A massive spurt in the number of private colleges in the last decade has given students the choice to reject ones that offer them low quality, according to Galgotias University Chancellor Suneel Galgotia. “Fifteen years back, some colleges functioned in cowsheds and even then students lined up to get enrolled. Today, hundreds of engineering colleges have to shut down because students refuse to go and study there,” he said speaking at a session titled ‘Private Education Leads to Public Good’.
But blaming the private institutions for dipping quality levels wasn’t entirely fair either, said speakers who were part of the panel discussion. In spite of the criticism they received, the sector has helped to bridge the demand-supply gap in higher education. “Till as recently as 15 years ago, higher education was largely restricted to only a few parts of the country. Today there is an equal distribution of colleges across the country, from the North to the South. Very rarely do students need to go to other States merely to access higher education,” Galgotia said.
However, the government must put into place adequate quality control measures in private education to ensure that quality is not compromised, said Supertech University Vice Chancellor V P S Arora.
NIIT University CEO Vijay K Thadani pointed out that India’s gross enrollment ratio is among the lowest in the world. He pointed out that private and public education must complement each other. “While the public sector will contribute to increasing basic education, the private sector will take to applied research; where the public sector will provide academic linkages, the private sector will provide industry linkages; and when the public sector has a long gestation period, the private sector will contribute to speed and scale,” he said.