India has achieved significant increase in enrolment to higher education over the last decade. However, there is serious dissonance in terms of relative access by different sections of its population. There is a valid perception that discriminatory practices often impinge compromise on quality. This paper argues that it is possible to ensure excellence while providing improved access to students from SC/ST through a policy of reservation. The paper brings out a unique experiment in Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Odisha where there is remarkable convergence between all-round excellence through empathetic intervention. Concrete measures like vibrant Public Private Partnership (PPP), increased allocation, inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by collaborating with reputed foreign universities and use of ICT and Open Distance Learning (ODL) & above all a more sensitive regulatory agency can be powerful recipes for achieving the goals of higher inclusive growth, Improved Human Development Index (HDI) and higher Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) (25%) in higher education.
CHALLENGES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY IN INDIA (Published)
There has been a significant growth in enrolment in higher education in recent years; which has been substantially contributed by the private sector in technical education. However, despite various initiatives, a New Education Policy after 1992 is yet to be promulgated which is in sync with India’s liberalization policy to foster quality & improve Human Development Index (HDI). Research and excellence remain a serious challenge, compounded by policy prevarication. Public funding arrangement is grossly inadequate and largely to elitist institutions. The paper argues that our obsession with improving enrolment has to give way to credible quality improvement measures. Specifically there is a need to upscale public spending, treat private sector as a partner, improve industry academia interface, encourage research, Public Private Partnership (PPP), improve infrastructure and encourage FDI into higher education sector through MoUs with reputed foreign universities. The paper also cautions against recent ambivalence towards Open Distance Learning (ODL).