Plan looks to boost quality and quantity . . .
India’s government unveiled an ambitious new National Education Policy (NEP) last week, the first such policy in 34 years. It includes qualitative reforms, such as shifting away from rote learning and toward the development of critical thinking skills, and quantitative targets like doubling higher education enrollment to 50 per cent of high school graduates by 2035. Also of note is a focus on building up the country’s vocational training programs. If implemented effectively, the policy will help address two major challenges: unemployment and under-employment among India’s massive youth population, and the need to create the type of labour market that will support the transition to a knowledge-based economy.
Change long overdue . . .
The goals articulated in the NEP are being applauded by those who view India’s higher education sector as being in bad need of reform. On the plus side, India has quadrupled enrollment over the past two decades. But much of this enrollment is in small, specialized schools that have proliferated in recent years and have an average of only 690 students. This has created a very fragmentary higher education landscape, which contrasts starkly with the much more centralized system of large, multi-disciplinary institutions in China, whose higher education system has also undergone a major expansion in recent decades. The NEP is expected to move India closer to something resembling the Chinese model.
Open for global business . . .
One NEP-related change that is getting attention outside of India is the government’s intention to allow top-100 foreign universities to set up branch campuses in the country. While these schools will be exempt from some regulations, there will likely be a cap on the tuition rates they can charge. Some foreign universities, including several Canadian schools, have experience operating in India. This includes large universities such as Ontario-based York University’s Schulich School of Business, which in 2005 became the first foreign university to provide an internationally-recognized, two-year MBA program through its campus in Mumbai. It also includes smaller institutions, such as the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, which began offering ‘pathway’ programs – short courses of study that help students transfer their studies to other institutions – in 2006 in partnership with a local college in Chandigarh.
- The Brookings Institution: Reviving higher education in India
- Reuters: India opens door for foreign universities under new education policy
- University World News: Can India achieve its enrolment target post-pandemic?