Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Prof. Yashpal Committee: Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education Report (2009) - Extracts related to private higher ed. providers and capitation fee

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Prof. Yashpal Committee: Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education Report (2009) - Extracts related to private higher ed. providers and capitation fee

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Yashpal Committee (Chairman Prof. Yash Pal, Report (seems to have been done sometime in 2009), Formal name of committee: “Committee to Advise on the Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education”: [Obtained from Page 2 here: on July 3rd 2014. So the report still seems to be an important one (only 14 reports are listed under MHRD committee reports)]

The report seems to be an exhaustive one and perhaps was (perhaps still is) the key report for the formation of a new National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) which would have (perhaps may still) replaced UGC & AICTE. But the bill to create NCHER got stalled in the last (UPA-II) government. Don't know exactly what the current NDA govt. thinks about it. [For Puttaparthi folks & Sathya Sai devotees, former Vice-Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Sri S.V. Giri, is one of the 24 members of the committee (no. 6 in the list on page 85).]

As of now, I focussed only on the private higher educational providers and corruption parts of the report that I could dig up quickly in my quick browse. I plan to read the whole report sometime in the future - I mean, it is the academic top-guns report on Indian academic reform.

I felt it appropriate to copy-paste one section of the report from Page 32 below (with some comments of mine):

2.3.2 Growth of private-commercial providers

The absence of any significant expansion in different sectors of higher education by the State has created a space for the growth of private providers.

However, there has been no policy or guidelines to measure the competence of private investors in starting and managing a technical institution other than the requirement that it should be registered as a non-profit or charitable trust or society.

This lacuna has been exploited by many investors, who have no understanding or experience of the responsibilities associated with institutions of higher education. The trusts or societies that have been formed largely consist of immediate family members – some of whom had little or no educational background - with some exceptions.

All investments on the institution and all appointments and service conditions and, to a considerable extent, most decisions on admission of students in the management quota have been under the control of such family trusts or societies. The principal or the other academic staff members have been mostly excluded from these processes and asked to mind only the requirements of the university in terms of syllabus and examinations.

Specific studies need to be done regarding the sources of funds utilized by such family trusts or societies as there are allegations that such funds are either unaccounted wealth from business and political enterprises (occasionally with some bank loans for purposes of legitimacy) or from the capitation fees charged from the students in addition to a plethora of unexplained fees charged whimsically by these managements.

[Ravi: Congratulations to the committee for frankly putting down the state of affairs. This is a top-shot committee engaged by HRD minister Shri Arjun Singh (in 2008) and then supported by later HRD minister Shri Kapil Sibal, and has top academic administrators in it. So its words are very weighty giving enough ground for the government/legislature to act by introducing changes in existing higher education acts or creating new acts to fix the problems. Terrific stuff from this committee! They have done a great service to the nation, IMHO, by writing the above five paragraphs in the report.]

It must be mentioned that during the past two decades there have also been many respectable institutions established by private individuals or corporations either with some funding from the government or with no public funding. However, investors and philanthropists wishing to set up

institutions of higher education with noble motives have been deterred by the unpredictable and often whimsical rules and regulations imposed on them by regulatory bodies in this sector.

[Ravi: This is the other side of the coin; Well said.]

[Ravi: Boxed comment]
In many private educational institutions, the appointment of teachers is made at the lowest possible cost. They are treated with scant dignity, thereby turning away competent persons from opting for the teaching profession. A limited number of senior positions are filled at attractive salaries, especially from other reputed institutions, mainly for prestige. Otherwise, there are many terrible instances of faculty being asked to work in more than one institution belonging to the management; their salary being paid only for nine months; actual payments being much less than the amount signed for; impounding of their certificates and passports; compelling them to award pass marks in the internal examination to the “favorites” and fail marks for students who protest illegal collections and so on.
[Ravi: Wow! Hats off! This is what one hears about some of the poorer quality colleges - this committee wrote it down in the report. OK, so now the HRD ministry has got this picture from this top-committee. It must explore legal ways by which such private educational institutions are forced to mend their ways or close down.]
[Ravi: End-boxed comment]

The solution to the unscrupulous methods of some private investors should not mean doing away with their participation in the field of higher education altogether.

In order to reach the goals of doubling the higher education capacity from the present level, it will be necessary to encourage participation of the private sector. At the same time it must be emphasized that governments cannot afford to abandon the responsibility for further augmentation of the existing capacity entirely to the private sector.

