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Not a learning experience

Indian students spend Rs 50,000 crore studying abroad every year. This is enough to build 20 IITs or 50 IIMs per year.

india Updated: May 24, 2007 02:32 IST

European Commissioner for Education Jan Figel’s warning that Indian universities, along with Chinese and Japanese ones, are well on their way to take a sizeable chunk of higher education business away from European universities is surprising. The IITs and IIMs are the only two institutes of higher learning that have featured in any top university ranking, among others the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) and the European Commission’s list of 100. In fact, in the THES 2006, the IIT slipped by seven positions. But other nations in South-east Asia, notably China and Japan, are certainly developing quality higher education opportunities for overseas students. The THES 2006 saw the entry of 11 Japanese universities for the first time, a record entry. And as Mr Figel put it, “China itself decided it wants several top universities by 2015.” That is where the crunch lies. On one hand, we celebrate that the IITs are part of world rankings. At the same time, the government wants the institution to simplify its entrance exams, hike reservations and standardise its curriculum. There has been no movement so far to ensure that more institutes of the same standard are developed.

With many more aspiring for higher educational qualifications, India is hard pressed to meet the demands of its own students. Time and again it has been recorded that of the 2.5 million graduates India produces annually, 5 per cent are employable, 20 per cent trainable and recruitable and 80 per cent not fit for even training. Indian students spend Rs 50,000 crore studying abroad every year. This is enough to build 20 IITs or 50 IIMs per year. Is anyone listening? No. India may have allowed 100 per cent FDI in 2001, but the absurdly tough entry regulations have prevented top universities from opening campuses here.

Shoddy policy, poor regulation, resource crunch, lack of innovation, lack of faculty, outdated curricula and political interference have made higher education a nightmare. To that end, Mr Figel’s fears about India are unfounded. China and Japan are a different story altogether. Notably, India is least concerned about the benefits of its language advantage, something that China has tackled with such determination.