“A major reason for the poor gross enrolment ratio in higher education is that the education is not affordable. This is not going to improve with the advent of foreign universities. Also, their entry is not going to guarantee the improvement in quality of Indian higher education,” G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras, said here on Saturday.

He was speaking on “Hegemony of Globalism vis-à-vis Democratic Pragmatics in Higher Education” at the inauguration of the 64 {+t} {+h} Annual Conference of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) at SNR Kalaiarangam.

Terming the entry of foreign educational institutions an “endangering situation”, the Vice-Chancellor said there could be possible adverse effects because they were not going to adopt any reservation policy.

Lamenting that disparity and discrimination existed between State and Central universities, he said that when there existed a criterion for admission of students and recruitment of teachers, why was there a disparity in retirement age of teachers and funding for institutions.

“The aim of higher education has changed from providing education to making students contribute to a knowledge economy. Now, it is making students into marketable products. Demand-and-supply strategy has also started working in higher education system,” Mr. Thiruvasagam regretted.

Expansion, inclusion and excellence were being advocated by all the committees set up by the government to enhance the quality of higher education. But, these could not be ensured through privatisation and commercialisation of education, he added.

P. Jayagandhi, President, AUT, said the association was one of the stakeholders in higher education. “We are not against change. But it should not retard the growth of inclusive education.” K. Meena, Vice-Chancellor, Bharathidasan University, said that it was time to take stock of the development pattern, strengths and weaknesses, problems and perspectives, with a view to shape and cope with global interventions in higher education.

Acceding to the fact that she was not competent on commenting on the composition of the university bodies and the domination of interests if any, she asserted that the teacher representation in these bodies was not in adequate or required proportion to the total strength.

“Let us beg to differ on issues, but unite to ensure the dignity of the profession against all odds. Let us always keep in mind that however noble one's value and aim may be, the means adopted for achieving it should never fall in its standard,” she added.

C. Swaminathan, Vice-Chancellor, Bharathiar University, S. Pannirselvam, General Secretary, AUT, R. Sampath, Treasurer, AUT, and V. Ambalavanan, former Treasurer, AUT, also spoke.