Central universities must emerge as role models for all the varsities in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday, expressing concern over India's higher education continuing to lag behind global standards despite unprecedented public spending since 2004.
While the spending has helped expand access - increasing the country's gross enrolment rate in higher education from under 10% a decade ago to 19%, it hasn't helped institutions climb up the quality ladder.
"It is a sobering thought for us that not one Indian university figures in the top 200 universities of the world today," Singh said, referring to the QS and Times Higher Education rankings that have, over the past two years, shown that even top Indian institutions - including the Indian Institutes of Technology -are sliding in global ratings.Improving quality and fostering excellence in higher education would be the ruling UPA alliance's focus under the 12th Five Year Plan that has just commenced, Singh said, speaking to Vice Chancellors of 40 central universities at a meet called by President Pranab Mukherjee."We must recognise that too many of them (universities) are not up to the mark," Singh said.
"Too many of them have simply not kept abreast with the rapid changes that have taken place in the world around us in recent years, still producing graduates in subjects that the job market no longer requires."
Mukherjee raised concerns about faculty shortage and young talent leaving for greener pastures abroad, and argued that the private sector must be encouraged to invest in the sector without compromising on quality or social objectives.
Mandatory accreditation would help ensure quality benchmarks, Humar Resource Development (HRD) minister MM Pallam Raju said.