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India HE losing $6-7bn to overseas competitors, study claims

Indian higher education institutions and IITs are losing US$6-7bn annually to their foreign counterparts as more students look to study overseas, the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India has claimed. The industry body has called on government to create an independent commission to improve quality across public and private sectors of education.

IIT Bombay. ASSOCHAM is critical of India's prestigious IITs saying despite significant government funding, the don't compete on the global research scale.IIT Bombay. ASSOCHAM is critical of India's prestigious IITs saying despite significant government funding, the don't compete on the global research scale.

last year 680,000 Indians went abroad, up from 290,000 the year before, motivated by a lack of quality education, better opportunities and lifestyles elsewhere

In a report, ASSOCHAM argues that the lack of quality institutions in India has led to extreme competition for places at domestic universities and is pushing a growing number of indian students to study overseas.

“Very few universities in India provide good quality education and thus the challenge of securing admission in them becomes more daunting each year”

“An important reason for many Indians choosing to study abroad is the lack of good institutions in India and growing competition for limited seats amongst the existing institutes. Very few universities in India provide good quality education and thus the challenge of securing admission in them becomes more daunting each year,” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S. Rawat.

The ASSOCHAM study found that Indian families spend between $6-7bn a year to send their children abroad for higher education.

“It is not just the elite who spend generously on a good education and credentials but the middle class families also spend their life time savings to educating their children abroad,” it says.

According to ASSOCHAM, last year 680,000 Indians went abroad, up from 290,000 the year before, motivated mostly by a lack of quality education, better opportunities and lifestyles elsewhere, it reasons. “A minuscule number of them choose to return home,” it added.

UNESCO statistics from 2012 show there were nearly 200,000 mobile higher education students from India, mostly travelling to the US, followed by the UK and Australia.

European countries including Germany and France and other Asian countries like Singapore, and China are also becoming attractive destinations for outbound students, ASSOCHAM notes.

ASSOCHAM also notes that India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world after the US and China, but still, competition for admissions is fierce.

Rawat drew on the example of Delhi University, which has raised its admission grade requirements to 100% for some degree programmes, including computer science. Others remain staggeringly high, hovering above the 90% level.

Similarly, the study found that a student has a one in 50 chance of securing a place at one of the country’s 18 prestigious institutes of technology.

A student has a one in 50 chance of securing a place at one of India’s 18 prestigious institutes of technology

It adds that despite attracting the country’s brightest and best, the IITs still don’t compete on the global scale for research. “Not a single great worldwide patent has emerged nor have they produced a single Nobel Laureate,” said ASSOCHAM.

“This is despite the government pouring thousands of millions of rupees into their establishment and upkeep,’’ the study noted.

The study is also critical of the funding system allowing money to go toward salaries, overhead costs and facilities, instead of research.

The organisation has called on government to created a National Higher Education Commission as an independent body that will regulate quality rating of all higher learning institutions across the public and private sectors.

“Though Indian higher education system is the largest in the world in terms of institutions and third largest in terms of enrolment, we lack in innovation and making our youth employable,” Rawat charged.

Founded in 1920, ASSOCHAM has 4.5 million members and represents 400 chambers and trade associations around India.

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