New Delhi — The Indian government intends to increase its higher-education budget by 21 percent, to $2.79-billion from $2.22-billion, to help underwrite a sweeping expansion of the university system, according to an interim report presented this week in parliament, The Telegraph reported.
India’s University Grants Commission, the system’s regulator, has been allocated $1.32-billion, up from $1-billion last year, a 28-percent increase. The funds are aimed at kick-starting as many new higher-education institutions as possible before national elections that are scheduled for April and May, government officials said, according to The Telegraph.
The interim budget normally mirrors the actual budget, which is expected to be announced in the next couple of months.
“The extra funds are not so much for existing institutions but for the new institutions we hope to start soon as a part of the prime minister’s vision,” a senior official at the ministry in charge of higher education told the newspaper. Few other budget lines have seen any increases.
India has only about 400 universities and 18,000 colleges to serve a population of 1.1 billion. Less than 12 percent of young people enter higher education. The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has said he wants to raise the college-going rate to 21 percent by 2017.
Last year Mr. Singh announced plans to start five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, eight new Indian Institutes of Technology, seven new Indian Institutes of Management, and 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology — roughly doubling the number of top-tier institutions in the country. He also wants to set up a total of 16 universities in states that don’t have one, 14 “world class” universities, and almost 400 colleges. —Shailaja Neelakantan