Emerging Issue in Educational Sector


Deepika R
S Revathy Chandra
I Year MBA (Batch 2007-09)
R.L. Institute of Management Studies
Madurai-625 022


India has been a major seat of learning for thousands of years. While some of the country's universities (BITS, IITs, NITs, IISc, TIFR, ISI, IIMs and AIIMS) are among the world's well-renowned, it is also dealing with challenges in its primary education and strives to reach 100% literacy. Universal Compulsory Primary Education, with its challenges of keeping poor children in school and maintaining quality of education in rural areas, has been difficult to achieve (Kerala is the only Indian state to reach this goal so far). All levels of education, from primary to higher education, are overseen by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Department of Higher Education (India) and Department of School Education and Literacy), and heavily subsidized by the Indian government, though there is a move to make higher education partially self-financing. Indian Government is considering to allow 100% foreign direct investment in Higher Education.

There are broadly four stages of school education in India, namely primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary (or high school).  The government is committed to ensuring universal elementary education (primary and upper primary) education for all children aged 6-14 years of age. Primary school includes children of ages six to eleven, organized into classes one through five. Upper Primary and Secondary school pupils aged eleven through fifteen are organized into classes six through ten, and higher secondary school students ages sixteen through seventeen are enrolled in classes eleven through twelve. In some places there is a concept called Middle/Upper Primary schools for students who belong to six to eight standard and classes nine to twelve are classified under high school category. Higher Education in India provides an opportunity to specialize in a field and includes technical schools (such as the Indian Institutes of Technology), colleges, and universities.


India has to open the education sector as part of its international commitment on the General agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Indian government is now contemplating on the idea of allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in education sector of India. Indian government has been carrying out a lot of reform activities for the economy to attract more FDI in the country. So, why not have FDI in education too?


* There are limited seats in Indian colleges and universities. So, allowing FDI would increase more opportunities to study for Indian students.
* Many students are going abroad to pursue higher education. If foreign universities come to India, then some of these students will surely stay in India and study here.
* Indian economy is incurring an expense of more than $4 billion every year because of the fact that thousands of Indian students are going to America and Europe for higher education.
* FDI in education sector will attract some of the best universities in the world and open their branches.
* It will also ensure world class research facilities for Indian students.
* It will also increase the possibility of Indian students to get jobs in multinational companies.
* India needs many skilled workers within a short time. Foreign universities can contribute a lot in this regard.
* If foreign schools and universities open their branches in India then many students from neighboring countries will come to study in those universities in India and India will turn into a regional hub on education.
* Indian students will come into contact with some of the top professors of the world.
* Indian students will be able to have world class labs and libraries.

Of course, Indian government should set up a regulatory body to oversee the foreign educational institutes. Indian government must not allow those foreign institutes who would want to come here only to earn money from Indian students.


* It will hurt the nation's culture and character
* The syllabi would not reflect Indian culture and ideas, merely an alien one.
* The institutions would be coming to India simply to make money, not work in the interest of the Indian nation.


* Foreign universities outside India play a large role in the Indian higher education scene.
* With over 200 Fortune 500 companies recruiting from Indian campuses regularly, the government now plans to establish India as a brand in the higher education sector and grab the attention of global education community.
* They attract many thousands of Indian students to their campuses each year 80,466 Indians enrolled in U.S. institutions alone in 2004-05 and at least eight other countries actively recruit Indian students.
* Graduates of accredited foreign institutions play important roles in the development of India upon their return home.
* Imagine what greater opportunities would be available to Indian students if accredited foreign institutions offered degree program in India to expand access to higher education to Indian students!
* The Indian student population is growing at a fast pace, and Indian institutions strapped for funds will be hard-pressed to create seats to accommodate the demand.

The five most important issues facing higher education in India

The five most important issues facing higher education in India have been identified as access and equity;

* Relevance
* quality and excellence;
* governance and management
* funding

According to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, 172nd Report on University and Higher Education submitted on May 22, 2006. Entry of accredited U.S. educational institutions has the potential to partially respond to all of these needs.


* Foreign Institutions can create duality of quality, standards and access.
* There may be the rise of inefficient and languishing public sector and a dominant private sector
* The presence of foreign providers signal to government that they can decrease public funding for higher education, thereby jeopardizing domestic publicly funded institutions 
* Commercial presence may entail welfare distortions. Usually foreign institutions tend to give better and more attractive packages to their staff. This allows them to employ the best leaving the others to share the rest. Consequences may be the creation of wage havens employing and retaining a very happy few while at the same time creating conditions for internal brain drain
* Possibility of stopping outflow of students
* Study programmes will be cheaper in relation to foreign degrees earned abroad.
* Diversification of study programmes. Of course this diversification is a very limited one.
* Process of integration of an international dimension into the teaching/service/research functions, competitiveness will be promoted and it has its implications on the foreign exchange as well.


Though penetration of foreign universities in India has many constraints, the prospects stands up making constraints neutral. Hence in our view the penetration of foreign universities is must into India.

Deepika R
S Revathy Chandra
I Year MBA (Batch 2007-09)
R.L. Institute of Management Studies
Madurai-625 022

Source: E-mail January 2, 2008




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