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

Recent articles in The Hindu arguing for and against privatisation of (professional) higher education (in India)

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Recent articles in The Hindu arguing for and against privatisation of (professional) higher education (in India)

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Last updated on 25th May 2014

Here's a very controversial article dated May 7th 2014, titled, "Privatising professional education". One look at the comments section shows how much negative response this article has generated.

One comment of a Jaideep got 57 Up votes (and 6 Down votes). The 55 up votes are by far and away the highest in the article comments so far. One of the sentences in the short 3-sentence comment is: "The education loan payback makes life tough even for students from IIT & IIm, so Mr. Hegde suggesting this as an option only shows his lack of understanding on the matter".

I think the 57 up votes on this comment is an indicator of education loan payback, especially for private professional education, being a major issue among students & parents.

I added the following comment which appears on the article web page under the name 'Ravi Ravi':

Interesting and informative article, especially the 2002 TMA Pai Foundation supreme court case judgement extract noting that it is "well established all over the world that those who seek professional education must pay for it", and seeming to not take objection to private professional education institutions taking donations and/or high fees. And that subsequent court benches struggled to reconcile with this part of the judgement.

I entirely disagree with the author's view about Mr. Nilekani's entry into politics. I think Mr. Nilekani entering politics and hopefully getting into a position whereby he can influence government policy from the ministerial/parliamentary side on IT related areas should be welcomed. He has already done a stellar job with the Aadhaar project whose IT achievements have been fantastic, even if it getting translated into e-governance benefits, especially in the area of preventing leakages in subsidy delivery to citizens, seems to have run into some issues.

--- end comment ---

Interestingly a few days later, on May 10th 2014, The Hindu had an article making "The case against privatisation of education". This comes across, at least partly, as a response to the previous (above mentioned) controversial article on privatising professional education.

I added the following long-comment on Google+:

With all due respect to the author, I would argue that the purpose of higher education is first and foremost education i.e. teaching of knowledge. Creation of knowledge should come next on the agenda. If the author is interested only in creation of knowledge, exclusive research-only institutions may suit that need.

There certainly should be some regulation of private higher education by government or government appointed agencies. However, there should be transparency and probity in such regulation without the regulators becoming a top level source of corruption and unethical practices which corrupts the entire higher education sector regulated by them. The author's argument for drastically reforming higher education regulatory bodies instead of dismantling them is a good one. Over-regulated but under-governed is an excellent pithy description of the current state of Indian higher education.

I entirely agree with the author that as a democracy, we should actually be rejoicing that public life is now attracting individuals from a more diverse educational gene pool like doctors and engineers (irrespective of whether they have been trained mainly on taxpayer's money or on their own (family) money).

The author does not mention the main issue of the government simply not having the money to open enough public sector higher education institutions to satisfy the needs of the youth of our one and a quarter billion strong country. Therefore there is no choice but to allow private sector to step in to satisfy the need but within the overall control and transparent regulation of top. govt higher education regulatory bodies.

---end comment ---

I added a shorter comment fitting the comment-size on The Hindu article web page, which appears under the name Ravi Ravi. [BTW I wrote to vuukle support about my name not being shown correctly in the comments (vuukle plug-in/software manages the comments on The Hindu article web pages - a recent change). I was pleased to receive a prompt response from its CEO stating that profile editing features are expected to be available in 7 to 10 days. He also invited further suggestions from me.]


What a royal mess has been created with MHRD, UGC and AICTE trying to act tough with deemed universities (e.g. Tandon committee's arbitrary decree (firman) of removal of deemed university status from 44 deemed universities)! The deemed universities went to court (Supreme Court and High Court(s)) with the result that the court judgements seem to have made all these attempts of MHRD, UGC & AICTE completely ineffective.

This article in The Hindu dated May 23rd 2014, UGC regulation on deemed varsities unconstitutional: High Court,, takes the cake, IMHO. Some notes and comments:

"The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday declared as “unconstitutional and invalid” the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 pertaining to governance system, admission and fee structure and opening of campuses of deemed-to-be universities in the country. The High Court also quashed the circular issued by the UGC in 2010-11 asking all existing deemed-to-be universities to comply with the new regulation."

[Ravi: The regulation seems to be this one (64 page document):, whose link is provided in the main UGC page on deemed universities here: 3. The Gazette of India Notification reg.: UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation, 2010 - English Version).

The Karnataka HC, as per my understanding, has just thrown away the above regulations and made it irrelevant! What a huge embarrassment to MHRD and UGC (and AICTE perhaps)! What a victory to the deemed universities!]

The petition was filed by some universities like Manipal and their contention was that the UGC regulations interfered with their rights as private unaided educational institutions and that such interference violated Supreme Court rulings.

Specifically the high court ruled that UGC or the union government cannot interfere in the admission process and fee structure fixation of these private unaided educational institutions.

[Ravi: Admission process and fee structure - those are the vital things. Looks like previous Supreme Court verdicts may have gone in favour of private unaided educational institutions having a lot of freedom in admission and fee structure, as public money is not involved. The HC would have to go in line with previous Supreme Court verdicts unless there is a really strong case to challenge the previous verdicts.]

--- end notes and comments ---

Ravi: I think that is why the Higher Education And Research Bill 2011 was critical to MHRD, UGC & AICTE plans. From, "The Bill seeks to establish the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), a General Council and a Collegium of Scholars.  It repeals the UGC Act, 1956, the AICTE Act, 1987, and the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993."

Ravi: That seems to mean that this bill, once it becomes law, will decide the new rules of the game. And then the Courts will follow the new law. But I think this bill only got introduced in the Rajya Sabha and did not proceed further (i.e. did not get passed in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) - the above link also seems to indicate that. So this bill is not an act i.e. not law yet. Don't know what the new Modi sarkar (government) will do with it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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