With the Budget scheduled for February 1, all stakeholders in the education sector are pinpointing to research and infrastructure as two key areas of focus for the government.
Referring to last year’s announcement by finance minister Arun Jaitley to make 10 public and 10 private educational institutions of world-class standards, academic experts urge the government to first improve the infrastructure of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Indian Institutes of Technology. Many of these premium institutes, especially the new ones, face numerous problems in terms of infrastructure, with some not even having their own hostels and campuses.
A senior faculty member of IIM Rohtak who does not want his name mentioned says “The HRD Minister has clarified in different forums to make the IITs and IIMs excellent institutions at par with global standards. In order to make it happen, these institutions need to exhibit brilliance both on teaching and research fronts. These two prime activities require different types of infrastructure. When it comes to teaching, both the physical and digital infrastructure play an equally important role.On the research front, availability of databases, journals, books, software, and institutional support in terms of encouraging field visits and collaborating with foreign researchers and universities can make a difference,” he says.
Many higher education institutions, including the newly opened IITs and IIMs, have infrastructural problems, including not having their own campuses. A careful review of this aspect in the upcoming budget can make a big difference in gradually improving India’s position in higher education on the global map, he says,
Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis Society, wants “extensive funds” to be allocated for research in universities in India. “We are lagging behind in world rankings of universities because of the poor research output. If India claims that it will be a knowledge economy then generation of new knowledge through research in Universities should be of paramount importance. Funding should be given to both public and private universities depending on their quality of research”, she says.
Given the fact that the education sector plays a pivotal role in the economic and social development of India, Prof Dr Uday Salunkhe, group director of the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research , feels the need for greater impetus on education and skill development initiatives.
He stresses on the need for measures to encourage academic research and involve participation of private institutions to advance the (education) sector. The right move in this direction involves curriculum reforms to help improve and enhance learning outcomes.
Welcoming the government’s thrust on the Skill India initiative and the intent to make India the workforce supplier of the world, Salunkhe stressed on the need to provide micro-finance facilities and easy availability of loans to students, especially to those showing a good academic track record. “Also, lowering the interest rates for education loans will immensely help to make this initiative more inclusive,” he added.