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Public Private Partnership, the best foot forward for Higher Education
17 Feb 2012

Imparting education is generally perceived as the responsibility of the government. But, lack of financial and managerial capacity often impede the government’s ability with regard to national education system. Another problem is the rotation of power both in the centre and in the states. Till now the central government has been spending one per cent of the GDP in education and is planning to increase it to 1.5 per cent.  

Recently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended four models of Public Private Partnership to the Planning Commission and according to an estimate, the country requires an investment of over US $ 150 billion in the next 10 years. The four models proposed by the Planning Commission are in terms of basic infrastructure model in which the private sector invests in infrastructure and the government runs and operates the institutions and in turn pays to the private investor. In the second model the private sector will not only invest in the infrastructure but also run and manage the institutions and the government will pay for the selective services it will avail from the institution. 

In the third model the investment will be done by both the government and the private sector but the institutions will be run and managed by the private players and in the fourth model, the government will invest in the infrastructure and private sector will run and manage the institution. 

There is no doubt that the government cannot alone handle the investment required in the higher education sector looking at the growing demand for it and the number of students entering, thus, posing question both on quality and quantity. India Education Review asked several of the experts about their view in Public Private Partnership in Higher Education in the Indian Higher Education System. 

Prof. Pradip Narayan Ghosh, VC, Jadavpur University shares his views as; “India has made a remarkable progress in the higher education sector over the last four-five years. The Gross Enrolment Ratio in the eleventh plan period increased from 10 to 17. This was made possible because of government’s effort by increasing budget and opening up a large number of new universities, colleges and also IIT’s, IISER’s and other teaching institutes. But, the government institutes had always kept the number of students very limited and the infrastructure development was also rather slow.” 

Talking about the best way in which PPP can be implemented in India, Prof. Ghosh says, “The noticeable increase in the last plan period is partly due to the private investment but only those people having sufficient income or family resources could get their children admitted to these institutions. Therefore, unless Public Private Partnership is geared to include these marginalized groups the overall educational scenario of the country cannot be improved. Further improvement on GER needs an inclusive policy to accommodate a bigger section of the deprived people. In such a case Public Private Partnership may play an effective role if the policy includes the categorization of Higher Income Group (HIG), Middle Income Group (MIG) and Low Income Group (LIG).” 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been funding the private sector institutions affiliated to the Universities in all other disciplines except professional areas of study. For the institutions and universities offering professional courses, there is no regular funding provided except for token grants for special schemes and projects as given by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). There has been continuous demand raised by the private sector institutions for raising the tuition fees and also in some cases, it is alleged malpractice of collecting capitation fees. Since there is no special provision in the schemes for providing loans to the private education providers at low interest rates, the total funding for establishment and running of Institutions has to be fully supported by them.  

Prof S.K. Khanna, former Chairman AICTE and Vice Chairman UGC, suggesting various PPP models says, “The evolution of Public and Private Participation (PPP) mode is of a significant importance the most popular mode could be providing the State owned or acquired land parcels for establishment of new Institutions in emerging areas.  Another initiative could be facilitating the soft loans to the societies or trusts for undertaking the project on cost sharing basis with appropriate provisions to regulate its functioning. Necessarily Institutions under PPP mode should be established either as autonomous college or with deemed to be university status.” 

Prof Khanna further elaborated by saying, “One universal formula can be developed with variable function of contributions by each of PPP participant. It is not necessary to have uniform prescription of tuition fees, as it has to be a function of total capital cost and running cost of the respective institutions as audited and certified preferably by the government appointed auditors. This would mean that Institutions under PPP mode providing excellent infrastructure and very high caliber faculty, and other support staff must be compensated for the cost truthfully. Such approach would possibly work for creating extraordinary institutions under PPP mode.” 

M. S. Rawat Principal DCAC College of Delhi University in his journal ‘Dynamics of Public-Private Partnership in Higher Education-Indian Perspective’ writes, “In India, both public and private educational institutions operate simultaneously. There is little suspicion and negative connotations regarding private institutions within public education. By and large in India higher education system has been “over-regulated” and “under governed” making it more complex giving rise to ambiguities. The rational of PPP in the Indian context lies in access, funding and infrastructure. It is important to analyse dynamics between the two and lay policy dimensions in the best interest of the nation without diluting education standards. PPP models in support of higher education extend enough opportunities. PPP formats and the models may vary from project to project. It is an opportune time for government and the public sector to tap into private funds through various partnerships.” 

