The government is all set to introduce 27 per cent reservations for OBCs in institutes of higher education but universities are not yet equipped to provide quality education.
According to University Grants Commission chairperson Professor SK Thorat, funds are needed to improve such institutes. While presenting a paper on higher education at the Mumbai University, Thorat said only eight per cent of Indian universities make the top grade. In an assessment of 2,780 colleges, out of 17,625 colleges by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), 66 per cent colleges were found to be medium or below par.
However, he pointed out that the UGC’s knowledge of quality of education in colleges was limited. Only 18 per cent colleges fall directly under the purview of the commission.
UGC’s sample study of 111 universities of 317 for assessment of quality found that only 31 per cent could be rated in the A grade, while 52 per cent fell in the B grade.
The UGC has recognised nine universities and 97 colleges as “institutions with potential for excellence” and has allocated funds to improve their infrastructure. Covering all institutes will require huge inputs, Thorat claimed.
This comes in the wake of the Planning Commission's announcement that higher education, barring expansion for implementing 27 per cent OBC reservation, may not get enough funds in the 11th five-year plan.
However, both the Planning Commission and the UGC agree that enrolment has to be increased in the next five years to 20 per cent from nine per cent in 2005 by capacity-building in private and public educational institutions.
The paper also highlights the poor representation of SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims and girls in higher education and calls for more inclusive approach in the next five years. Thorat said enrolment figures for STs was five per cent, SCs 7.51 per cent, OBCs 11.34 per cent, Muslims 8.19 per cent and girl child 11.02 per cent.