The private sector’s participation in higher education alone can help India achieve its goal of 30 per cent college enrolment rates by 2020, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said on Friday.
Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit, Sibal said India needed to send a critical mass of youth into higher education if it wanted to evolve from a developing to a first-world country.
Sibal’s views on the need for private sector participation in higher education was independently endorsed by Dipak Jain, former dean of the Kellogg School of Management and the dean-designate of Europe’s famed B-school INSEAD. Chad Edelstein, CEO of the Apollo Group of educational institutions, was the third speaker at the session on whether India can achieve both its quality and quantity goals in education.
“We are seeing the rusting of the West and the shine of the East in the sense that the West has human resources but no jobs and India has jobs but no trained human resources. Our first task as a nation needs to be to send a critical mass of students to college,” Sibal said. Of the 220 million students who go to school, only 30 million go to college at present. Jain cited American higher education to argue that top private educational institutions — like a Harvard — need not work for profit.
Greater partnerships — like the collaboration between Kellogg and Wharton on the Indian School of Business — foreign direct investment in higher education and setting up knowledge cities were other possibilities that needed to be explored to hike enrolment, Jain argued.
Edelstein argued that multiple definitions of quality must be allowed to coexist. “Different institutions can define quality differently. A robust and successful education system must encourage and allow that,” he said.