Thursday, December 27, 2012

Higher Education In India: Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017) And Beyond

India as one of the largest higher education systems in the world, with 25.9 million students enrolled in more than 45,000 degree and diploma institutions in the country. It has witnessed particularly high growth in the last decade, with enrollment of students increasing at a CAGR of 10.8% and institutions at a CAGR of 9%. The private sector has played an instrumental role in this growth, with private institutions now accounting for 64% of the total number of institutions and 59% of enrollment in the country, as compared to 43% and 33%, respectively, a decade ago. The Government has also given the required thrust to the sector in its Five Year Plans. During the Eleventh Plan period (2007–2012), India achieved a Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of 17.9%, up from 12.3% at the beginning of the Plan period. Various legislative actions were also taken during this period, including the introduction of the Higher Education and Research Bill, the Educational Tribunal Bill and the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, to enhance transparency and quality in the sector. However, in spite of the significant progress made during the past few years, India’s higher education sector is still plagued with several challenges, e.g., its relatively low GER, inequitable access to higher education by community, gender and geography, and lack of high-quality research and education institutions, resulting in sub-optimal outcomes. The Twelfth Plan recognizes these challenges and proposes several initiatives around six focus areas to address them. 
Expansion – augmenting capacity in existing institutions 

- creating targeted schemes for backward and minority communities 

- building excellence through research and innovation, faculty development, and internationalization 

- enhancing institutional autonomy and transparency 

– increasing public and private funding and linking them to outcomes 

Implementation and monitoring 
– improving co-ordination across ministries and agencies The Twelfth Plan emphasizes on building “excellence” in India’s higher education system. Several institutions are already pursuing this objective, albeit in a less holistic manner. For example: 

Manipal University is internationalizing its education system by providing global exposure to students and faculty through “twinning” programmes, research collaborations, and teaching forums with international institutes. 

The Indian School of Business (ISB) has been able to attract world-class faculty by offering a conducive research environment and attractive remuneration. 

The India-UK Advanced Instability Methods (AIM) Network has successfully created a platform for industrial and institutional partners to jointly conduct applied research for industrial purposes. 

BITS Pilani provides its students work-integrated learning opportunities through collaborationswith leading corporate houses through its “Practice School” programme. Going forward, we expect the quality imperative to be looked at more comprehensively by institutions and in line with their orientation: research-focused, teaching-focused, and vocational-focused. India’s higher education system can be expected to be better aligned to industry and global practices, and be more transparent and inclusive by the end of Twelfth Plan period, provided the Government is able to create an enabling regulatory environment and put in place robust implementation, monitoring and quality assurance mechanisms in the sector.

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