Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Seminar Details

02 Mar 2006

Higher Education in India: The Need for a Change
Mr. Pawan Agarwal
March 2, 2006
The research looks at the growth of higher education in India in international comparative perspective with particular reference to private initiatives. For the purpose of comparison, the research reviews the developments taking place in the United Kingdom, United States and China with respect to higher education. It notes that these countries have been using competition to foster change in building a high quality differentiated system of higher education. 

In the Indian context, the research begins with an empirical mapping of the growth since 1947. It analyzes the funding pattern – public (both centre and states) financing, expenditure by households and trends in students’ loans. The research examines the role of higher education in workforce development to meet domestic as well as global demand for qualified manpower in present times when both skilled work and skilled workers are moving across national borders. Evaluating the role of academic research in fostering innovation in Indian economy, its weaknesses have been outlined and the way forward suggested. 

The research examines the regulatory environment as it exists in India today under the changing circumstances. Taking into consideration the emerging market structure for higher education and peculiar nature of higher education as a service, specific areas of concern have been identified. In place of a detailed planning and control approach – not found useful in experience of many countries, a regulatory framework that takes care of market failure and facilitates market coordination has been advocated. 

The research points out that accreditation in India without any consequences as it exists today serve little purpose. Specific suggestions for changes in accreditation system in India have been made. Other important issues such as governance, academic profession, use of technology, trade related and statistical system and policy research issues have also been covered in this work. The usefulness of the work is in its comprehensive approach and comparative knowledge. 

The research has organized the complexity of the higher education system in India in a coherent framework. The study comes out with specific action points and makes distinction of high – from low leverage changes by weighing them according to importance, urgency, cost and time required. Though, the research does not get into nitty-gritty of each suggestion, however attempt has been made to define options and solutions at level of detail that underscores the practicality of the suggestions and more important the broad direction of change.


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