Cost of Education, Education Quality, Emerging, Ethics, For-Profit, Legislation, Required, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Heard: India’s Faces A Foundational Future Risk As Fake Colleges Proliferate

Rama Lakshmi writes in The Washington Post about fake, unaccredited colleges in India that are adding to an education crisis. Wired Academic Managing Editor Paul Glader reported on the same topic in 2007 during a trip to India. Colleges in India are often poorly regulated, unaccredited and some are entirely fake. They are springing up to take advantage of the demand for degrees. This is an important issue for the nation of more than 1 billion people as it faces the dilemma of educating roughly 250 million young people. That means India’s education chief Kapil Sibal has his hands full clamping down on profiteers, frauds and diploma mills.

Lakshmi writes:

More than 5 million Indians enter the 15-to-24 age group every year, adding to the demand for more colleges and universities. Properly educated and employed, these young people could bring the country a demographic dividend, the sort of surge in growth that buoyed many of the Asian “tiger” economies from the 1960s to the 1990s. But if India does not create high-quality colleges for its young people, it risks reaping a demographic disaster. 

The higher-education commission recently released a list of 21 “fake universities,” many of them no more than a mailing address or signboard hanging over a shop, temple or hole-in-the-wall office space. A government regulator that focuses on technical schools named 340 private institutions that run courses without its accreditation. Of more than 31,000 higher-education institutions, only 4,532 universities and colleges are accredited.

“India’s university system is in a deep crisis,” said Devesh Kapur, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania, who has written extensively on the subject. “There are so many regulatory barriers to setting up a college or university that it deters honest groups but encourages those who are willing to pay bribes. ”Millions of young Indians will have high expectations, paper credentials, but will be poorly educated. We can be absolutely sure that it is not going to be pretty.” India aims to raise its college enrollment rate to 21 percent in five years, up from 13 percent now. In contrast, the enrollment rate is 23 percent in China and 34 percent in Brazil.

Lakshmi writes that the government is drafting nine higher education-related bills aimed at improving the sector, including one that would allow foreign universities to establish campuses in India. Only Virginia Tech and the University of California-Davis plan to start research centers in India. Meanwhile the government in India is trying to crack down on diploma mills that offer doctorate degrees in subjects they don’t teach. Lakshmi reports excellent examples of the fake schools marketing phony degrees to people. Meanwhile, India looks to solutions:

In February, activists in six states launched a campaign calling for a greater government role in monitoring higher education. ”The government must not abdicate its responsibility in creating knowledge,” said Anil Sadgopal, a leading education activist. “So many parents are selling their farmland and spending their life’s earnings to send their children to colleges that are nothing more than private shops.”

Via The Seattle Times

Glader wrote in a 2007 piece in The Wall Street Journal:

The new institutions raise difficult issues. “The government is not very comfortable with the growth of the private sector,” says Pawan Agarwal, a former government official in the higher education field and now a scholar at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. The government’s concern is that some of the new colleges and universities may be taking advantage of the rising middle class. Prospective students have few independent sources for assessing quality, in contrast to the U.S., where a student can look at not only accreditation but also independent rankings by magazines and newspapers.

Another concern is that India’s private universities — which by law must be nonprofit — are blurring the lines between philanthropy and business, Mr. Agarwal says. While students at even the top publicly funded schools pay less than $1,000 a year in tuition, the private institutions charge two to three times that amount, going as high as $10,000. “The concern is that the private colleges are exploitative. They create the impression of high quality and ask for high fees,” Mr. Agarwal says.

Nevertheless, the Indian government is gradually allowing more private institutions. For decades, the country relied mainly on publicly funded institutions, such as Delhi University and the highly competitive Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management, for higher education. But a lack of university capacity has led to India having a lower proportion of youth ages 17 to 23 enrolled in higher education than China, the Philippines and Malaysia. The national University Grants Commission sets rules and criteria for the new institutions, and states are responsible for ensuring they are enforced.

Via The Wall Street Journal &

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