Quality education is the key to inclusive growth and empowerment of a large section of the population,” emphasised Mr Dhanpat Singh, Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Technical Education, Govt of Haryana. He was speaking at the EduSummit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Govt of Haryana at its Headquarters in Chandigarh on Saturday.
With the theme as ‘Taking Higher Education to the next orbit – Agenda for Reforms in the North’, CII’s EduSummit brought together academicians, corporates, financers, educational consultants and students to deliberate and debate on how higher education can be made more affordable, accessible, relevant to industry needs and job-oriented. The socio economic balance to improve human lives can only be achieved through sustainable education.
Mr Singh further felt that “We have to search for alternatives to socialism for creating a more equitable society. A balance between profits and welfare needs to be struck to attract corporates in Education sector. Sustainability should be given due importance, he iterated.”
“The Haryana government is very committed to spread technical education in far-flung areas of the state, benefiting thousands of students”, he added.
Mr Singh also released the CII – Wazir Knowledge Paper on “Taking Higher Education in Northern Region to the next Orbit”.
Mr Arun Grover, Vice Chancellor, Panjab University, lamented that serious steps are required to raise India’s very low Gross Enrolment Ratio ( GER) of 20 % GER is 84 % in US, 59 % in UK, 55 % in Japan and 28 % in China. Further the Higher Education spending in India which is just 1.1 % as compared to 3.1 % in US, also need to be raised. He called for higher education institutions’ collaboration with the Private sector in research, faculty development, infrastructure creation, student scholarships and governance.
“To achieve this, the higher education system should be made robust and useful to attract investments and the Govt should aggressively engage with the industry to invest in existing institutes, setting up new institutes and develop new knowledge clusters”, opined Mr Grover.
The VC also shared the recommendations of the Report prepared by the NR Narayana Murthy Committee on Corporate Participation in Higher Education. He highlighted that the report calls for upgrading 75 ‘top of the class’ universities and higher education institutions including Institutions of National Importance ( INIs), central universities, deemed universities, state universities and established private universities, by setting up schools and Centers of excellence( CoEs) and training and learning centers at a typical cost of Rs 175 – 200 crores per institution, create 20 ‘world class’ universities and higher education institutions by private sector or Public – Private partnership investments via universities of innovation at a typical investment of Rs 500 crore per institution, develop 20 new national knowledge clusters. We also need to mobilize 5500 faculty members and improve the quality of PhDs. To deliver all this, a total investment of Rs 40,000 crore will be requires over the period of 12th five year plan( 2012 – 17) which is only possible by pooling resources from both Govt and the Corporate sector”, Mr Grover added.
Ms Kamna Raj Agarwala, Co-Chairperson, CII NR Special Task Force on Skills & Education, shared that “India has to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend and become the workforce suppliers of the world.
“I believe the biggest constraint to India in meeting its growth percent is availability of skilled human resources. We have ample amount of human resources available, but a fair number of them need to be trained and groomed to attain and meet the requirements of the job. As of 2011, there are 1,522 degree-granting engineering colleges in India with an annual student intake of 582,000, plus 1,244 polytechnics with an annual intake of 265,000. However, these institutions face shortage of faculty and concerns have been raised over the quality of education.” she added.
Mr Harminder Sahni, Managing Director, Wazir Advisors, stressed that “India was one of the fastest growing education hubs in the world, and the attractiveness of the academic field as a source of employment was returning after a lull of about 30 years. He further viewed that North was far ahead of other regions of the country in terms of education expansion. He elaborated on how the gap between planning and implementation in India was narrowing since liberalisation in 1991. “We need to now see whether India can once again attract students from all over the world the way it once did, he remarked.”
Mr Manmohan Singh, Vice-Chairman, CII Chandigarh State Council, felt that the nation has to move beyond providing literacy towards providing knowledge and empowerment to its citizens.
“Education in India has primarily been driven by government initiatives and funding until recently. In the past decade, several private players have forayed into the growing opportunity presented by the sector. Parallel to private initiatives, government spending and focus has also stepped up to raise the level of Indian education sector and encourage more private participation,” he added.
There were intense discussions in various panel discussions on reforms in the education sector, private funding in higher education, how to make India a global education hub, and the need for industry-university collaboration.