CII, Planning Commission releases annual higher education report- ASHE 2012
11 Nov 2012

The “ASHE – Annual Status of Higher Education in States and UTs 2012” report jointly brought out by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Planning Commission was released at the “AICTE-CII University-Industry Congress  at the 4th Global Higher Education Summit.

Billed as the first attempt to critically evaluate and map the demand and supply side of higher education in India with more focus on industry perspective, the report provides data, facts and figures that would help stakeholders move away from supply-centric planning and focus on a more holistic approach that considers both supply and demand perspectives.

The report gives incisive insights into socio-demographic data, university and university level institutions, key higher education indicators, growth in higher education institutes and student enrolment, industry, employment scenario and current Initiatives and key challenges.

On the role of private sector in higher education, ASHE 2012 report says that the private participation in the education sector should be of quality and of great intent. Taking cue from the success of private involvement in education in the 11th Plan, the report says that private sector should be encouraged to establish larger and higher quality institutions in the 12th Plan. It has been proposed to re-examine the ‘not-for-profit’ status in higher education, so as to allow the entry of for-profit institutions in select areas, with the necessary vision to ensure quality and equity.

This report aims to be used by several stakeholders – Central and State agencies, State and local officials, business leaders, scholars and researchers and the general public – to formulate programs, apportion resources, monitor services, research issues and make informed decision.

Innovative methods to infuse more private capital in the higher education sector without changing its ‘non-for-profit’ status will also be evaluated. To provide private institutions access to long-term and low-interest rate debt, ‘infrastructure’ status should be given to higher education.

The report suggests that educational infrastructure companies should be permitted to build and lease physical facilities to academic institutions with lease revenues subject to the same tax treatment as housing finance companies. Educational trusts, societies and companies should be allowed to raise funds from the capital market by issuing bonds and shares without changing their tax status. FCRA provisions for investments should be relaxed to allow NRIs to invest in not-for-profit education. Education companies should be allowed tax exemptions in line with those enjoyed by IT companies.

In addition, support to private institutes should be given by the government in the following three ways, first, access to public student financial aid would be extended to accredited private institutions. Second, private institutions would also have access to research funding on an equal footing with public institutions and third, private institutions would benefit from various long-term quality enhancement efforts including enhanced use of technology and faculty development initiatives that are taken up during the Twelfth Plan.

The report also informs that new models of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in higher education will also be encouraged during the Twelfth Five Year Plan, particularly in the establishment of research and innovation institutions. Based on the Eleventh Plan experience of setting up Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and polytechnics in PPP mode, a framework will be put in place to encourage the spread and growth of PPP models, increase and improve resource utilization and enhance the quality of education in such institutions.

By Abhay Anand


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