BANGALORE: With the primary and secondary education sector taking all the limelight in the Union Budget, academicians in the state have touted Pranab Mukherjee’s budget as ‘disappointing’ in the context of higher education. With the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) aiming desperately to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio to 30 per cent, many have opined that a lot was expected of the budget in this regard.
“There is nothing for higher education in the budget. Usually, one per cent of the GDP was for education. This time around, I was expecting 2.5 per cent. In terms of improving accessibility to higher education, there is a need for 1500 universities, with one in each district. Overall, it is a disappointing budget,” said Dr N Prabhu Dev, Vice-Chancellor, Bangalore University.
As for monetary incentives for universities, only one from Karnataka has been recognized. University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad has been provided with a grant of Rs 50 crore. “Compared to last year, not much importance has been given to education, except for school education. There is a dire need to help universities in order to improve higher education. The budget is discouraging as far as higher education is concerned,” felt Dr K Balaveera Reddy, former Vice-Chancellor, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Belgaum.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University Dr M S Thimmappa was critical of the budget. “The budget is a bankruptcy of ideas. Low priority has been given for higher education, indicating that there is little concern for it in the country. There are no concreteness and the problems have not been addressed wholly,” he said.
“Higher education has been handed over to the private sector. This has essentially made higher education devoid of availability based on merit. The budget had to be more proactive in order to avoid making higher education cater only to the high income groups,” said Prof Ram Singh Nirjar, former chairperson of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).