Future of universities is hybrid, says president of Bennett University at meet
The Times of India , Oct 31, 2018
Funding education through philanthropy, alumni network and industry involvement is the future that higher education institutions should look at. This was among the many suggestions made at the 14th FICCI Higher Education Summit held on Tuesday. Sachin Jain, president of Bennett University, talked about the need to expand education online for wider reach.
“Over the next two or three years, we will see more than 2 million students in higher education. For that we need to generate capital,” Jain said. He also said online and distance learning are necessary. “Brazil has changed its education. It’s private and fully online. We need quality institutions to cater to the increased demands and for that we can promote online and open distance. It will help reach masses at a lower amount. The future of universities is hybrid,” Jain said, adding that government initiatives like HEFA should be extended to private institutions and funding should be made merit-based.
Other experts talked about various issues at the three-day annual event. Amitabh Jhingan of Ernst & Young said that at present source of capital for educational institutions has been government funds, student financing, infrastructure financing, etc. “But we see philanthropic capital fast becoming popular in India,” Jhingan said.
N V Varghese, VC of National University of Educational Planning and Administration, said over the years enrolment has increased in the private sector with more than 60% of students going to private institutes. “Fund students through loans. The loan demand is such that it is the same as central government’s funding,” Varghese said about new ways to fund institutes.
He also complained that universities are starting self-financing courses and because of that “the public universities are in a state of stress because of the situation of decline of public funding”. But Varghese warned against destruction of education quality and pointed out that many institutions are avoiding appointment of teachers and making do with guest and ad hoc teachers. “This is killing the purpose of educational institutions where saving money becomes a priority,” Varghese said.
Gurmeet Singh, VC of Pondicherry University, agreed. He also suggested alumni funding. “Universities don’t have the data on the number of people passing out and what they are doing. It’s only with the introduction of NAAC that institutes have started to keep that data. With such data we can tap the alumni who can contribute,” Singh said.
Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates of Canada, suggested that to have donations as a mode of funding, governments should bring in changes in the tax rules.
“Most universities in India are not attractive for donors. So donors have started their own universities. This shows public institutions need to improve,” Usher said. But he also warned against institutes borrowing from the government as they often don’t earn enough to repay loans.
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