NITI Aayog working on regulatory framework for Higher Education Sector

During an event to mark the release of the 100th edition of ‘Careers360’ niche magazine in the higher education domain the voice to bring about reformation in India’s over-regulated higher education sector was raised. The 100th edition release was preceded and succeeded by panel discussions on burning issued related to higher education. Shiv Nadar University’s Vice Chancellor Prof. Rupamanjari Ghosh, BML Munjal University’s Vice Chancellor Prof. B. Satyanarayana, IMT-Ghaziabad Director Dr. Atish Chattopadhyay, IMI Director General Dr. Debashis Chatterjee, Amity University Chancellor Atul Chauhan, among others participated.

The need of the hour is to bring about rapid reforms in the higher educational sectors along with the rigorous and rapid push. Irrespective of the fact that India has also achieved a lot in terms of higher education system, yet the present higher education system of India is “over-regulated and over-governed.” Many government institutions like IITs, IISs, IIMs have set benchmarks of quality and have been functioning for decades with great quality interest and these have been supplemented by initiatives of private sector. The challenge is to take such institutions to the level of eminence that is recognized across the world.

India has grown hugely in higher education sector since independence. This is very much evident from the fact that universities in India in India are growing at a rapid scale. There are over 40, 000 colleges, 12,000 standalone institutions. What does this reflect? This reflects the dynamism with which India is growing, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said in the event.

India has attained substantial progress in the higher education sector citing the gross enrollment ratio of India at the time of independence was just 0.4 and its 25 percent now. However, India needs to benchmark them against China as both were at the same level in early 1960’s, but today Beijing’s enrollment ratio is almost 43 percent. Chinese’s universities are ranked in top 100 and he does not see any reason as to why India should not have same growth trajectory.

In the words of NITI Aayog CEO, the higher education system of India is over regulated and the Aayog is working over the same. “We are working to create an easy and simple regulatory framework. We need to expand the higher education sector and for that we need good institutions. Over-regulation needs to be completely scrapped. We should be facilitators instead of being inspectors,” he said.

More rapid reforms should be brought in India’s higher education sector. The regulatory framework needs to be shaken up so as to form an integrated system. To bring about the same, the MHRD, NITI Ayog and the UGC have constituted a committee. The outcome would be a ‘simple structure’ that would oversee the domain. Many of the present problem in the education sector is due to the fact that education has been termed as Non-Profit. There is no such thing called “not-for-profit”. The objective should be to generate profit, which could be re-invested. The transparency would usher in once changes were made to the policy framework whereby institutions could make decent profit which could be ploughed back to the sector.

Emphasizing over the fact that India does not have a single world-class university, it was informed that Prime Minister himself is taking interest in creating twenty world class universities, ten each in private and public sector. And these outstanding universities need to be promoted and government should act like a catalyst.

How India will become a study destination for international students? India will have to create an ecosystem which should be able to attract vast numbers of students. For the same, the universities will have to focus on research and innovation which would further prevent Indian students from taking admissions in third-grade institutions abroad.

Why GST is so stringent on the education sector with an 18% tax on Higher education admissions and fee? To this NITI Aayog CEO said the institutions failed to make a ‘Huge noise” on this and promised that the NITI Aayog would look into the matter “within two months”.

With each passing year, India is attaining heights. As of today, about 3 hundred million students are enrolled in about 1.5 million schools, we have about 8.6 million teachers at the school level 868 universities, we have almost 41000 colleges and for students perspective if ever there was a time on information or the choices or options to do the higher education it was now, but recall the yester years there were available only few options.

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