In fact we must recognize the need for different layers of institutions in the field of higher education, including state-run, private and those established through public-private partnerships. What is required in order to make all of them work efficiently and serve overall national goals is the framing of rational and consistent ground rules overseen by a transparent regulatory mechanism.

[Ravi: I think the above three paragraphs are a very balanced view and I tend to support it.]

Purely private initiatives require a credible corrective mechanism to do away with the ills associated with it currently. It would be necessary for instance that the present practice of family members who sometimes don’t have the experience or the competence relating to education occupying the controlling position of the governing systems of the private educational institutions be prevented. Similarly, the practice of conferring academic designations such as Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and Pro Vice Chancellor on members of the family has to stop.

There is a need to have a clear understanding of the difference in the roles of a promoter or philanthropist as a trustee as opposed to being an executive of the institution he or she establishes. Executives must have appropriate abilities and qualifications required for the job.

All private institutions, which seek the status of a university, will have to submit to a national accreditation system.

It is also important that private initiatives in the field of higher education are not driven by the sole motive of profit. They should not confine themselves only to ‘commercially viable’ sectors of education, such as management, accountancy and medicine etc. but should also encompass areas of social and natural sciences by establishing comprehensive universities.

Alternately, such institutions should be allowed to confer only diplomas and certificates and not university degrees. These certificates or diplomas, however, may be recognized by universities for further upgradation to degree levels through programmes of a more holistic nature.

[Ravi: Certificates & diplomas by private educational setups focusing on 'commercially viable' sectors of education being recognised by universities for further upgradation to degree levels through additional programmes seems a very viable option! Maybe certifcates from MOOCs of NPTEL/IIT-Madras could be recognised by universities similarly and they could provide a (shorter) upgrade path for a proper degree.]

All this would mean modification in the legal framework under which such entities operate to include very tight regulations on auditing their accounts, on transparency, on paying a minimum stipulated salary to qualified and competent teachers, and an insistence on a certain percentage of seats being provided full scholarships/freeships on the basis of merit. The modalities of this and of any mandatory reservations can be worked out.

--- end full section 2.3.2 Growth of private-commercial providers extract ---

Extract from section 2.3.4 Issues of affordability (Page 38 onwards) and some comments [The section has the word programmers instead of programmes - I have made the correction below] :

Many private institutions charge exorbitant fees (beyond the prescribed norms) in the form of many kinds of levy (not accounted for by vouchers and receipts) and are unable to provide even minimum competent faculty strength. The nonaffordability of the programmes of such institutions to a vast majority of eligible students is a matter of public concern.

The regulatory agencies have been unable to come to grips with the problems of capitation fee and unauthorized annual fees mainly due to deficiencies in enforcement instruments, and partly due to high-level reluctance to sort out this problem.

[Ravi: So here is the clear acknowledgement of these illegal fees and the "high-level reluctance" to fix the problem in a top-level official committee document.]

Since the norms for fixation of fees are vague, the quantum of fees charged has no rational basis. The illegal capitation fees range from: Rs. 1-10 lakh for the engineering courses; Rs. 20-40 lakh for MBBS courses; Rs. 5-12 lakh for dental courses; and about Rs. 30,000-50,000 for courses in arts and science colleges, depending on the demand.

[Ravi: Well, I think this just shows how toothless the govt. is in preventing this social menace. I mean, everybody seems to know the going rate for the illegal capitation fee - it is an open secret. I hope some new acts which give MHRD and other govt. authorities the teeth to act on such stuff gets passed, and then the govt. shows the political will to go after higher ed. institutions that charge these illegal fees. OR the govt. should make capitation fee legal. (one lakh is one hundred thousand; exchange rate for 1 US $ is approx. Rs. 60, so Rs. 10 Lakh is Rs. 1 million which is approx. US $ 16,666)]

Studies and research show that most of the private investment in higher education is in the field of engineering, management and medicine whereas the majority of enrollment is taking place in traditional disciplines. The private providers are, therefore, not putting their money in areas which attract the bulk of the students, especially first generation university goers. This remains the responsibility of the state. It is the middle class, which has for long benefited from the state education system and is now breaking away from it.

--- end extract from section 2.3.4 Issues of affordability ---

[Please note that the Creative Commons Attribution license, CC-BY, does NOT apply to this post.]

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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