India will be one of the youngest nations in the world with almost 140 million individuals in their 20s by the year 2030. India, thus, has the potential to have one in every four graduates of the world to be a product of Indian higher education system. Education is an essential tool for achieving development and sustainability. In this context the quality of higher education becomes increasingly important as India strives to compete and integrate with globalised economy where highly qualified, innovative and creative professionals are required.
Our higher education systembe it government universities or the private universities or self-financed institutions- operates in a pincerlike-grip of regulations. Only the IIMs and IITs, both outside the traditional Indian university system, have the autonomy and flexibility of various decision-making and both set of institutions have done India proud.
Many of the higher educational institutions in India have dropped abysmally low in quality delivery in the last few decades. For, they have become rule fulfillers and not deliverers of quality education. This typically is the outcome in an organization where the decision makers are not accountable for poor performance. Most of the universities neither get sufficient fund from the government, nor can raise funds to meet their development and research needs. Thus, the ability of most of the Indian universities and Institutes of higher learning in India is unfavorably blunted due to extremely limited flexibility in their decision making process due to various governance issues. This creates a wide gap in what is the desirable outcome and what is actually delivered by these universities and institutes of higher learning in India.
To meet the huge unmet demand for joboriented education and training the government must ‘free-up’ the government universities and institutions and encourage, through appropriate policy interventions, private sector to actively contribute to the higher education. However, instead of encouraging the role of private sector in higher education, the public policy so far seems to be quite unfriendly and discouraging to the private sector with conflicting signals coming from various higher education regulating bodies of the government.
If we talk about management education, one must note that there exist many renowned high-quality private management institutions in India providing world class education. These private institutions are committed to educational excellence and are conscious of their responsibilities. They have quality infrastructure, admirable course curriculum and faculty, affordable fee structure and location, and above all remarkable placements.
Management education in India has traversed a long distance over the years and has established itself as a powerful force capable of bringing about the manufacturing revolution in India. It provides the foundation to young managers to be a part of the desired paradigm shift in the Indian growth trajectory.
Due to the vast customer base, businesses across the globe are eying the Indian markets and are keen to start their operations in India. Also, a large number of business initiatives have been launched by the Government of India (GOI) recently in its endeavor to not only make India a manufacturing hub but also to make her economic growth more inclusive. These forces have increased the demand for professional managers many folds, making management education more important than ever.
It is, thus, essential for all concerned policy makers, educational planners, administrators and regulators of our higher education system to revive the very thinking of parity in rules and regulations governing the public (government) and the private sector operated higher educational institutions in India. A common corporate law in India governing public and private business enterprises is a good example to cite. Such major reform in higher education in India might just prove to be more productive than an open invitation to foreign universities to set up campuses in India-independently or jointly with local institutions.
It is time to have a coherent policy framework that acknowledges the complementarities of public and private sector to contribute to the higher education system and ensures its sustainable development.
The writer is the Director of FORE School of Management, New Delhi