The Education Loan Policy, meant to ease the burden of students, has become a herculean task for students to benefit from. Fee hikes have forced students to go for education loans. Nationalised banks offer limited loans without security, which hardly meets requirements. Loans are expanded to value of assets kept with the bank, making loans ‘not so student-friendly’.
“Education has become a commodity. We have created an unequal access to education, which has become a source of discrimination. It is for the rich only, while the poor suffer. With rising private college fees, poor students are struggling,” said Sukhadeo Thorat, Professor Emeritus of Centre for the Study of Regional Development at JNU and Former Chairman of UGC. “There are still opportunities for students from poor backgrounds in government colleges through reservation and government schemes. Unfortunately, limited seats are available. Government colleges have not expanded; the private ones are spreading, flattering the students’ needs,” said Thorat.
Changing face of edu
A major change has been observed after 70s when private colleges were established in India, although they were aided by the government. Eventually, self-financing private colleges evolved. “This was mainly when information and technology were taking a front seat,” said Arun Nigavekar, educationist and former Chairman of UGC. The chase for such courses began in the 90s when USA was looking for trained graduates. This gave rise to private colleges that offered professional courses like engineering, which topped the rank in those days.” Students from higher economic backgrounds could only benefit and obtain degrees that gave them several career opportunities, said Nigavekar.
Lack of govt funding to blame
“In Canada and Australia, they have a separate education funding organisation, where students can obtain education loan without any security. If the loan givers face any loss in case of a student not being employed after education, the government takes it as their responsibility to compensate the amount,” said Thorat. This also draws attention to the investment made by government in education. In 2015-16, the education allocation in the budget was 4.57 per cent, which dropped to 3.65 per cent in 2016-17. Although budget dedicated to Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has been raised to 8 per cent, it is divided between education and skill development. Thorat stated, in India, Gross Enrolment Ratio of students in age bar from 18-23 is around 30 per cent compared to 50 per cent in advanced countries. Also, the ratio for Dalits and Tribes are lower as their dropout rate is higher. Rich parents are willing to spend for private colleges, but the poor are struggling. Experts say that in the present situation, the education system is jeopardised.