Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Higher education reforms: autonomous colleges

The Indian government is thinking of freeing colleges from universities and letting them run their own show. This was announced by human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal during his meeting with principal secretaries and secretaries of higher education from the states.

In order to become independent, colleges will first have to excel in many areas. Should they improve further, they could be allowed to become universities.

The Centre plans to create a three-tier system of affiliated colleges, autonomous colleges and universities. Their standards will be judged through an accreditation system formulated by the States so that students know the quality and resources of institute they attend. That would introduce competition among the educational institutions.

The government wants to regulate the fees and the admission process in private and unaided colleges and create a regulatory mechanism to prevent the business of capitation fees. States have also been asked for ideas on how to insulate the selection of vice-chancellors from politics.

A three-month deadline has been set for the education secretaries to prepare a vision document on the targets to be achieved in higher education by 2020. That must contain the state's targets for higher education till 2020, details of the current conditions, the number of universities and colleges, what the state thinks of their quality and a plan to increase Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education. The document will help the government plug loopholes, boost the sector and set benchmarks for 2020.

The government has ambitious plans for enrollment. It plans to bring a 5% increase in GER by the end of the 11th Plan and raise it to the global average of 30% by 2020. The states were also pulled up for pinching pennies on the education. According to the Ministry, the Centre's education spend, as a percentage of GDP, has increased to 0.91% in 2009 from 0.53% in 2000-01, while the states' spend has declined from 3.76% to 2.73%.

National Knowledge Commission on Higher Education

USA-India Educational Exchange

Full interest subsidy on educational loans for poor students

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brain drain

Over 2.64 lakh students, who have gone abroad for studies, are spending approximately USD 5.5 billion (about Rs 27,000 crore) every year, Lok Sabha (Parliament of India) was informed. Most of the students who go abroad for higher education, seek jobs in the foreign country, resulting in a permanent loss of talent for the country.

This huge outflow of money and the brain can be at least partly reduced if the universities and the technical institutions in India deliver what their foreign counterparts do.

It is essential that conducive atmosphere is created in India so that the reputed foreign universities come here. The entry of foreign institutions in the higher education shall generate healthy competition and help improving the quality of education as a whole.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Higher education: Harvard, Stanford, MIT, welcome to India

The Human Resource Development Minister of India, Kapil Sibal, says foreign universities like Harvard are welcome in India. He expressed that these universities will come to India on certain terms and conditions. Everyone's view will be taken into consideration and decision will be taken according to the national interest.

The foreign universities are investing in the developing country like Malaysia. The expenses incurred in educating a child there are just half of that in Australia. If the universities are giving the same education in Malaysia at half the price, they are welcome to do the same in India too.

The academic standard of Indian universities is poor, especially in the area of research in science and technology. The top world universities give considerable emphasis on research. The competition with foreign universities shall motivate Indian universities to improve academic standard and pursue research. It will also be a good career opportunity for the competent faculty.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Higher education: thrust area in India Finance Budget 2009

The newly elected United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has made higher education its thrust area with a view to increasing the gross enrollment ratio to 15 per cent by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan.

The key announcement in this regard was made by the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget speech on Monday, in the form of a student loan for economically weaker sections. Under this scheme, eligible students will be provided full interest subsidy during the period of moratorium. It will cover loans taken by such students from scheduled banks to pursue any of the approved courses of study, in technical and professional streams, from recognised institutions in the country. An estimated 0.5 million students would benefit from this scheme.

He also extended the scope of Section 80E of the Income-tax Act — providing tax exemptions for educational loans to pursue higher studies in specific areas — to cover all sectors including vocational studies after school.

While the Plan outlay for higher education has been raised from Indian Rs. 6,8000 million in 2008-09 to Rs. 9,5960 million, the allocation for school education and literacy remains static at Rs. 26,8000 million. However, the non-Plan outlay in both departments has gone up sizeably; primarily owing to the increase in salaries following the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

Ref: Hindu Daily, Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Full interest subsidy on educational loans for poor students