‘Existing centres of learning should be transformed into knowledge centres’

University Grants Commission’s (UGC) Chairman (acting) Ved Prakash has said only 12 per cent of graduates are seeking admission to postgraduate (PG) courses in various universities and institutions in the country and there are glaring regional imbalances in the enrolment of students in higher education.

He was speaking at the 5th National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation ceremony here on Sunday. Prof. Prakash said only 1 per cent of postgraduate students enrol for research programme in various fields.

Plans to increase GER

The UGC had chalked out several plans to increase gross enrolment ratio (GER) of students (in the age group of 18 to 22) in higher education. He was optimistic of increasing the GER from the present 20 per cent to 30 per cent by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). The enrolment of candidates for degree courses would be increased from the present 20 million to 29 million by the end of 12th Plan period. The number of students enrolled in distance education would go up from 4.6 million to 6.3 million by 2017, Prof. Prakash said.

Noting that a large number of students from marginalised sections of society would join colleges for degree courses, he said enrolment for PG courses and research programmes need to be improved to overcome shortage of teachers. There was a need to transform existing centres of learning into knowledge centres to provide quality education, the UGC Chairman said.

“Teaching and research are two sides of the same coin and the modern society cannot exist without research society.” Most of the research institutions had been overwhelmingly public institutions and they facilitate environment for both competitive and collaborative research and studies, he said.

Profit motive

Stating that corruption was rampant globally in higher education, Prof. Prakash said the profit motive was the major objective of many overseas institutions. Institutions would not last long without equity and quality of education. He also noted contribution of private educational institutions in increasing the gross enrolment ratio in degree and PG courses.

Funds

The UGC had sought Rs. 1,84,470 crore for its various programmes during the 12th Plan period against Rs. 85,0000 crore in the 11th Five Year Plan. Prof. Prakash said the UGC had planned strategies for the 12th Plan period with various schemes under the three major heads of access, equity and quality.

In some developed pockets of the country, enrolment was 42 per cent against less than 6 per cent in backward regions, he said. There were over 600 universities and university-level institutions and 31,000 colleges in the country as of 2011.

He said considerable challenges still remained. Access to higher education was still less than the minimum international threshold levels. Besides skewed distribution of institutions, enrolment was largely concentrated in public universities.

Further, enrolment was more in conventional disciplines, he added.

According to Prof. Prakash, higher education has been facing a few major challenges — regional imbalances in enrolment, equity, enrolment of candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities, crisis of identity where middlemen play a vital role to increase enrolment in colleges, and lack of effective governance and vision.

NAAC Director H.A. Ranganath explained the role of the council in the higher education system. Representatives of 430 educational institutions received accreditation certificates from NAAC.

Around 500 delegates from State universities, deemed universities, and principals of colleges and educational institutions attended the ceremony.