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May 11, 2018

Essay - Importance of Private Universities in the Field of Higher Education

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Importance of Private Universities in the Field of Higher Education

  • Impact of globalisation and liberalisation on education system. 
  • Establishment of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). 
  • Private universities and their education system.
  • Merits of private universities. 
  • Most private universities do not receive any government aid. 
  • Large number of private universities was set up in different states. 
  • Some philanthropic universities offer quality education. 
  • Encouragement from government is needed for private universities.
The impact of globalisation and India's policy of liberalisation in its wake is visible everywhere, including education. The education sector is enjoying autonomy of sorts. The private players are
en-caching the students' hunger for higher education and establishing private colleges in every Indian state. With the regular increase in the number of students, the seats in colleges and universities are falling short. The crucial question to be asked in this regard is, should we allow private universities in such large numbers? The answer in a sense is yes because the present state-run universities are incapable of providing enough seats for the willing and serious students who intend to pursue higher studies. Such void can be filled only by private universities.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was set-up in November 1945 as a national level Apex Advisory body. Its responsibility is to conduct a survey on the facilities on technical education and to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner. But the inadequacy of educational institution in the higher level forced the government to pass the Private Universities Establishment and Regulation Bill in 1995 to encourage the establishment of private universities. Private universities in India are regulated under the UGC Regulation 2003. Also per this regulation, the UGC sends committees to inspect the private universities and publish their inspection report. The UGC list of private universities as on 5th July, 2016 lists 239 private universities. Besides these, other types of universities controlled by UGC are Central Universities (47), State Universities (350) and Deemed Universities (123).

There are some major differences between the government universities and private universities. The private universities invite the students and paint the rosy pictures of higher education but without any guarantee of job after completion of degree or diploma. The guarantee is only for a certificate, at a price. The same parents objecting to rise in government college fee will be prepared to pay any price for a good alternative because, here, the question is about the quality. The Ministry of HRD set up a core group of six members, from the private sector, who gave their valuable views and recommendation with regard to the standard maintained by the private universities.

Private universities not only have to survive a tough competition but also develop and maintain a high standard of education in each stream and build infrastructure like adequate building premises, libraries, laboratories, engage qualified and capable faculty and create the system of conducting exams, assessing the answer sheets and awarding degrees. They also need to orient the syllabi according to the demands of various types of industries, business and services, bringing necessary changes off and on as per changing technologies.

Private universities should ensure that they do not become mere machines for producing graduates and postgraduates. The efforts and time of the students and the money of their parents should not go in vain. It has been experienced that the government universities can survive even if they do not meet the expectations of the students and the parents, but the same cannot be said about the private universities. Some private universities, which are collaborated with foreign institutions not only fulfil the dream of the students, but also place the students on par with their foreign counterparts.

Here, the students can get the opportunity to become competent and skilled like the students studying in reputated universities abroad. These universities have invested heavily in courses which have contemporary importance. Some private universities are more like business houses than educational centres. They run on the fee of the students. The expenditure of running the university is quite high-including high cost of building infrastructure, salaries of highly qualified teachers and other staff and day-to-day expenses and payment of electricity, telephone, water bills and taxes. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for them to keep their courses so attractive that there is great lure among the students to seek admission in them.

Although the government has proposed several initiatives in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) in the areas of expansion, excellence and funding, there are several systemic barriers that restrict entry of private higher education providers. The government intends to achieve enrolment of 35.9 million students in higher education institutions, with a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 25.2 per cent, by the end of the 12th Plan period through the co-existence of multiple types of institutions including research-centric, teaching and vocation-focused ones.

"The private sector can be expected to play an instrumental role in the achievement of these outcomes through the creation of knowledge 44 networks, research and innovation centres, corporate-backed institutions and support for faculty development," said the report, 'Indian Higher Education: The Twelfth Plan and Beyond'. Most private institutions do not receive aid from the government, whereas 52 per cent of the grants of the University Grants Commission (UGC) go to central universities, catering to less than one lakh students. The top higher educational institutions in the country, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, among others, cater to 1 per cent of the population, making them highly elitist, whereas in several countries in Europe such as France and Germany, the elite institutions in various fields cater to 10 per cent of their much smaller populations.

Earlier, private sector participation in higher education has been in highly specialised areas such as engineering, management and medicine were restricted. However, the government's inability to invest heavily in higher education to take care of growing needs has left the field wide open to the participation of private players in this arena. In the future, we are likely to see a significant rise in the number of private universities in India, as universities, under one umbrella, can provide general undergraduate courses, as also specialised courses such as engineering, management, journalism, law, and art and design, among others.

In recent past, a large number of private universities have been set up in most of the states of one country. The increasing higher educational needs are met only by these private universities. To attract more students these universities offer modern and need based programmes. These universities not only help the students but also boost economic growth as a country's socio-economic development is directly linked with is educational system.

In India too, the government spends a significant amount per student for IITs and IIMs. Commercial private players often do not have the same infrastructure and therefore cannot pursue quality higher education actively. However, with rapid economic growth, the private sector has reacted to the needs of our workforce and set up a large number of professional colleges, especially in engineering and management. Recently, we have seen an emergence of philanthropic universities such as Azim Premji University and Shiv Nadar University that are offering quality education.

Private universities in higher education are also breaking conventional paradigms in education. They focus on developing 21st century skills, critical thinking, communication and leadership. Some such universities in India have invested heavily in courses which are of contemporary significance. Our government should encourage good private universities to grow and expand which will produce highly professional and qualified manpower. These new breed of private institutions can complement elite public institutions and establish international standards of excellence in the field of higher education in India.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Autonomy the state of existing or acting separately from others.
  • Pursue try to achieve something.
  • Integrated in which many different parts are closely connected and work successfully.
  • Vocation-focused a particular type of work of teaching upon which attention is given.
  • Boost to help something to increase, improve or become more successful.
  • Paradigm a set of ideas that are used for understanding or explaining something especially in a particular subject.
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