Identifying the Problems in Higher Educational Institutions in India

What is noticed in higher education in India is that much of the issues reported have occurred at colleges and universities (deemed and private) which are controlled by federal state legislations. This indicates that there are severe issues in how the federal state promote and manage these higher educational institutions. It is also indicative from the above observations that the regulatory environment was least proactive to limit the number of such incidents. In addition, repeated occurrences of such incidents question the accreditation practices existing in India. The outreach of the existing regulatory structures seems to have been bypassed in the federal states.

The following broad problems are identified as constraints to expanding the higher educational infrastructure in India. These problems are classified under the three categories of Regulatory, Institutional and Decision making


The regulatory environment and the existing system of accreditation in India has proved to be inefficient in the sector. There are two issues here. a) Centralisation of regulatory and accrediting institutions: Regulation and accreditation in India are centralised with poor outreach in the federal states. There is a significant requirement for expanding the reach of accrediting institutions across the country for keeping pace with the growing number of higher educational institutions.The dependence and existence of accrediting institutions as appendages to the regulators stymied its functioning. The process of separation is currently being decided. b) Corrupt practices within regulatory agencies: Corruption by officials of UGC and AICTE has often been reported in the various federal states. In addition to the UGC and AICTE, there exist a number of statutory professional councils which act as regulators of higher educational institutions. However, the functioning of some of these councils like the Medical Council of India (MCI) was questionable. In 2010 the president of MCI was arrested for allegedly taking bribes to give recognition to private medical colleges. The inefficient legal structures guiding these organisations are reflected in the fact that the same person was taken on board a few years later. In an attempt to standardize medical education in India the National Commission for Human Resources for Health (NCHRH) Bill, 2011, was introduced in the parliament. The bill proposed to dismantle the existing professional councils with an overarching regulatory body. In view of concerns raised by the federal states the bill was rejected seeking further recommendations. There is no effective mechanism to challenge corruption in these institutions. The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill (2010) which is still pending debates in Parliament is a necessary start towards these issues. The situation reflects inefficiency and indecisiveness in managing the sector.


The Question on Affiliated Colleges UGC regulations do not grant private universities the right to start affiliated colleges. Affiliated colleges are allowed only under state universities. Section 2 (f) of the UGC Act 1956 regulates these colleges across the states which submit their proposals for financial assistance from the UGC. Affiliated colleges under state universities provide for most of the under-graduate education in India. The system of affiliated colleges has been identified as increasingly becoming a burden to state universities. The Madhava Menon committee identified these problems in the federal state of Kerala. Alternatives recommended by the committee included providing autonomy to these colleges, or grouping them to form cluster universities. The legislation for private universities do not incentivize undergraduate courses. The existing fee structure for undergraduate  programmes are relatively low. This builds a system where private universities are keen to provide professional courses in management, engineering or medicine where the fees charged are relatively higher. The second problem with promoting a university system which has no incentive to promote liberal arts, humanities, social sciences and science has much to do with defining the purpose of education. The strength of this argument is derived from suggestions made in the Yeshpal Committee report 2009. The report notes that “there is a need to expose students, especially at the undergraduate level, to various disciplines like humanities, social sciences, aesthetics etc., in an integrated manner. This should be irrespective of the discipline they would like to specialize in subsequently” (Yeshpal, 2009, 21).


Fee Decisions made by the Federal States Fee structures for the various courses are fixed by the federal state governments. Admission and Fee Regulatory Committees (AFRC) exist in most of the federal states to determine the fee structures in private-professional educational institutions. There are contentions between the state and these private institutions on whether the fee charged should be uniform across students. The state aims at differential fee structures based on economic and social criteria. However, the private educational institutions argue for a uniform fee structure. Private educational institutions also point out that the AFRCs are vulnerable and easily influenced by the federal state governments. This affects their capacity to act as independent regulatory organizations. It has also been recognised that the fee structure can vary with factors like location, infrastructure, or funds required to expand the institutions. Uniform fee structures are likely to influence the functioning of private providers that require funds for these purposes. Such regulations could restrict fund requirements and contribute to corruption and cronyism. In affiliated colleges of state universities expenditure incurred by the federal state governments to provide subsidised education is huge.



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