Expressing his concern over abysmally low access to higher education in India with 24 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), former UGC chairman Ved Prakash on Thursday suggested to revisit old university Acts, statutes and ordinances.
The former UGC chairman was speaking at the 23rd annual convocation of Nirma University as chief guest on Thursday.
“We have talked about amendments to the Acts of different universities to address the emerging concerns in higher education. Some of the Acts are very old, for instance our own Act is of 1956 (UGC Act, 1956) and since higher education has undergone enormous amount of transformation because of national and international developments, we have suggested that we should revisit our old Acts, statutes and ordinances. And when we are amending the Act, the first and foremost consideration must be quality.”
Prakash told the mediapersons before the convocation: “Access (to higher education) continues to be a major concern for us because GER of India (24 per cent) is less than the world average (27 per cent). In India, only 24 out of 100 youths in the age group of 18 to 23 years get higher education. When we aggregate the figures at the national level, we have pockets in the country where the GER is 41 per cent and as low as 7 per cent.”
Providing a solution, he said new institutions need to be set up in areas where institutional density is less than national average. “We need to utilise the residual capacity of existing institutions by increasing their intake capacity.”
He complained that the country was also not making the most out of the resources that had been created. “We can strengthen the distance learning system. We need to come up with alternate models of delivering higher education. One of the ways that we are coming up with is massive open online courses (free online courses).”
Prakash also expressed his concern over less number of children coming from marginalised sections of the society in certain areas of higher education and even lesser participation of girls than boys.
Over 500 students of Nirma University’s institutes of management and law – around 20 PhD, 227 MBA (full time), 50 MBA (family business and entrepreneurship), 107 BA LLB (hons), 65 BCom LLB (hons) and 46 BBA LL.B (hons)— were awarded degrees and diplomas. at the convocation ceremony.