prepared by the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) National Committee on Higher Education, Indian higher education can be revitalized with greater participation of the private sector in a more liberal and encouraging investment climate. The Paper on “Administrative Reforms in Higher Education” outlines recommendations, was released at the ‘Global University-Industry Congress and 5th Global Higher Education Summit last week.

The 12th Five Year Plan projects that enrollment in all degree and diploma courses at higher education level has to increase from the current 20 million to 30 million, with particularly high rates of growth in PhD, post-graduate and under-graduate technical education.

The Paper says that for the entry of private entities in the education sector, what stand in the way of growth are the barriers to entry and expansion as clearances by multiple agencies with  varying  norms, standards, speed and efficiency are required at every stage. The White Paper includes some specific recommendations in this regard and emphasizes that top-most priority should be given to the establishment of a single window agency with transparent and coherent norms. It suggests that this agency should consult with all the related agencies and there should be no further questions or obstacles in further implementation of projects.

In addition to expediting the clearances of the projects and post-project approvals, the Paper also talks about verification of quality standards, which should be left to accreditation agencies and not be made the concern of any regulatory body. “What should be regulated and what should not be regulated should also be made clear,” says the report.

It also says that that process of accreditation would lead to a continuous improvement in standards, be it the teaching-learning process, upgrading the curriculum or assessments.

According to a senior educationist, the point mentioned for accreditation is apt. “The report says that: ‘Considering the size of the country and large number of institutions to be covered, a large number of independent autonomous accreditation agencies distributed geographically could be recognised for this purpose.’ This is a problem that many education institutions have faced in the past and some are still facing, so if this recommendation is taken into consideration, there would be tremendous improvement in the process,” he says.

The White Paper talks about higher education and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in detail, defining the terms and outlining the formalities to be adhered to. It highlights and gives recommendations on how higher education can be promoted under the ambit of CSR. The Paper recommends that: A good part of CSR activities could thus be focused on higher education.”

It has been estimated that only a fourth of the Rs 4 lakh crore required for higher education is going to come from the public sector. The major portion of the new outlay required is thus to be mobilized from non-government resources which include:

  • Student fees
  • Donations and community contributions
  • CSR activities
  • Private investment in higher education – Indian and foreign,
  • Loans provided by banks and other agencies.

The Paper calls for administrative reforms in rules and regulations of various bodies, professional councils, UGC, AICTE etc and creating a synergy between them. Further, it propagates review of the university rules and regulations and the Acts from the point of view of providing necessary flexibility and relevance for dealing with multifarious agencies. It also welcomes the new initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development on RUSA which provides a unique opportunity for fostering innovation eco system in higher education.

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