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Boom in Private Higher Education in Madhya Pradesh

MP– “The Heart of India” gets 220 new colleges in a span of one-year. According to the All-India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) for the academic year 2019-20, there were 2411 higher educational institutions (HEIs) in Madhya Pradesh against 2191 colleges in the previous session. These are primarily dominated by private players and overall enrolment has increased by 1,10,455 students. The report states a total of 15,01,236 enrolments against 13,90,781 candidates enrolled in the previous session. Acc. to the report Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher education in India is 27.1 and that of Madhya Pradesh is 24.2 which is calculated for 18-23 years age group. Average enrolment per college in the state has increased by an average of 37 candidates.

With admission into highly subsidised top tier centrally funded universities and elite IITs, IIMs, NITs, likely to become more difficult due to the loss of learning in the pandemic year, the next option available are in private colleges and universities which provide near equivalent higher education albeit at relatively high tuition fees. Private universities and colleges offer better academic programmes, faculty, and infrastructure than state government institutions which are filled with incompetent faculty, being in this position through caste and kinship with state politicians and bureaucrats. 89% Universities of MP responded to the AISHE survey in the academic session 2019-20 which is 3% more than previous session. As per the recent report of AISHE, there are total 1946 colleges in state, out of which 1128 are private unaided, 198 are private aided and 620 are government colleges for a population of 9021043 for the age group of 18-23. Whereas in session 2018-19, there were total 1895 colleges out of which 1089 were private unaided, 200 were private aided, and 606 were government Institutions.

Himanshu Rai - Director IIM Indore; said that there is a rise in private universities and colleges because of the new educational policy which gives more autonomy to colleges, encourages original and unique ideas to take root with a disciplinary approach, it stimulates multilingual colleges and competition. He added that government has made it easy for private players to increase their engagement by curtailing the bureaucratic hurdles (both industry wise and others included) and also by political stability. The BJP Govt. did not reverse the policies made by the previous Congress Government. He however, says that the budget allocated to education is not sufficient and needs to be increased for enhancement of quality education.

Home to 2 Central Universities, 8 Institute of National Importance, 21 State Public Universities, 1 State Open university, 33 State Private Universities, and 1 Deemed University as per AISHE; MP showcases an upward trend of investment in building of human capital. However, the question that arises is whether the literacy rates have increased or not? Is the growth only in urban areas and has the rural areas been left in the “bimaru” status or is it an overall development spread across all 53 districts. MP is the second largest Indian state by area and the fifth largest state by population with over 86.8 million people. As per the 2021 Census data the literacy rate of MP is 84.78% for the urban regions in which 89.48% are males and 77.26% are females. Increase of literacy rate is clearly visible because as per 2011 census report, MP had an overall literacy rate of 70.6%. As per NIRF 2020 ranking, only two colleges from MP namely, IIT Indore and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal, ranked in the top 50 colleges of India.

BJP government in MP has allocated Rs. 9793 crores for the establishment of primary schools, and Rs. 5329 crores have been allocated for secondary education. Rs. 4027 crores have been allocated towards higher secondary education. Dr. Rekha Gupta – Dean Education; Rabindra Nath Tagore University, (formerly AISECT University) Bhopal; said the budget allocated by the M.P. executive fulfils the needs of only a few colleges, schools and universities and much more is needed for the upliftment of all of the other schools and colleges particularly in rural regions of the state so that the primary necessities of the students are fulfilled. This may stop the migration of college students to different states for higher studies. Special attention needs to be paid to infrastructural facilities, course structuring and practicality in Education in addition to rote learning. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan while addressing an Education Summit organised by India Today, informed that the government in assistance with the private sector has taken a vow to turn Devi Ahilyabai University, Indore, into one of the top ten university globally. He added that the government wants other universities of MP to also improve their ranking. He added that the government has decided to foot the fee of poor students in private colleges. He further stressed on the loan facilities for the students pursuing professional courses. He announced that those parents who do not have money to become bank guarantors, government will play the role for them. Earlier the CM announced that children who lost their parents or guardians to COVID-19 will be provided free education and a Rs.5,000/- monthly pension. The CM Rise scheme released by the BJP govt. will upgrade 9200 schools with modern-day infrastructure. The cabinet has approved Rs 6,952 crore for setting-up of these schools. For 2021-22, the scheme has been allocated Rs 1,500 crore, for use to modernise 350 colleges. Government is improving the quality of higher education by supporting it with necessary legislation to encourage private universities establishment in the state. This will lead to a regulatory structure and accreditation agencies playing key role in maintaining quality and standards. Funding any project is vital for its success, as huge stakes are involved. High capital requirement to meet land and infrastructure facilities, endowment fund and other requirements have to be taken care of in order to open universities and colleges. This is aggravated by restrictions on the source of funding — only a Society or Trust or Section 25 company can be a sponsoring body, i.e., for-profit organisations cannot finance such ventures. However, it’s also necessary to evaluate whether input-centric norms only add to costs and their contribution to the quality of outcomes in the higher education system. It’s important to put these private universities and colleges under scanner, based on an assessment of their quality of education and management patterns.