The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India has made news recently by ordering the closure of Pearl Academy, a popular fashion school with more than 4000 students, because they were offering foreign degrees, from UK's Nottingham Trent University, illegally.
While some people would see this as an attempt to clamp down on Foreign Education in India, and make Indian Higher Education, already quite parochial, more inward-looking, this particular development may not signify any of that. While the closure of Pearl Academy would make news, especially because it is owned by the global education conglomerate, Laureate Education (something that the Indian media seemed to have overlooked, with some effort presumably), the UGC has been showing teeth and enforcing regulation for some time now.
The infamous IIPM, which operated without any license for years and offered an MBA, Masters Diploma in Business Management, to thousands of students, as well as running the equivalent of an educational ponzi scheme by guaranteeing employment of its students using a part of the fees they paid, was closed down recently, as was Mewar University last year for giving out foreign degrees without authorisation. The Indian approach to Foreign Higher Education, which was defined by legislative inaction to create any clear frameworks coupled to loose enforcement allowing a free-for-all regime, is now showing signs of change - both in terms of efforts to roll out clear guideline for foreign collaborations and an activist approach to enforcement.
It would indeed be a mistake to expect that the Indian Government, with its strong Hindu Nationalist ideology, would necessarily be very open and welcoming to Foreign Education. We know that the Indian HRD Ministry has been interfering even in supposedly autonomous institutions, either by decree, or through key appointments (in some cases, by overturning the decisions of the governing boards), or by implicitly endorsing demands of student unions affiliated to the Hindu Nationalist cause. India also instituted its own Higher Education ranking mechanism and implicitly rejected the notion that its universities need to compete for global rankings (which may indeed be seen as a defencive move as its universities usually do so poorly, especially compared with other Asian nations).
However, at the same time, one should be aware that this Government has been quite keen on foreign investment, particularly in manufacturing and technology, and has been open to foreign technical education in the country. A less reported, but perhaps more significant, move is the recent proposal to reform Professional Education sectors, such as Accountancy, Company Secretaryship and Medicine, by creating independent regulators for each of these areas instead of the current catch-all institutions such as Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) or Indian Medical Association (IMA), which are both professional bodies and sector regulators themselves. One way of looking at it is that the government is creating a bureaucratic layer and moving away from professional self-regulation. However, given that these bodies have manifestly failed to modernise the sectors they are responsible for, and have been known for corruption and incompetence (particularly the IMA, whose ex-President was caught taking bribes for granting expansion of seat capacity of a medical college), the Government move is unsurprising. The stated reason for the move, to create diversity in the sector and for development of an export-facing service economy in India, point to greater openness to foreign professional bodies and qualifications.
I would argue that there is no apparent conflict between the moves to close Pearl Academy and the new openness to global education. What Pearl Academy was able to do was clearly illegal - it was a private training institution offering a foreign degree - and it was just loose enforcement that kept it going for so long. There are people who would argue that poor countries do not have the 'right' to regulate their own Higher Education sectors - and indeed this is what is being pushed in many African countries, which have become a free-for-all for American For-profit operations - but that kind of anarchy, as previous experiences in India would show, does not necessarily enhance quality or access to Higher Education. There may some players with good intentions, but that kind of setting, where no norms are sacrosanct, usually create 'markets for lemons', where frauds and charlatans thrive - and drive out honest operators. The lack of enforcement is not of interest of anyone, including For-Profit providers trying to offer World Class education (in fact, it creates a disincentive for good education).
I am therefore cautiously optimistic about Foreign Education in India. India needs to be open to global Education, and given the demography, the time to act on it is now. The new guidelines should make it easier for Indian universities to establish partnerships and collaborations, and hopefully the New Education Policy, due later this year or early 2017, would establish clearer frameworks for Foreign institutions to operate in India. Together with the reform of the Professional Education sector, and good enforcement, this should create incentives for legitimate foreign institutions to create partnerships or even campuses in India. Indeed, there is much to be done - the current bureaucratic, punitive, regulatory structure is hardly the way to go to create a dynamic world-ready Higher Education sector, but it seems that the basics - frameworks and enforcement mechanisms - are being worked upon now.
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
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
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,
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
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.