Could Indian government transform the future of Indian higher education with its latest reform proposal of bringing two leading regulators under one umbrella? In a recent update, the the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry which is responsible for higher education has proposed a new body–Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA)–which will merge two leading regulatory bodies.
In its current regulatory structure, the two regulatory bodies–University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)–are often at loggerheads in terms of their jurisdictions and approaches. UGC is primarily responsible for universities sector while AICTE is responsible for engineering and business colleges which are affiliated to universities.
They both have gone through their phases of confusion and corruption. For example there was a tussle between UGC and AICTE on who has power to regulate technical education (engineering and business) in India. Then there was UGC’s infamous “blacklisting” of deemed universities and then reversal of it. Both regulators have their own regulations on how to work with foreign institutions.
While the reform direction is along the lines of what India needs, there are many unknowns at this point in terms of the specifics. Given the recent experience with demonetization, the last thing Indian students, families and institutions want is shock and surprise.
Indian higher education is in a dire need to improve the quality and transparency of its higher education institutions on students, economy, and society. The chart below indicate the dramatic growth Indian higher education has witnessed. However, this expansion has come at the cost of quality which in turn has resulted in many students graduating with credentials without any job relevant skillsets.
Highlights from the data:
– Number of “State Private Universities” increased from just 14 in 2008 to 235 in 2016. These institutions are enacted by the State legislature but funded by private promoters (often business groups).
– In eight years, India added over 18,000 new colleges. These teaching colleges (public or private) are affiliated with universities which conduct tests and awards degrees.
Following chart indicates the growth by level of education and field of study.
– In eight years, number of students in Indian universities and colleges doubled to reach 28.5 million students. The growth in master’s and doctorate level is slower that the overall enrollment growth. The quality and supply of high quality faculty is suffering.
– Enrollment in Engineering/Technology programs increased by over 270% in eight years. With the slowdown in IT industry, concerns of H-1B visas and fears of layoffs, sustainability of many engineering colleges is in question. I previously blogged about demand and supply mismatch in engineering colleges and business schools bubble.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha