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Competition is the Key

The Education Minister has taken two major decisions this year. One is to shutdown 35 Engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh and the other is to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India. Pooja Bhula shows you the common impact that both decisions will have.

500 of the 692 Engineering Colleges in Andhra Pradesh do not meet the standards laid for infrastructure and faculty. Higher Education Minister Arvind Limbavali said that over 35 such colleges, including six that have foreign collaborations, will shut down in the near future. Such irregularity is not only a problem in AP but also the plight of most states across
the country.

Once new courses introduced in premier institutes gain popularity, even the most handicapped colleges want a share of the pie. They might not have good faculty but they want to capitalise on the buzz created by the course in hope of attracting more students. Local Inquiry Committee (LIC) grants permission to colleges only after checking the infrastructure and other pre-requisites; but colleges notoriously present a false picture by repainting, refurnishing and bringing forth the best students and teachers, in order to get approval. In the end, students get a flashy degree with sub – standard knowledge and no idea of the practical application of subjects in the real world. This disparity in education then leads to disparity in salaries, an MBA from a C grade college and a graduate from an A grade college get the same salaries. There is no regulatory body to ensure that a certain standard is maintained at a micro level.

Despite numerous discrepancies in the way certain institutions function, they are not closed, keeping in mind the problems students would face after such a decision. As a result, colleges at large remain laid back and a major chunk of them are infested with mediocrity.
The only solace in this scenario is the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), introduced in1994 for evaluating the performance of universities and colleges in India. The accreditation is granted for 5 years, because its objective is continuous improvement and it is renewed only after re-assessment. Mohini C. Dias, Vice Principal of Jaihind College and member of LIC, says,”Gradually NAAC is putting pressure on institutions to grow and keep pace with the changing needs.”
But the glitch is that though accreditation by NAAC has been made mandatory, the leniency in implementation limits its impact.”A large number of colleges have not bothered to attain accreditation”, Dias adds.

With the increasing gap in the quality of education, it isn’t surprising that so many are on the verge of shutting down.
Premier institutes of India hope that opening doors to foreign universities will change the face of the education sector the way economic liberation and deregulation did to the
industrial sector.

After the bill was passed in March 2010, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Georgia Institute of Technology Schulich School of Business, Boston University, Middlesex University and Duke University plan to venture in India. Many degree colleges and B-Schools already have global tie-ups or campuses, thereby fueling competition. The presence of foreign universities in India will take the competition to new heights. It will pose a threat to less proactive institutes and the increase in options will decrease the need to settle for them. Ultimately the black sheep will be forced to change their attitudes and improve or to shutdown.

All said and done, competition will lead change and only the toughest will survive.

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