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Higher Education sector in India – Autonomy?

I have written a lot on education sector in India and its available options; need for reforms in the sector; locally meeting its requirements and the ‘available’ business opportunity to bring about a change. If we try to identify two major factors affecting the growth of Indian Economy – they are: country’s inept ‘higher education’ standards and lack of population control. There is a lack of overall market development in India leading to lopsided growth of cities/ towns (causing too much migration into Mumbai for jobs!).

In United States, as well as in Europe – education is considered to be a core business opportunity and their students, considered to be valued customers enabling growth of their universities. Here, I am not referring to private universities alone; even, the US State Universities are market-oriented. The campus of such autonomous universities are really huge, equipped with all essential facilities :huge sports playground/ stadiums, restaurants, theatre, Libraries, University church, indoor sports, student residences, on campus jobs to support student livelihood expenses,and you name it!

About 2 years back, I have visited an autonomous private university, SRM University, at kattankulathur, kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu State – located in the outskirts of Chennai city. SRM University is one of the top ranking universities in India with over 20,000 students and 1,500 faculty, offering a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs in Engineering, Management, Medicine and Health sciences, and Science and Humanities. I walked around the huge campus: walking and cycling are the most popular ways to get around the SRM campus! And with state-of-the-art security and 24 hour emergency services, it’s the safest place to be.The SRM group runs a fleet of buses for transporting students to and from the city and to other areas. SRM University is a leading example in India – about how to run a ‘Made in India’ world-class institution.

When I was a graduate student, nearly 25 years back, I could think of only Medicine as an option for higher studies. Engineering did not interest me, as I was not good in Math. But, there is not much difference from then and now; the fundamental problem in Indian education sector is lack of choice in higher education! Though, IITs have declared their interest to include medicine and other inter disciplinary courses; our education sector lacks in infrastructure to develop professionals in varied fields of interest. A progressive society needs professionals of varied talent to ensure its all round development! High-skilled talent can enable growth of the economy sooner; but, if there are only few disciplines available, it saturates the job opportunities easily, leading to youth unemployment. It is not a true and justified case: when we declare ‘there is too much competition here in India’ and the opportunities are more in the western world! It is we who are responsible to have created such a situation in India!!

To remedy the situation, we have to develop a conducive environment for higher education and in the present situation, that can be done by private sector alone. We have started with ‘private’ international schools and there are talks to bring FDI investments in higher education sector in India. It is unfortunate, our political system/ central or state government is inept to build large universities of their own. But, something is better than nothing at all. These foreign universities, who are ready to come and establish themselves in India; will bring requisite know-how to successfully run a large university and will help create high-skilled talent in various fields.

Otherwise, there is an another option or a possibility: create ‘private sector’ autonomous education zones/ townships along the lines of Oxford and University of Cambridge in or near major metro cities! Hopefully, this will discourage our deserving students to go abroad and settle down in US on completing their higher education there.( Note: 80% of our ‘passed out’ students from IITs migrate to the developed world to pursue higher education and settle down there! It’s a such a waste of Indian taxpayer money used to create ‘state of the art’ IITs – that serve only as export zones losing skilled talent to the western world).

Yes, we have to reverse the brain drain.


About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.


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