V Raghunathan is a former professor of finance, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. His views on private engineering colleges expressed recently to a large business magazine are worth a national debate.
On the rapid growth in number of private colleges
Private engineering colleges have mushroomed because they have been allowed to mushroom. Most such institutions are in fact real-estate rackets in the guise of educational institutions. A large majority of them are controlled by politicians and builders. As a consequence, the honest and not so honest colleges come to be bracketed in the same silo.
Private engineering colleges (at least the honest ones) are complaining because the fee in most states at about Rs.30000 to 35000 per annum is absurdly low.
On The way out:
Institutions like the AICTE and UGC must have eminent public figures from all walks of life on governing bodies. There could even be an academic Ombudsman to whom Institutions that feel they have been wronged, can appeal.
Some of V Raghunathan's Quotable Quotes--
- We Gave ZERO to the world. Thereafter, we have given ZERO to the world.
- Democracy cannot be the excuse for all our failures.
- A glorious past is not a consolation for a sorry present.
- How come it is always the other drivers who are the cause of our traffic mess?
Much that may or may not happen in the engineering education space will depend on how the Foreign Institutions Bill fares. I see obstacles on the way, even though the Bill itself is well meaning.
For example, if we insist on severe restrictions on fees and call for caste based reservations (beyond affirmative action), that is bound to be a dampener for the foreign institutions entering India. On the other hand if we don't, the Indian Institutions are bound to have serious heart burn, especially when their performance is typically bound to be compared against their foreign counterparts with much better terms of independence. How we will get past this dichotomy is difficult.
Perhaps the government will have to move away from its absurd fee policy in Indian universities and other institutions. The way to quality education is to allow the fees to more realistic, but ensuring that banks do provide mandated loans to students.
For example, today the University system is allowed to charge absurdly low levels of fees (often of the order of Rs 2000 to Rs. 3000 per annum!). At the same time, the public sector banks are mandated to lend up to Rs. 4.5 lakh per annum for higher education.
So why the Universities can't be allowed to charge more realistic fees and let the economically weaker students to borrow for their education? This will also unburden the educational system from paucity of funds. Whatever the mechanism, it is clear serious overhaul of our educational system is called for if we want our so-called demographic dividend cheque to be honored!!
So FaaDoOs, what do you think about Mr Raghunathan's views, do let us know...