“Competition maintains quality education”
Murugesan Ponnavaikko, vice chancellor, SRM University, discusses his opinion of the Indian education system. Q. What change have you observed in the Indian education system over the years? A. Over the years the system has been open to private participation, resulting in the increase of number of colleges from 4,738 in 1981 to 25,951 in 2010 and the number of universities from 123 in 1981 to 533 in 2010. While this has increased access to higher education, increasing the GER from seven per cent in 2001 twelve per cent in 2010, it has not addressed the issues, such as, equity, quality and relevance.
A large number of seats remain unfilled today due to high tuition fees charged by the private players in higher education, which the private investors are forced to do to meet the expenses. Thus economically weaker students do not have access to the privately funded universities. Q. With new private universities coming up, there seems to be a sense of competition? Are you facing the heat? A. Competition between the universities is necessary for maintaining the quality of education. Any good university should be in the competitive race to attract bright students and the industries for funding agencies to seed research in the university. Also supporting the core academic mission is most important.