The Indian economy has expanded at a fairly steady and rapid
rate in the past fifteen years, and part of that expansion has been a greatly
increased demand for university graduates, particularly for those in technical
fields. As of 2008, India was the largest producer and exporter of IT enabled
services in the developing world. At the same time, Indian higher education has
also expanded rapidly, both in the number of students enrolled and number of
institutions—now four times the number in the US and Europe and more than twice
that of China. The growth of private colleges in technical and business fields
is an important feature of India’s higher education expansion, but it needs to be
interpreted carefully.The rapid expansion of unaided colleges affiliated with
universities is gradually transforming the role of public universities into
regulating, degree-granting institutions and away from teaching or research
(Kapur, 2009). Further, the form that higher education expansion took in India
in the 2000s resulted in a steady reduction in public spending per student in
higher education in the early 2000s.
State authorities appear increasingly willing to grant support for
private unaided colleges to become autonomous universities, thereby loosening
the regulatory power over the institutions’ decision making.At the same time, many signals
(including the government’s 2012 higher education enrollment target of 15
percent of age cohort—approximately 21 million students) point toward
considerable expansion of public universities and colleges over the next 4-5
years. The total number of students in all these institutions together,
however, will be small compared to the total output of India’s technical
this background and some preliminary data we have from student and
institutional surveys and interviews in Indian technical colleges and
universities, we try to address several important issues in Indian higher
the essence of the higher education financing system established by
government policies and what can we infer from that financing system about
government goals for higher education in the next ten years?
are colleges, their faculty, and their students reacting to these
can be said about the current quality of Indian technical/engineering
education and its prospects for the future?
What can we conclude from the Indian case about the driving forces shaping higher education and where they are likely to take it?