By Ritika Chawla:
Higher education in India has lagged behind due to a variety of reasons. According to statistics of 2003-04, hardly 7-8% of the population is enrolled in the institutes of higher education in the country. Moreover, public expenditure on higher education is just 0.37% of the total GDP. Statistics also show that there has been a 28% decline in expenditure per student in just 12 years!
Higher education has suffered from both quantitative and qualitative constraints. Given the population that we have, the number of institutes for higher studies is highly inadequate. This has caused a large number of Indian students to look abroad for their higher studies. In fact, India is one of the largest importer of education at present. In 2004-05 US had 80,466 students from India, higher than those from any other country. Along with huge outflow of money capital, this also leads to a drain of human capital.
Given this backdrop, the education ministry came up with the proposal of 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in higher education in the country, in 2007. This would then allow foreign universities to set up their campuses in India. Since then this topic has been hotly debated by academicians.
Arguments for the proposal
Arguments against the proposal
There is thus an urgent need to address the deficiencies facing our higher education sector. However, one sided response to it won’t solve the problem. The best option is the middle path. Government should allow foreign universities to invest in education sector but under strict regulation. It should shortlist the preferred universities for investment and then invite them to set campus in India. Low grade universities should not be allowed entry in the country. Moreover government should provide incentives to foreign universities to setup institutes in areas of research and academics, which is much needed in the country. Thus government needs to act with strictness and discretion in development of higher education.