Education is a necessity for each and every individual. It is a means to reduce poverty in India. As per the UNESCO report (2014), education can help increase the earnings by up to 10%. Education also protects the working population from exploitation by increasing the level of opportunities and awareness. It helps reduce income disparities and drives economic progress. It is also necessary to look into the funding aspect.
India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, next only to the United States and China. India’s expenditure on higher education has seen some dramatic changes in the last 10 years, where the average allocation of funds for higher education in India has witnessed a steady rise. The NDA government invested heavily in education during 2017-18. Education consists of 1.62% of the GDP. The following table describes the allocation of budget for Higher Education as percentage of the total budget from 2008 to 2018.
Higher education is one of the most prominent areas where India should invest and the current government is doing just that. As per a report, 97% of students study in state universities and only remaining 3% study in central universities but 57.5% of the budget goes to central universities and other premier institution like the IITs and the IIMs.
The current government focuses more on providing funds to state universities by providing a unique scheme called Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA or National Higher Education Scheme).
Most of the universities in India used to get grants/funds from University Grants Commission. In 2018-19, the government allocated ₹1400 cr to RUSA and the allocation to UGC reduced from ₹4922.74 crore to ₹4722.57 crore. The argument is whether the current government reduced the funding or grants in education sector or not?
The government also announced the launch of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), a joint venture between the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) and Canara Bank to help premier institutions for developing infrastructure. Soon after the announcement, HEFA started operating. It clearly shows the government intends to create changes in existing educational system and infrastructure in India. When HEFA started operating in 2016-17, the capital expenditure rose to ₹1 crore, In 2017-18, it increased to ₹250 crore; in 2018-19, the allocation increased 10 times to ₹2,750 crore. It is clearly visible that our education system and infrastructure is changing at a rate of knots. May be it will take some time to transform it completely, there is a need for reforms to get better result in the future. This is what the current government is trying to do it.