Do we need approval?

Students of Indian IIMs are managing the affairs of top MNCs and proven themselves to be at par with any foreign graduates.

International ranking agency ‘Quacquarelli Symonds’ (QS) has recently published a list of top ranked 200 universities globally, which does not include even one university from India. A university from Singapore, namely National University of Singapore (NSU) comes in the 24th position in this list. Interestingly, most of the universities included in this list are from the USA and Europe.

 However, in the list of top 200 Asian universities, four Indian universities find place. In case of other institutions 38th position goes to IIT Delhi. IIT Mumbai, IIT Madras, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorki are at 39th, 49th, 51st, 58th, and 66th positions respectively. University of Delhi comes in 80th position, while other three universities --Universities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune are at 140th, 143rd and 181st positions respectively.

If we accept these rankings, it puts a question mark on the legitimacy of top institutions and universities in the country. It is notable that there has been a significant development in the field of education after independence. Today there are more than 400 universities and 20,000 institutions of higher education in the country, where more than seven lakh teachers are working, imparting education to more than 150 lakh students.

The nation is proud of hosting 17 IITs and 13 IIMs whose products (students) have proven their worth internationally in the fields of science and technology (especially software) and management; ex-students of IIMs are managing big corporate (both in India and abroad). Today Indian doctors and engineers are making India stand apart in these fields. According to All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in 2006 there were 1,268 engineering colleges, which had increased to 3,346 in 2012. However, it is also a fact that we are not able to absorb all our engineering graduates.

 We may agree to the point that despite this huge educational infrastructure a majority of our students do not stand up to expectations. We need to learn from the world’s top universities. But there is no need to be overtly disturbed by the rankings as published in ‘QS’ report. If somebody wants to examine the level of education of any educational institution, they must look at the international performance of the students of those educational institutions.

 Today our doctors are working in large numbers in almost all developed countries, especially in the USA and Europe. Their expertise is well recognised the world over. In the USA more than 40 per cent doctors are from India. Our IT graduates have proven their worth globally in the field of computer software. Students of IIMs are managing the affairs of top MNCs and proven themselves to be at par with any foreign graduates, if not better.

Chosen few

Even then if international rating agencies put Indian institutes on the second grade position, we can understand that there is a chance of ‘bias’ or ‘design’ to malign our educational institutions. Commercialisation of education has increased. In the era of liberalisation and globalisation country is flooded with private sector technical and other educational institutions. Now the government is trying to bring in foreign universities directly or from back door. It is notable that not more than 5 per cent of households have more than Rs 2 lakh of annual income. Therefore benefits of private educational institutions will remain concentrated with only a chosen few. Government today is talking about reaping the demographic dividend, 'thanks' to our youth population. But even today a majority of our youth is deprived of appropriate education facilities.

Commercialisation of education will create further problems in universalisation of education. Therefore, while not discouraging private sector in education, government needs to make investment in education (at all levels). The condition is deteriorating at primary and secondary levels of education. We have failed to create appropriate infrastructure. We may even have to link education to industry, so that skill developed through education could be directly useful for industry. However, we need not obtain certificate from international ranking agencies.

It is fact that there is no system in place for ranking of our universities and education institutions. However there is a bill pending in Parliament with a view to constitute a regulatory authority, in the name and style of ‘National Accreditation Regulatory Authority’ (NARA). According to this proposed legislation, NARA would be established, task of which would be to regulate accreditation agencies. Each institution of higher education will have to get itself accredited with one of the agencies, which would undertake the task to certify the academic standards of the respective institution.

Our leadership thinks in an extremist fashion, as it has a mindset, that anything foreign is good. They feel that any world level project of skill development can run only by inviting foreign educational institutions, which is merely an illusion. Although a bill to allow foreign universities to set up their institutions in India is still pending in Parliament, the government is trying to allow these universities from back door. Many universities in the developed countries who are unable to sustain themselves due to economic meltdown are dreaming of trying their luck in our country inhabited by nearly 124 crore people.

Government of India is giving them a red carpet welcome. This endeavour of the government is not going to benefit the nation.

In fact if the government provides more funds for education, in tune with the global practices and develop educational infrastructure, it may yield better results. It is notable that public spending on education in India is hardly 3.3 per cent of GDP, while it is 5.4 per cent in US, 5.6 per cent in UK and 6 per cent in South Africa. If we want to bring about improvement in our education sector, we can achieve the same, only by coming out of the western mindset.

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