Naresh Wadhwa, President and Country Manager, Cisco India & South Asia says, “The main rationale for developing public private partnerships (PPP's) in education is to maximize the potential to expand equitable access and improve education outcomes, especially for marginalized groups. PPP, when implemented correctly, can increase efficiency and choice as well as expand access to education services. It also allows governments to take advantage of the specialized skills offered by certain private organizations and to overcome operating limitations faced by organisations in the public sector. On the other hand, sustainability for the private sector depends on the innovation and expertise of their employees. The challenges that higher education institutes face in recruiting and skilling and enabling students, has a direct bearing on the future workforce and the future of business and industry at large and I believe the PPP model in education will be the most effective way to take India forward in the 21st century.” 

Prof. N. Prabhakara Rao, former VC, Sri Venkateshwara University is also of the of the opinion that PPP is important for the higher education sector in India and says, “The Public Private partnership is very important, looking at the growing demand for higher education in our country. The government is not able to provide quality education to a large section of students passing out of schools. Thus Public Private Partnership should be encouraged as India is a vast country. We have to convince private players to invest in higher education but should also see that it is not being done to just make money and should have good control and monitoring for establishment of a quality higher education institution so that the fee remains equal to that in government run institution.” 

In the 11th five year plan, the government allocated around Rs 850 billion for higher education but according to Planning Commission, there is resource gap of about Rs 2.2 trillion. Thus without involving private players it would be difficult for the government alone to fill the gap and provide quality education. But, at the same time it is also to be seen that only those private players should allowed bringing up education institutions who will give priority to providing quality education rather than coming up with single point agenda of making money and opening shops.

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Dr. Bimal Sarangi
07 Mar 2012

Private engineering colleges are contributing a major role in the technical education system in India.But, flexible curriculum,timely publication of result,updating appropriate technology in need ,installation of modern and costly laboratories etc are few hindrances for providing competency based technical education to our students.In this context Cluster university model may be implemented for private Engineering colleges in India for strengthen the technical Education system .

Dr. S.Muthu
24 Feb 2012

I very much agree with Dr. Kulkarni and if India will not opt for PPP we cannot provide education to the large number of population that we have.

Dr. S. M. Kulkarni
20 Feb 2012

PPP model is a must for present Indian scenario. The negligence, in the past, towards quality education has led to this situation. And, even though we are capable, now we have to look towards foreign institutes to function here. In the present situation the regulatory bodies should focus on the quality of education. It is not possible in the government set up to bring required flexibility in the functioning of higher education (HE).

Irrespective of the model selected for PPP in HE, it is requested and suggested that the need of TRAINING OF THE FACULTY AT HIGHER EDUCATION should be given top priority. As a gesture a suitable act be passed on the lines of National Commission for Human Resources for Health (established under the National Commission for Human Resources for Health Act, 2011) and the Chairperson of such body should be a member of the General Council as ex-officio member. The General Council is supposed to support National Commission on Higher Education, to be formed under HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH BILL, 2011.
-Dr. S. M. Kulkarni

manoj kamra
20 Feb 2012

whatever be PPP model out of four models of Planning commission, CAG audit manual for PPP-2009 as well as PPP toolkit 2010 must be made mandatory for sanctioning such ppp projects.
In the absence of rigourous examination of PPP projects in regard to value of money, total realistic cost (not inflated cost as usual practice in PPP projects to extort money from public) , preaudit prior to signing to PPP agreement, RTI compliance of ppp agency , no ppp policy, ppp rules till date , PPP will become a means to extort money from public only WITHOUT SERVING PURPOSE.
It is surprising that experts are advocating PPP despite PPP rules 2011 , PPP policy 2011 in the drafting stage (not finalized stage). No expert in this article have thrown light on draft PPP policy 2011, draft ppp rules 2011 , so their opinion in favour of ppp seems to be blind favour of extortion of money in the name of PPP.
It is very shameful for india that as per RTI reply, in engineering education, there is no limit on number of attempts during graduation for becoming faculty nor there is any provision of disclosure of attempts in engineering education as in medical education (Dr. S.K. Khanna (ex. chairman AICTE) should suggest maximum permissible number of attempts during B.E. for appointing him as faculty in engineering education rather than blindly favouring ppp model .

Dr. ANAND KUMAR WAHI
20 Feb 2012

PPP is the best model in which private parties should invest and government bodies may run with reasonable return to the invester and nomination in the governing bodies.