Higher and technical education in India has drawn a lot of spotlight in recent times. With due understanding of the lead role that industry is expected to play in furthering future expansion and quality improvement of the higher and technical education sector, CII, both at the national and regional levels, has undertaken a number of initiatives to bring industry, academia and government together on a common platform. To set the agenda for improving the quality of higher education in the western region, a dedicated Task Force on Higher Education was formed in 2008-09 under the leadership of Dr Naushad Forbes, Director, Forbes Marshall Pvt Ltd. which is currently being steered by Dr Ganesh Natarajan, Vice Chairman and CEO, Zensar Technologies. The Task Force launched a series of industry led initiatives in the western region, beginning September 2009.
In this context, it became necessary to look at the existing scenario of the higher and technical education sector in the western states to gain a deeper and broader understanding of the issues involved. This has been the key motivation behind the study.
The study looks at the existing scenario of the higher and technical education sector in the western states (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa) within the broader framework of the sector as a whole in India. The study assesses the respective status of the states with focus on state government initiatives, industry-education linkages and brings out possible areas of future reform.
• There has been an impressive growth in the number of higher and technical education institutes in the states. Privatisation in higher education has been a feature common to the states, with a proliferation of private institutes in the technical disciplines. Private self financing institutes have by far outnumbered public ones. Maharashtra is the front runner in terms of both – number of institutes as well as student enrolment. This has been a welcome development considering the rising demand for technical institutes and the inability of the government to cater to this huge demand owing to budgetary constraints.
• Growth trends for institutes show that maximum growth has taken place in the case of engineering institutes with a corresponding rise in intake, indicating a strong social preference as well as demand for the discipline in all the states.
• Regarding financing of higher and technical education it has been observed that budgetary allocations towards higher and technical education as proportion of GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) for the four states is not very significant and leaves scope for further increase. However, an interesting feature is that PPPs in higher / technical education are being explored by the state governments as an alternate form of financing.
• The state governments have introduced a number of schemes/initiatives in the higher and technical education sectors including targeted scholarships for EWS/minorities/girl students, schemes for e governance, knowledge initiatives, to facilitate development and usher in reforms in the sector.
• The CII Task Force introduced a pioneering initiative in the western states aimed at fostering partnership between industry and higher education institutes. It was felt that “assessments” could be used as an effective tool to evaluate engineering colleges in terms of certain pre determined parameters identified by industry experts. A programme of assessment of engineering colleges in the region is accordingly being conducted as part of this initiative. Till date, courses in 16 colleges have been assessed under this initiative in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Concerns and Recommendations:
• Expansion in the number of institutions and intake capacity will not necessarily make higher education inclusive. An enabling policy framework is necessary to improve equity and access in higher education. For instance, rising demand and the large number of seats remaining vacant in the institutes in Maharshtra and Gujarat is a paradox of the system, raising issues of viability of institutes. A relook at norms for setting up of institutes may be necessary to ensure that they remain viable after their establishment.
• Economic barriers in accessing higher education have to be crossed by offering targeted scholarships/fellowships/subsidies for those who cannot afford higher education. While the state governments have introduced such schemes, greater awareness needs to be created about the schemes with correct dissemination of information. A relook at the performance of the education loan programme is essential it order to revitalize it.
• Quality is not standardised across institutes and there are few institutes of good quality. The system of Accreditation has not been functioning the way it should. There is a mismatch between growth in institutes and growth in faculty resulting in poor quality of education imparted in a large number of colleges. Performance linked incentives are required in order to make teaching an attractive proposition.
• Investment in higher education can be facilitated only if private promoters are able to meet the operational expenses besides generating returns for further capital investment and infrastructure improvements in higher education. In order to attract investment an enabling environment needs to be created. Over regulating the private sector in terms of regulating admissions, fees, curriculum etc. will act as hindrances to further investment in the sector.
• The necessity to forge effective partnerships between the industry and academia is crucial. The association will be one of the most effective means of tackling the lack of job readiness in the Indian labour market.?
• The CII assessment programmes for engineering colleges in the western states have been very well received by the academia. The post assessment suggestions for joint research, faculty development programmes, facility / equipments upgradation, setting up finishing schools / centres of excellence, conducting guest lectures by industry, introducing summer training / industrial internships for students, faculty sabbaticals for necessary training in industry, if implemented will yield the desired benefits in the coming years.
To get this report, please contact:
Confederation of Indian Industry
Western Region Headquarters
CII Western Regional Headquarters
105, Kakad Chambers1st Floor
132 Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli
Phone : 91-22-24931790, 24930565, 4930287