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Lack of quality higher education, limited seats forcing 6.8 lakh students to study abroad: ASSOCHAM study


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Singapore, Germany, France ahead in new overseas destinations for Indian students

In search of quality of higher education and growing competition for limited seats available in the existing institutions compel nearly 6.8 lakh Indian students to study abroad, reveals ASSOCHAM recent study.

Consequently, higher educational institutions and IITs are losing roughly $6-7 billion (approx. Rs 50,000 crore) annually that the Indian students are spending on their higher education abroad as they are seeking greener pastures in foreign universities with a miniscule number of them choosing to return home, reveals the ASSOCHAM latest study on “Skilling India: Empowering Indian Youth through World Class Education”.

More and more Indian students are aspiring to go to newer destinations like Singapore, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Canada, China, Norway etc. This year, there has been a significant rise of 20-25% in number of students travelling abroad in new destinations for higher education. 

“Indians spend about $6-7 billion every year in sending their children abroad for higher education. 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", the study noted.

As per the study, more than 2.9 lakh Indians went abroad in 2013 and the count shot up to 6.8 lakh this year. It is probably due to reasons like lack of quality of education, better opportunities and lifestyle, adds the paper.

“An important reason for many Indians choosing to study abroad is the lack of good institutions in India and growing competition for limited seats amongst the existing institutes. Very few universities in India provide good quality education and thus the challenge of securing admission in them becomes more daunting each year” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S. Rawat.

He said, Delhi University, which has consistently set challenging cut-offs for admission and made headlines in 2015, with a 100% cut-off required for admission into Sri Ram College of Commerce. Though the cut-offs vary across subjects, most subjects require students to score in excess of 80%, with the cut-offs for popular subjects like economics ranging between 90% to 98%. Similarly, an engineering aspirant has lower than a one in 50 chance of securing admission into the highly reputed Indian Institutes of Technology.

While the IITs with an annual enrolment of 10,000-15,000 focus 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,’’ the study noted.

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 per cent of the state and central funding goes into payment of salaries and overhead costs and building of new physical infrastructure, depriving almost no funds for research and innovation.

It said University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (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", the study said.

The study 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.

“Though Indian higher education system is the largest in the world in terms of institutions and third largest in terms of enrolment, we lack in innovation and making our youth employable,” Mr Rawat said while releasing the paper.


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