Changing Dimensions in Higher Education – An Issue In Context with Changing Environment (Towards Knowledge-Based Economy: Lessons for India) | Original Article
India has a huge population of uneducated children and the Constitution provides for free and compulsory education up to the age of 14. The country also has the dubious distinction of one of the highest levels of illiteracy in the world. The system of public education at all levels is in advanced stage of disrepair and disarray. Clearly, governments both at the Center and in the States need to allocate far more resources and attention on ensuring that future generations are equipped sufficiently to operate in a knowledge economy. As one is seeking to provide quality education, the process of accreditation as it exists in the country is assessed. Some indications of the level of public spending on higher education are also provided. Education is a trillion Dollar industry worldwide. Education industry groups are, therefore, attracted by the prospects of liberalization and globalization of this industry. They seek more international deregulation and generally support WTO efforts. As demands for higher education grow the world over, the governments are also finding it difficult to provide adequate budgetary allocation. For a public service such as education GATS at Doha was a stepping stone so that there is no discrimination against foreign corporations entering the service market. Further, after the fizzling of the dot.com bubble, corporations are looking forward to other service sectors for investments, education being one of them. Higher Education provisioning is now globalised and in many ways, a commercialized affair and the way that the State had in the goings on is vastly diminished. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the growth is now soaring: 2 million universities studentsapproaching 2% of the world's total of around 100 million studying outside their home country in 2013. Since the late 1990s the higher education market is growing by 7 per cent a year. The Economist Survey on higher education further indicates that annual fee income alone is estimated at $ 30 billion. While private profit seeking companies have entered the education business, even government-controlled universities are seeking independence from governmental authority. In this paper, some indications of the level of public spending on higher education are also provided. A case is also made to highlight the need for promoting a knowledgebased economy. International experiences in managing the money that is engaged in funding higher education have been studied to derive lessons for India as a major constraint to private sector provisioning of higher education is the availability of adequate funds.