A new trend in Indian Higher Education is that the big business houses are entering Higher Education sector by setting up schools themselves. Usually, this is to be expected: India's thriving industry requires people, and the Higher Education sector can't provide it, not with the right skill level or in adequate numbers, hence one would expect investments from large employers in propping up higher education. However, as things stand now, the corporate involvement in Higher Ed is driven by commercial considerations and bandwagon effect, everyone thinks it is a good business, rather than skills requirement or philanthropy. While this means shiny new schools and increased private investment in Higher Education, this also brings education within control of India's 'tycoon economy', and may be detrimental to education innovation in the country.
It is usual for big employers to support Higher Education: Some of the best universities in the world have been set up with support from Cornells and Rothschilds. Famously, both Yahoo and Google were incubated in William H Gates Incubation Centre at Stanford. Motives behind such support have traditionally been philanthropy, driven by a sense of national service, and may be an implied aim of nurturing talent, in the oblique hope of getting commercial benefit at a future date. Most of these support has come in the form of endowments and scholarships, and while many of the benefactors maintained some from of control as or through trustees, academic freedom was allowed - leading to creation of some of the best universities in the world.
Corporate intervention in Higher Education in India, in contrast, looks, at least mostly, a mad scramble to make a quick buck. The corporate institutions, unlike those in America, are directly controlled by the business houses. Though constituted as not for profit entities, they are very much part of a greater For Profit scheme. The owner, as India's patriarchal business culture always have an owner, takes most of the decisions anyway, and most academics, without tenure, are left at the mercy of the owner and the managers, not just the academic ones, but also the 'group' managers who are invariably hoisted on the academic layer. Most institutions, therefore, operate with an academic layer subservient to a 'trading' layer, and most decisions are made in line with the dominant trading culture of the business group.
In this framework, one would most commonly find two categories of students. Because of India's regulated education system, most such education institutions admit three-quarters of their students through a competitive examination system (which is not fully meritocratic, as the affirmative action quotas govern at least half of these admissions), who pay a regulated fee. Most institutions will then top this up with 'non-quota' students, who do not come through any admissions system at all, and would usually pay the full fee, often 10 to 15 times as much as the regulated fee, along with a donation of some kind. These students, understandably much richer than the rest of the class, are usually treated differently by the institution, allowing them far greater access to the top managers and preferential treatment where possible.
Admittedly, this practice is worse in an owner-operator set up than when a larger corporation is funding the institution, but in the end, it is still the trading logic - of that of focusing on most profitable customers - that trump the academic notions of justice and fairness. India's restrictive education regulations, which excludes for-profit institutions, in reality crowds out philanthropic interventions in the field, as everyone masquerade as a not-for-profit venture. Such restrictions obscure the fact that not-for-profit isn't just a trading form, but a particular way of approaching the social challenges, and, as a consequence, make things worse.
It is also unclear whether corporate higher education is the panacea for Indian higher education. There is quite a bit of enthusiasm and new investment in the sector at this time; however, while the available seats have expanded, there is very little variety in the educational offerings, and the gross enrollment ratio, low by any standards, have failed to lift off. In fact, it seems that there is excess capacity at this time in the Indian Higher Education sector, as more than 100 colleges have applied to the regulating body for closure. Besides, India has to address the qualitative issue in Higher Education: Whereas Korean and Chinese institutions are making great strides (not to mention the Japanese), Indian institutions remain firmly at the bottom of all world league tables. Indian corporations so far failed to infuse any of their world beating glory in their higher ed interventions: One may now look elsewhere for a solution to a sector India must fix quickly.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen was gui
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was, as
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
A lot of conversations about Kolkata is about its past; I want to talk about its future. Most conversations about Kolkata is about its decline - its golden moments and how times changed; I want to talk about its rise, how its best may lie ahead and how we can change the times. In place of pessimism, I seek optimism; instead of inertia, I am looking for imagination. It is not about catching up, I am arguing; it is about making a new path altogether. It had, indeed it had, a glorious past: One of the first Asian cities to reach a million population, the Capital of British India, the cradle of an Enlightened Age and a new politics of Cosmopolitanism. And, it had stumbled - losing the hinterland that supplied its Jute factories, overwhelmed by the refugees that came after the partition, devoid of its professional class who chose to emigrate - the City's commercial and professional culture evaporated in a generation, and it transformed into a corrupt and inefficien
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.