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

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