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We need 2,000 Universities by 2020
Except Pakistan and Bangladesh, all the neighbouring countries of India are creating a revolution in higher education. Singapore, for instance, is making itself a hub for higher education in Asia.
It has invited 14 international Universities to set their bases in Singapore.
If India were to reach this magnitude of development, it will need at least 2,000 Universities by 2020, said V.C.Kulandai Swamy, former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University and Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.
Delivering the graduation address at the Kongunadu Arts and Science College here on Sunday, he said the most important structural change needed in higher education in India was the transfer of higher education from affiliated colleges to university campuses.
There is a need to increase the number of institutions of higher learning. The admission strength of existing institutions and the research faculties in these institutions should also be improved.
All over the world, higher education took place in Universities. But, in India, it took place in affiliated colleges, which are often ill-equipped and understaffed. The responsibilities of affiliated colleges do not include research.
Despite efforts to promote literacy, the country had a literacy level of 65.2 per cent for a population of 102.7 crores in 2001.
Lack of trained skill, talent and research output are the constraints for the nation’s development.
In India, only nine per cent of the work force is in the organised sector. The remaining 91 per cent are in the unorganised sector.
The productivity of the workforce in the unorganised sector is low. This is because vocational training was totally neglected.
Only five per cent of the labour force is trained. In advanced countries, more than 75-80 per cent of the labour force is trained, he observed.
India has 20,700 colleges and 415 Universities that offered B.A, B.Sc, M.A, M.Sc and other equivalent degrees. But, the number of institutions that offered training in carpentry, masonry and plumbing did not exceed 20,000. The number of such training institutions in China is around 500,000.
Comparing India with China in terms of economic development is still relevant as the country is the only one which has a population comparable to India’s and it was also a developing country at one point, Mr. Swamy said.
Tamil Nadu took in 1.1 lakh students for the engineering degree whereas the intake is merely 80,000 in the industrial training institutes in the State.
‘We are producing more engineers and technologists every year than technicians, masons, carpenters, and machinists. We need technicians and skilled workmen in much larger numbers than technologists,’ he said. It is particularly important to improve the productivity in agriculture.
The contribution of agriculture to the GDP is not commensurate with the labour force employed, he observed. Agricultural practices should be modernised and there should be adequate technology input to improve productivity.
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