Commercialisation of education is unacceptable; education institutions should not be run as business entities, said Ved Prakash, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and president of the General Council, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). He was speaking during the sixth NAAC Accreditation Award Ceremony in Bangalore on Sunday where 639 delegates from State and deemed universities as well as colleges received their accreditation certificates.

Emphasising on the significance of private institutions due to the ‘limited resources of the nation state’, Mr. Prakash said, “There are 145 State private universities and 130 deemed universities, and 95 per cent of the deemed universities are private. The share of private institutions is 40 per cent and it is going to grow further as the economy is growing. Almost 62 per cent of colleges are in the private sector.”

Urging the private sector not to treat regulatory authorities such as the UGC, All India Council for Technical Education and National Council for Teacher Education as their adversaries, he said, “We are your companions and our goal is the same. But the private system should impose some kind of self-discipline. They should make the most of regulations.” Hinting at the commercialisation of education, he said private institutions in the West were not for profit.

Speaking about the crises in identity, resources and governance in higher education, Mr. Prakash said: “Annually, the number of institutions is growing at 10.65 per cent and the enrolment at 6.82 per cent. At this rate, we will have 900 universities and 31 million enrolments by 2017. But we have never thought of what kind of workforce we need.”

Pointing out to the imbalances in the present system, he said there were single faculty institutions, as well as a skewed ratio of institutions to people — in some pockets there are 31 institutions for every 1,000 people, and in some others six institutions to 1,000 people. Among courses, agriculture and allied courses account for less than one per cent of the total enrolment, he said, adding that participation from the Muslim community in higher education was less than half of the total enrolment, and even the SC, ST participation had been decreasing.

The other challenges include coping with alternative models of education delivery developed by universities in he West, including the online mode. “Only those institutions with emphasis on equity will have an edge over the others. We need to strengthen innovations in research and pedagogy. We need collaborations at the regional, local and international levels,” he added.