Here is a rather detailed critique of the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission(pdf) in the latest issue of EPW. The main arguements of the article may be summarised as follows:
- The report does not base its recommendations on previous studies and research;
- Some of the data on which the report bases its recommendations are wrong;
- The commission does not take into account the fact that our present universities are less optimal in their working, while recommending the increase in the number of universities to 1500; in the event, the recommendation of the commission to scale down the existing universities does not make sense;
- The commission seems to favour private universities;
- The commission recommendation to set up a new Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) instead of strengthening the existing bodies does not make sense;
- Some of the recommendations of the commission were made earlier, and they are in the report without attribution;
- The commission recommends state support in terms of allocation of public land even to private universities;
- In view of the recommendation above, the recommendation that the excess land available to universities can be used to generate revenue means that the private universities are given land by government which they then use for commercial purposes;
- The recommendations of the commission are largely pro-privatisation;
- There is no empirical evidence to support the conclusion that an increase in private universities will result in an increase in the enrollment in them; and,
- The Government can finance the necessary massive expansion higher education without having to rely on private institutions, and the NKC does not recognise the significant role that the state can and has to play.
While most of these criticisms are to be addressed (and, one hopes that this paper will initiate such a discussion), I personally do not see anything wrong with the private institutions playing a crucial role in higher education and the recommendation that they be allowed to do so.
PS:- Here are some of my earlier posts in this blog about Indian University system:
- On Indian Universities: a triology (in four parts) — This post is actually the fourth part of the triology;
- What ails Indian Universities;
- On the need for real universities; and,
- University funding mechanism.