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‘Indians spend $6-7 billion in foreign varsities annually’

Education Newsand the country’s premier research institutes failing to make to the top 100 global list is forcing Indian students embrace foreign universities. An archival stranglehold over policy stifling any possible innovation is also seen as one of the reasons.

A study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and industry body Assocham points out that a whopping $ 6-7 billion, about Rs 45,000 core is being spent by Indian students going to foreign universities and “only a miniscule number of them choose to return home,” the study says.

Titled ‘Realigning Skilling towards Make in India’, the study reads: “It is not just the elite who spend generously on a good education and credentials but the middle class families also spend their life time savings to educating their children abroad.”

“While the much touted IITs have an annual enrolment of 10,000-15,000, focused only the brightest of the bright, not a single great worldwide patent has emerged, nor have they produced a single Nobel Laureate. This is despite the government pouring thousands of millions of rupees into their establishment and upkeep,” it points out.

Pointing out that India ranks amongst the worse in terms of patents and new start-ups in technology and innovation, the study says: “Even a small nation like Italy or Finland does better than us. We still do not have a single equivalent of a Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Walmart or a Nike”

While most of the IITians choose to go abroad for research, they do not return home after obtaining their doctoral programmes.

Another reason for low commitment and resources for the research in the institutions of higher learning is that 90% of the state and central funding goes into payment of salaries and overhead costs and building of new physical infrastructure. This leaves almost no money for research and innovation.

Political interference and using universities as hubs for political activities, the study said, only compounds the problems. “Outdated curriculums, teachers and student unions ensure that status quo is preserved.”

“It said UGC and AICTE and other such councils have virtually had an archival stranglehold over policy and have stifled any possible innovation and new ways of thinking. Our education system is just living in ancient history even in subjects like sciences and engineering,” it adds.

The paper suggested setting up of a National Higher Education Commission (NHEC), an independent regulator on the lines of SEBI or CVC (Central Vigilance Commission). The proposed NHEC must ensure mandatory quality rating of all universities and institutions of higher learning, be they government, state, autonomous or private.

The proposed body must also create under it a think tank of enlightened persons from different walks even from those with rural background to assess the need, demand and changing technology for use in education.

Source: TOI

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