Higher and Professional Education in India

Higher education in India is gasping for breath at a time when India is aiming to be an important player in the emerging knowledge economy. With about 300 universities and deemed universities, over 15,000 colleges and hundreds of national and regional research institutes, Indian higher education and research sector is the third largest in the world, in terms of the number of students it caters to.

However, not a single Indian university finds even a mention in a recent international ranking of the top 200 universities of the world, except an IIT Kharagpur ranked at 41, whereas there were three universities each from China, Hong Kong and South Korea and one from Taiwan. On the other hand, it is also true that there is no company or institute in the world that has not been benefited by graduates, post-graduates or Ph.Ds from India be it NASA, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Bell, Sun, Harvard , MIT, Caltech, Cambridge or Oxford, and not all those students are products of our IITs, IIMs, IISc / TIFR or central universities, which cater to barely one per cent of the Indian student population.

This is not to suggest that we should pat our backs for the achievements of our students abroad, but to point out that Indian higher educational institutions have not been able to achieve the same status for them as their students seem to achieve elsewhere with their education from here. While many reasons can be cited for this situation, they all boil down to decades of feudally managed, colonially modeled institutions run with insufficient funding and excessive political interference.

Only about 10 per cent of the total student population incomes higher education in India, as compared to over 15 per cent in China and 50 per cent in the major industrialized countries. Higher education is large funded by the state and central governments so far, but the situation is changing fast. Barring a few newly established private universities, the government funds most of the universities, whereas at the college level, the balance is increasingly being reversed.