National Knowledge Commission
हिन्दी বাংলা অসমীয়া অসমীয়া ಕನ್ನಡ
ارد و தமிழ் नेपाली মণিপুরী ଓଡ଼ିଆ ગુજરાતી

  Higher Education

29th November 2006

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Higher education has made a significant contribution to economic development, social progress and political democracy in independent India. But there is serious cause for concern at this juncture. The proportion of our population, in the relevant age group, that enters the world of higher education is about 7 per cent. The opportunities for higher education in terms of the number of places in universities are simply not adequate in relation to our needs. Large segments of our population just do not have access to higher education. What is more, the quality of higher education in most of our universities leaves much to be desired.

At the outset, we would also like to stress that foundations are critical. We believe that an emphasis on expansion and reform of our school system is necessary to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to enter the world of higher education. We are engaged in consultations on school education. We will send our recommendations in this crucial area in due course. In this letter, we focus on higher education.

The NKC has engaged in formal and informal consultations on this subject with a wide range of people in the world of higher education. In addition, we consulted concerned people in parliament, government, civil society and industry. The concerns about the higher education system are widely shared. There was a clear, almost unanimous, view that higher education needs a systematic overhaul, so that we can educate much larger numbers without diluting academic standards. Indeed, this is essential because the transformation of economy and society in the twenty-first century would depend, in significant part, on the spread and the quality of education among our people, particularly in the sphere of higher education. And it is only an inclusive society that can provide the foundations for a knowledge society.

The objectives of reform and change in our higher education system, as you have often stressed, must be expansion, excellence and inclusion. We recognize that meaningful reform of the higher education system, with a long-term perspective, is both complex and difficult. Yet, it is imperative. Our analysis, diagnosis and prescriptions are set out in a detailed note on higher education which is attached. In this letter, we simply highlight our prescriptions.


1. Create many more universities. The higher education system needs a massive expansion of opportunities, to around 1500 universities nationwide, that would enable India to attain a gross enrolment ratio of at least 15 per cent by 2015. The focus would have to be on new universities, but some clusters of affiliated colleges could also become universities. Such expansion would require major changes in the structure of regulation.




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