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Changing face of Indian Higher Education System

Friday, 23 Jan 2015, 20:49 IST

Indian higher education, currently the third largest in the world, is likely to surpass the U.S. in the next five years and China in the next 15 years, to become the largest system of higher education in the world. Higher education in India has recorded impressive growth since Independence, but there is an immediate need to transform the country’s higher education system. Indian higher education has a complex structure riddled with many contradictions, still has great possibilities.

India, by 2030 will be amongst the youngest nations in the world. With nearly 140 million people in the college-going age group, one in every four graduates in the world will be a product of the Indian education system. University Grants Commission (UGC) is designing programmes and implementing various schemes through academic, administrative and financial support, which will contribute in the growth and development of Indian higher education. In the changing landscape, entrance of private universities will be a game changer, it will not have direct impact on the government universities (State or Central Universities) as the education in these universities is highly subsidized but will give more options to the students. A large section of education leaders also believe that entry of foreign universities will change the face of Indian Higher Education System. India is a country with millions of children knocking the doors of higher education each year. Therefore, it is seen as an opportunity by many foreign higher education institutions to expand their reach beyond the boundaries of their own nation not only to provide education to Indian student community but also in generating good revenue.

Over the last two decades, India has remarkably transformed its higher education landscape. Many new institutions of medicine, science, technology and others have been introduced. At the time of Independence of India, there were only 20 Universities and 500 Colleges in the country with 2.1 lakhs students in higher education. The numbers now have increased to 30 times in the case of the Universities, 74 times in the case of Colleges and the students enrolment has gone up to over 100 times in the formal system of higher education in comparison to the figures at the time of independence. A target of 30 percent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by 2017 from 15 percent in 2012 was set for the XII Plan. The five percent net increase was sought to be achieved through a dual strategy that include increasing the number of educational institutions, opening gates for foreign institutes and enhancing the intake capacity of existing institutions. It is clear that India is soon going to open up its higher education sector for foreign institutions to open up their campuses here and according to speculation it can be even bigger than the telecom boom that the country witnessed but providing connectivity is different thing than providing education. With well-planned expansion of 12th Plan by UGC Indian Higher education system will see a huge change.

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