Greater Noida: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday expressed concern over the falling standard of higher education in the country even though he said the proliferation of private sector has led to greater access.
“Some private institutions have ably complimented the efforts of the public sector institutions in meeting the high demand for the tertiary education of our society,” Mukherjee said after inaugurating the Shiv Nadar University here.
He added that private institutions account for about 60 per cent of students enrolled in higher education.
Stating that there were only 20 universities in 1950, Mukherjee said on Monday there are 712 universities in the country and the number of colleges has increased from 500 to more than 36,000.
“Though (private sector) proliferation has led to greater access, its negative fallout on the standards is alarming. Its declining quality for standard, particularly in the areas of higher learning... “... if not reversed quickly, we will land ourselves in a scenario of having a large number of people with degrees but not enough manpower with proficiency to meet the emerging requirement of our industrial and other sectors,” Mukherjee said.
He cited the example of ancient Indian universities like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramashila and said that in the past, India has led the world in creating standards in the field of higher learning, and institutions in the country should strive for the same again.
“Almost like a parrot in all educational congregation, I draw the attention of audience, not one or two years, but almost 1,800 years, India led international community in the area of higher learning.
“Universities like Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramshila... attracted the brilliant minds in the form of students and teachers,” President Pranab Mukherjee said.
He regretted that now universities or institutions of higher learning in India are not up to the mark.
“We must come up to the international standards. The Nadar University, which has impressive infra, should be able to replicate these achievements,” he said.
The president said that two Indian institutions, for the first time in 2015, have been ranked in the list of top 200 universities prepared by internationally reputed rating agencies.
“I am happy that at least these two institutions have come up and I have no doubt that many more will join,” he said.
Meanwhile, the president announced the winner of a Rs50 million grant from the Rs100 crore fund of HCL Foundation to support NGOs and individual social leaders.
He gave the award to NGO ‘Going to School’ a charitable trust by former communications consultant at UNICEF Lisa Heydlauff.
Also present, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik said private universities co-exist with public universities and fill the gap of infrastructure and investment deficit experienced in higher education sphere in the country.
“I take pride in our culture and civilization, however, when it comes to a healthy comparison, the Indian universities do not have any significant global presence. The main reason for this could be the lack of interest in innovative thinking and research,” Naik said.