Pune: The education sector has received a budget allocation of Rs 99,300 crore and Rs 3,000 crore for skill development in financial year 2020-21. Last year, it was Rs 96,854 crore. The budget also gives one-year internship for engineers by local bodies, 150 new apprenticeship-based courses in top 100 universities and focus on skill development.
The proposal to enable external commercial borrowings and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the education sector will benefit higher educational institutes, said Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) Vice-Chancellor Nitin Karmalkar.
“Most of the foreign universities, including Melbourne and others, are keen on investing to start blended courses or to collaborate for different courses or degrees in the universities in India,” he said.
“The government is not keen to invest in establishing new colleges, in fact, they are trying to merge institutions. This is a good option they have provided, as for universities also, rather than starting new colleges, getting investments like this is better and it will prove to be a revenue generation model as well. Most of the colleges are getting de-affiliated or autonomous. So, the money inflow to universities has reduced. How to run universities? The direct funds which we receive are based on the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF),” Karmalkar told Sakal Times.
He said it will also enable universities to offer courses such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), etc other than traditional ones, which could be experiential learning.
The finance minister also proposed Ind-SAT examination for Asian and African countries as a part of the Study in India programme, which was introduced last year.
“A similar view was expressed in the recent national conference held in the city to attract foreign students. Basically, we have to increase the number of foreign students but only those who deserve should get the entry. They will be tested for English and certain more languages can be included, may be Hindi as well. So, this test will help filter quality students coming to India. Many times, half of the academic year is spent on imparting bridge courses on languages to students,” said Karmalkar.
“One of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) officials said many students who come to India for study, come on recommendation from their local authorities. So, there was not any similar mechanism before this - it will be the first time, an exam will be introduced,” he added. Karmalkar said that he is waiting for the new education policy (NEP), which has been stated to be released soon. “Overall some good swings have been brought in the education sector, however, the effectiveness of these initiatives will depend on its implementation. On paper, they always look good,” he said.
On the contrary, education activist Mukund Kirdat said that the proposal to source FDI in the education sector will hurt the affordability of higher education for economically weaker sections.
“Opening ways for FDI in education sector will lead to unexpected hike in education for middle class and economically weaker section students. The smaller organisations will benefit from this and making higher education affordable for only upper class and bigger investors,” said Kirdat.
“We should oppose the government for not taking the responsibility to finance education in the country,” he said.