Higher Education in India Challenges and Opportunities. | 93643
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Higher Education in India Challenges and Opportunities.


Desh Raj Bajhwa*

Higher education in India has expanded rapidly over the past two decades. This growth has been mainly driven by private sector initiatives. There are genuine concerns about many of them being substandard and exploitative. Due to the government’s ambivalence on the role of private sector in higher education, the growth has been chaotic and unplanned. The regulatory system has failed to maintain standards or check exploitation instead; it resulted in erecting formidable entry barriers that have generated underside results. Voluntary accreditation seems to have no takers from amongst private providers and apparently serves little purpose for any of its stakeholders. The higher education system in India grew rapidly after independence. By 1980, there were 132 universities and 4738 colleges in the country enrolling around five percent of the eligible age group in higher education. Today, while in terms enrolment, India is the third largest higher education system in the world (after China and the USA) with 17973 institutions (348 universities and 17625 colleges) and is the largest higher education system in the world in terms of number of institutions. There are different types of universities and colleges in the higher education system in the country. They vary terms of their academic, administrative and financial arrangements. Universities can either be established by an Act of Parliament or by the state legislatures. Those established by the Act of Parliament are the central universities and the ones set up by the state legislatures are state universities. Some higher education institutions are granted the ‘deemed university’ status by the central government through gazette notifications. A few institutions are established by the Parliament / state legislatures as institutions of national importance. Universities, deemed universities and institutions of national importance are degree-granting institutions. The expansion of higher education system in India has been chaotic and unplanned. The drive to make higher education socially inclusive has led to a sudden and dramatic increase in numbers of institutions without a proportionate increase in material and intellectual resources. As a result, academic standards have been jeopardized. There are many basic problems facing higher education in India today. These include inadequate infrastructure and facilities, large vacancies in faculty positions and poor faculty outmoded teaching methods, declining research standards, unmotivated students, overcrowded classrooms and widespread geographic, income, gender and ethnic imbalances. There is an inadequate and diminishing financial support for higher education from the government and from society. Many colleges established in rural areas are non-viable, are under enrolled and have extremely poor infrastructure and facilities with just a few teachers. Apart from these, the system of higher education has met several setbacks with regard to its regulatory framework, finding and Frances and the much debated and controversial move of privatization of higher educational institutions. These underlying issues will be identified and addressed in the paper

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