Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari on Wednesday called for correcting social and regional imbalances in the country and to achieve this, the future expansion of education had to be planned carefully, he said.

Speaking at a function to mark the valedictory of the 175th year celebrations of Madras Christian College, East Tambaram, the Vice-President said the challenge ahead was to combine access with affordability and ensure high-quality education in order to realise the potential of the country’s demographic dividend.

“It is estimated that developed economies and even China will face shortage of about 40 million highly-skilled workers by 2020, while India is likely to see a surplus of graduates in 2020,” said Mr. Ansari.

India could capture a higher share of the global knowledge-based economy if there was a focus on higher education and its quality was globally benchmarked, he said.

On the importance of value education, the Vice-President said the report of the University Education Commission in 1962 had made a case for evolving national faith and a way of life based on the country’s outlook of religion that was free from dogmas, rituals and assertions.

“Since then, successive government policy documents and reports on education have echoed the vision where values are inherent in every aspect of schooling,” Mr. Ansari said.

On the occasion, he also handed over awards and medals to visually-impaired student G. Durairaj (M.A. English literature), Gladys Ruby (MSc. Zoology) and Reenu Elsa Reji (B.Com) for excelling in academics.

P.J. Kurien, deputy chairman, Rajya Sabha, in his address, said India had made advancements in the sphere of higher education, primarily due to huge allocations in the 11th five-year plan. However, serious quality deficiencies were a cause for worry, he said.

K. Rosaiah, governor, said higher education institutions should play a dominant role in shouldering the responsibility of taking India to greater heights.

K.M. Mammen, president, MCC Alumni Association, led the audience in a prayer. R.W. Alexander Jesudasan, principal, presented the college report. S. Justin, chairman, college union society, presented a vote of thanks.

Later, Mr. Kurien handed over certificates and general proficiency prizes to students. More than 1,500 graduate and postgraduate students received their degree certificates.