FDI in Higher Education in India: Issues and Concerns

By Kumar, Navdeep | Political Economy Journal of India, July-December 2009 | Go to article overview

FDI in Higher Education in India: Issues and Concerns


Kumar, Navdeep, Political Economy Journal of India


Introduction

Higher education is assuming a growing significance for developing countries, especially countries including. India experiencing service-led growth. Higher education is all about generating knowledge, encouraging critical thinking and imparting skills relevant to this society and driven by its needs. Education general and higher education in particular, is a highly nation-specific activity, determined by national culture and priorities. The growth of India's higher educational institutions has indeed been spectacularly rapid. The numbers of universities have doubled since 1990-91, and enrolment has become more than doubled. But this has been at the expense of quality, increased rigidity in course design, poor absorption of knowledge, and growing lack of access to laboratory facilities, journals and opportunities for field work, etc. The average Indian graduate compares poorly with her/his counterpart in most countries, including many developing ones. The so-called elite institutions are extremely selective, and well-funded, but pose the problem of relevance and drain of talent. All this calls for reform, administrative changes, more funding, greater flexibility, quality improvement, etc. But this daunting task won't be remotely addressed by the entry of foreign universities. Government has proposed 100 percent foreign direct investment in higher education and hinted at making reservation mandatory in the institutions to be set up by foreign universities in the country. Once approved by the Cabinet and passed as law, the Foreign Education Providers (Regulation) Bill will grant deemed university status to such institutions.

The basic aim of this paper is to focus on the following aspects:

* To study the status of Indian higher education system

* To study the need of FDI in higher education in India

* To study the implication of the FDI in Indian higher education

* To achieve the above-mentioned objectives, the present paper has reviewed the existing literature relating the Indian higher education and the FDI.

Higher Education in India

Knowledge is the driving force in the rapidly changing globalized economy and society. Quantity and quality of highly specialized human resources determine their competence in the global market. Emergence of knowledge as driving factor results in both challenges and opportunities. It is now well recognized that the growth of the global economy has increased opportunities for those countries with good levels of education and vice versa. The benefits of globalization accrue to the countries with highly skilled human capital and it is a curse for the countries without such specialized human capital. India is no exception to this global phenomenon. As part of globalization, the economic reform packages were introduced in India in the beginning of 1991. These reform packages have imposed a heavy compression on the public budgets on education sector, more specifically so on higher education. Following the introduction of structural adjustment policies, that include macro economic stabilization and adjustment, a fiscal squeeze is experienced in all social sector investments in many developing countries, including India. This has down to public expenditure on education in general and higher education in particular.

When there was no university anywhere in Europe, Takshasila, Vikramsila, Pallavi and Nalanda Vishavidyalayas in India were radiation the rays of higher learning and were able to attract learners from home and abroad. Bengal had a particular role in the expansion of the scope of higher education, and the development of modern higher education in India started with the establishment of Hindu College in Calcutta in 1817. In the whole of the then British empire, Calcutta University was the first to confer the bachelor degree on women in 1883; Kadambini, Ganguly and another Chandramukhi Basu were the first recipients of this honour. …

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