Times Higher Education reports that the Student Loan Access for 23 Private Colleges have been suspended (See story). This means that these private colleges will not be able to recruit any more students for the current academic year. Presumably, they would be able to recruit again for the 2014-15 Academic Year, when their numbers will be capped (they have been uncapped so far). Indeed, this should not amount to much as the main recruiting season, Autumn 2013, is already over, and some of these private colleges have recruited more students than they can possibly service. However, this tale of expansion leading to knee jerk reaction from the Government is yet another illustration how little the Policy Makers understand the Private Providers in Education.
To be clear, private providers have not over-recruited. This is because there was never a limit set on how many students they can actually recruit, and hence the Government's decision, prompted by 'expansion', may appear strange, and may even be open to legal challenge. However, apparently, some of these providers have indeed recruited too many: There are colleges which may have projected, in their application, only a few hundred students but ended up taking in thousands, throwing off the Government's calculation out of the window.
Indeed, this debate is muddled because it is so ideologically potent. The Universities and Colleges Union immediately demanded suspension of funding to all private providers. Others have made the case that taxpayer money should not go to the Private Providers at all. Times Higher Education, a respectable publication, indulged in some sensationalism by dragging Pearson's name in the fray, though Pearson has nothing to do with this other than being the accrediting body of the qualifications that these colleges offer. (Pearson makes only a couple of hundred pounds per student and to describe that as 'Pay Dirt' is purely an attempt to change the debate) Indeed, this is a losing tactic, as, by broadening the debate, the discussion shifts to the issue of principle (private sector delivering public services are all too common and successful in many sectors) and away from the incentives that must be closely examined.
Why did this 'expansion' happen? One can possibly find the answers in the incentives in the system as well as inadequate control mechanisms. The first reason why the numbers are high this year is because they are uncapped (private providers were allowed to recruit as many students as they can) and will be capped at this year's recruitment levels next year onwards. So, there is a clear incentive for private providers to maximise their recruitment this year, so that this becomes the base number for them from next year onwards. This, indeed, is a dangerous incentive to give to any private provider at any time. The second reason is indeed that there is very little control over how the student recruitment is being done by the private providers: Some of them are already employing agents who are standing in street corners recruiting students who have no intention to study but do not mind turning up for a few days as some colleges are offering monetary incentives and access to maintainance loans etc. These are perfectly legitimate operations at the face of it, and may even pass off as a bold attempt to widen participation, but as everyone involved already knows, this is a quite elaborate con the Government has no means to control and penalise other than taking these knee-jerk measures which affect everyone in the sector.
The obvious conclusion to draw is that the private sector is prone to such practices and therefore be barred from accessing public money, but that's the wrong conclusion. Private sector providers can quite successfully point to less than kosher recruitment practices of public providers, carried on their behalf by their recruitment agents, which are as edgy as that of the private ones. Besides, there are number of private providers who would object to being painted with the same brush, and will point to the variety of the sector. And, besides, broadening the debate into the Public-Private divide effectively allows the malpractices to go unaddressed: When we should be looking at what effectively happened in these colleges, debating whether Pearson has gained from this expansion is indeed the wrong way to start.
The over-eagerness of public universities to paint everything into a public versus private debate continues to obscure the much-required discussion about how to create a responsible private sector in education. There is an argument about keeping the public sector in Higher Education, but this must be debated outside the narrow band of keeping the privileges of those involved in it currently: The wider issues of diversity of goals, the variety of student aspirations and the multiplicity of challenges must be addressed before jumping into the conclusion that there can be only one kind of Higher Education. And, this applies to the proponents of Private Higher Education as well: The succession of failures of the private sector is proof enough that a laissez-faire model may not be the panacea of all our problems with Higher Ed.
This current debate is yet another opportunity to revisit the possibility of creating a more diverse, responsible sector.
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
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
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
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.
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
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,
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. Reli
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
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
Italy recently apologised to Libya for its occupation of the country between 1911 and the Second Word War and offered an investment deal of $5 Billion over next 25 years towards reparation. This is largely symbolic, and investment deals could have been done without adding this moral halo . But the apology itself is an important step. The key question is one of principle, indeed. It is about whether the occupying countries do accept that their colonial exploits did enormous harm to the occupied, and whether they are ready to accept the responsibility. As the world becomes more sensitive towards the wrongness of occupation [even George Bush was heard saying that occupation of Georgia by Russia is unthinkable in the 21st century!!], and the world justice system gears up to try the leaders causing genocide and violence, paying for past crimes - including occupation - becomes ever more relevant and important. There are several issues which are still hotly debated - slavery, for example,
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.