India Pushes Higher-Education Expansion With 40% Budget Increase
New Delhi — The Indian government is following through on its pledge to expand higher education by increasing its budget by an unprecedented 40 percent, to $3.1-billion, for 2009-10, according to a news release. The new allocation exceeds the 21-percent increase already promised in the government’s interim budget, announced in February.
The government has also allotted an extra $435-million to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology, and $170.5-million more to open 16 central universities in states that lack one. In keeping with its agenda of inclusive economic growth, the government has also announced interest-free loans for disadvantaged students to take technical and professional courses.
To increase India’s college-going rate to 21 percent by 2017, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has in the last few years 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 16 central universities, 14 “world class” universities, and almost 400 colleges.
Some criticized the government, however, as elitist in giving special treatment to the Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology.
“More IIT’s and NIT’s are not going to solve the problems of state universities and degree colleges which are ailing and crying for help,” Manoj Dixit, a professor at Lucknow University, a state university in Uttar Pradesh, told The Times of India. “Stress on IIT’s and NIT’s only signify the elitist approach, whereas the masses study in ordinary colleges. The need is to strengthen state universities, particularly those which were established in the pre-Independence period and have contributed in the freedom struggle.” —Shailaja Neelakantan