“Private Investment in Higher Education must be increased to achieve a 5 Trillion USD Economy”: Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University

Mumbai: India will significantly lag behind other nations like China and South Korea if financial investment in higher education is not increased substantially. The private sector has a parallel responsibility alongside the Indian government to transform the Indian education sector. Philanthropic entrepreneurship must create equitable access to education for social and economic growth.

“Two decades ago, India and Chinese educational institutions were at par when compared to their western counterparts,” said Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, Prof. C. Raj Kumar in Mumbai today. “Today China is one of the leading education miracles and has several universities featuring in world rankings. This has been achieved through sound policies, consistent financial commitment and international partnerships and they have made China a world reckoner in higher education,” he said.

To match international standards and global competition, we need to make our universities the drivers of innovation, economic growth and entrepreneurship. Prof. Raj Kumar outlined a 10-point ambitious growth and reform plan for the Indian Universities at an event in Mumbai today. He observed that this plan will enable Indian universities to achieve excellence and also move up in global rankings. Indian universities need to reimagine their vision and mission to align themselves with the goals of nation building with a stronger focus on social and economic development of the country.

Policy making is an essential part of social governance but translating policy into economic growth needs implementation at the ground level. The National Education Policy 2019 is a detailed road map for the future of education in India and outlines implementation models at the government level. However, public investment alone cannot bring about the change required in India.

Sudarshan Ramaswamy, Dean, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy said, “The New Education Policy has been drafted by eminent persons, including Dr Kasturirangan and a Fields Medal winning mathematician, Manjul Bhargava. However, merely because the policy is drafted by intelligent people will not automatically make it a good policy. A policy can be judged to be good only when its main purpose and its goals – reorganise higher education institutions into large, multidisciplinary universities, phase out the system of affiliated colleges, tenure-track for teachers, autonomy and deregulation are actually realised. Policy comprises not only why and what is to be done, but also how. A great deal depends on procedures and processes, which are always fraught with the risk of bureaucratic derailment.”

The demographic dividend we have will positively impact our economy and the society, only if we have quality education that will produce research, solve problems and lead to sustainable job opportunities.

“Expanding the Indian economy to $5 Trillion would mean going past France, UK, Germany and Japan. These nations have world-class universities. The explosive growth of the Chinese higher education sector has helped lift millions out of poverty and transformed the country forever. Ensuring quality, higher education is the most important thing India can do to fulfil the promise of its future generations., said Dr Ashish Bharadwaj who is the Dean of the Jindal School of Banking and Finance. “The budgetary allocation towards higher education of Rs 38,317 crore is not sufficient to fulfil the dreams of more than 600 million young people in India who are less than 24 years of age. With 78% of our 900 universities and 39,000 colleges privately managed, private investment in higher education is a chief agent of socio-economic change in India. The private sector, along with the State, will play a pivotal role in providing world-class education as well as creating jobs to absorb several million youths that enter the labour force every year,” he said.

It has been lamented in recent years that not a single university from India is among the top 100 universities of the world, while there are several universities from Asia – China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taipei besides from the USA, UK, Europe, Australia, Europe among the top 100 in the world.

“Global rankings have emerged as a dominant way of measuring performance. There is today a serious aspiration underlining the need for Indian universities to be in the top 200 universities of the world and the urgency of seeking reforms that will pave the way for promoting excellence in higher education and research. It is important that Indian universities embrace the international rankings framework as well as international accreditation processes, which will benchmark Indian universities with the world class universities in many countries,” said, Prof Raj Kumar.

Speaking about the importance of global rankings of universities, Prof Kumar observed, “Today, the Times Higher Education World Universities Rankings, QS World University Rankings, and the Shanghai Jiatong Academic Rankings of World Universities have become part of the institutional aspirations for many universities and higher education institutions in India. The challenges related to higher education in India deserve urgent attention and require determined responses.”

Attention must be paid to the performance of Indian universities in the global rankings and take note of the criteria required to succeed in world ranking, especially the importance of research and publications. Other factors that influence ranking include academic innovation, intellectual freedom to build global partnerships, and research excellence. In addition, internationalisation is an important criterion for breaking into the global rankings. This includes measures on the number and influence of international students, international faculty, global engagements and partnerships on research, teaching, and faculty and student exchange. The global ranking frameworks have increasingly become an indicator of the institutional quality of higher education institutions and are a powerful measure of real-world impact of universities and their role as knowledge creators.