A China model of higher education with higher fee structure for India is what External Affairs minister Pranab Mukerjee has suggested.
Mukerjee, in a letter to Deputy chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said, “there are lessons to be learnt from the reforms in higher education in China. We should follow their example and draw upon reform package to covert at least 10 universities into world-class institutions. The concept of trying up these universities with partner institutions in the hinterland is also interesting and worth a try”. His letter is likely to be discussed at the full Planning Commission meeting on Thursday.
Making a strong case for partnership with foreign universities, the external affairs minister, said, “Partnerships with universities abroad, tried out by China, indeed deserves our attention”. However, the Left parties have opposed any entry of foreign education providers into India, thereby stalling the introduction of the Foreign Education Providers entry Bill in the recently concluded Parliament session, over two months after approved by the Cabinet. <b1>
But, Mukerjee wants a re-look at the bill to allow dual degrees and branch campuses of foreign universities in India. “I think the time has come to experiment with various forms of cooperation with foreign universities including branch campuses and running training programmes leading to dual degrees,” he said, in the letter.
Another move, which may upset his friends in Left parties, is the suggestion to raise the fees for higher education. “We should move away from under charging of fees especially when a large number of students in the higher education can afford to pay the fees,” he said. For the increased resources, the government can have liberal scholarship or subsidised loan scheme, he added.
The minister also advocates more private participation in higher education as suggested by Planning Commission but opposed by the HRD ministry. He also recommends reforms in apex institutions like UGC, AICTE and MCI to bring in standards and norms for quality higher education.