Regulating Higher Education In Goa?


In today’s Navhind Times, Dr. Nandkumar Kamar, a noted and genuine scholar from Goa argues the “need” to “regulate” the higher education space. I think the whole argument of regulating education is completely misplaced.

A DOCTORATE in any subject for Rs 2 lakhs, an MPhil in languages, natural or social sciences for Rs 1 lakh, any post-graduate degree for little less than Rs 50,000

Why would someone buy a Doctorate for Rs. 2 lakh instead of spending 4 years? The incentives are simple, you get a degree in so little time. Certainly thats illegal but people buy it because it works. The reason such fake degree manufacturers exist and flourish has two very important factors behind it.

Firstly, the acute shortage of educational resource. Our universities are abysmally equiped to meet demands and aspiration of our students. 4 lakh students appear for IIT-JEE, 8000 get through. The remaining 392000 students are not suckers. Most of them do deserve something equivalent to IITs but they dont get into it. They then try to opt for other opportunities, including buying out a degree.

Secondly, it works! The people who pass out from an institutes like Goa Engineering college, are not really in practice smarter than someone who has done a good course from NIIT or SEED. Both of them are considered as equivalent in Industry. In fact I can show examples where people with absolutely not engineering background have fared far better in real world than those who have degrees. Clearly, the fake degree is useless and doest make any value addition to individual, but then neither does the real degree.

Before blaming the mushrooms of educational institution promising quick and sure degree, we must question if an institution like Goa University is any better. Instead, Goa University is run by public funds. It is a complete farce. It is just a government authorized degree sale center where degrees are cheap but one has to only spend time in there. That is why people prefer to buy degrees instead of earning them.

Though Dr. Kamat argues that Goa needs more laws and regulations in Education field in order to prevent these malpractices, the solution he suggest doesnt go well with me.

The trade of selling degrees is booming because the government has not shown any practical interest to amend and arm the Goa University Act, 1984 suitably to bar competing profit-making private interests in higher education.

What scares me is that several intellectuals seem to be opposed to the idea of institutes making profit by providing education as a service. The taboo word being “profit”. I believe that India’s education policy is not only harmful for growth of private educational institutes but the degree with which government has controlled and regulated education and higher education is just scandalous.

Government has failed completely in building system of education which will give wise man to society. While it is hiding its failure by painting glossy fake pictures of India, it has prevented other people in building any alternate system. They have restricted access to the most vital resource of the country as well as an individual. No wonder the individuals find work around to get it.

The sorry state of higher education in India can be understood from Atanu’s posts.

Of the ten percent who do get post-secondary education in India’s around 300 universities (comprising of 17,000 colleges), their results are disheartening. India produces around two and a half million college graduates, including 400 thousand engineers annually. But the quality is so poor that only a quarter of them are actually unemployable. Stark statistics reveal the oversupply of raw graduates and the under supply of unemployable graduates. Infosys, an IT giant, last year sorted through 1.3 million applicants only to find around two percent were qualified for jobs, according to a recent report in The New Yorker.

The remaining 98% one must remember are mostly passed out from reputed institutions across the country with good marks spending 3-4 years of graduation. But what they have learned in those 4 years is as equivalent to getting a fake degree by paying 2 lakhs.

If we take Goa’s case, where industrialization is not a common phenomenon, if you want a better future you need to get out of this place. If you need a government job one has to show proof that he has so and so degree and pay a bribe to minister. Minister takes care of everything else. What you have learned, your competence in the subject hardly matters. Obviously buying a degree is much easier and better than earning it.

I think Goa has good potential to become an education hub for the country. Certainly laws can be passed and committees can be set up. But it should be to free education from Government control and make it more open and accessible. Once you allow private colleges to compete freely with government one’s, the only differentiating aspect will be the usefulness of degree awarded. The attempts to improve this usefulness will lead to improved quality of education.

What applies to India generally applies to Goa, but I feel Goa can always take up pioneering work because it is a small state. Atanu Dey’s Policy brief on the topic is an eye opener and I wonder why our policy makers cant accept it.

Education forms a very important feature and pre-requisite for economic and social development. A more and better educated society is likely to prosper and be peaceful than others. For this excellence should be the goal of system. A governmental setup can not struggle for excellence, it needs to happen by letting the entrepreneurs of our country invest in education. Let the Tatas , Ambanis start universities, also let the educational start-ups come up with sufficient funds. Government should act only as a facilitator and not a controller.

Who can put this in better words if not Mr. Arun Shourie?

he first thing to do is to stop counter-positioning primary, universal education against higher education. We need both. We can afford both. Second, we must see both — the threat as well as the opportunity: the threat that we may lose our best minds at an even faster rate than the rate at which we have been losing them in the past decades; on the other side, the opportunity that we can be educators to the world.Third, to ward off the threat and to tap into the opportunity, we require the same sort of measures. To arrest and reverse the alarming deterioration of standards in most of our institutions of higher learning. To ensure that in regard to both – students as well as faculty – merit, performance here and now, alone counts. To ensure that rewards are strictly commensurate with performance.

And resources. A large proportion of these will have to come from the government – for instance, private entrepreneurs just do not have the long horizons that basic research requires. Equally, government alone will just not have enough resources for this sector. Thus, one service that finance ministers can do is to give the most generous incentives and tax-breaks for industry to invest in education and in R&D. For every trifling misuse, a Manipal will come up.
And the resources have to be defrayed not just on equipment – that is what is done ever so often: and by the time the underpaid, under-motivated faculty learn to exploit the equipment to its full potential, the equipment is obsolete. A good proportion of the resources have to be set apart for making salaries and allowances of faculty and researchers and their work-environment attractive enough for them to forgo careers in private industry and to choose instead to be in universities and research institutions. [Read Full at Atanu Dey’s Blog]

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3 thoughts on “Regulating Higher Education In Goa?

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. Though the Government in Goa wants to control the field of education, in most cases in other states it is the ministers who operate the private educational institutions themselves and make huge profits themselves.

    People who genuinely want to open an institute dedicated to providing exceptional quality education find themselves caught in the web of permissions necessary from the Ministry of Education, Local Panchayat etc. In Goa, it is now a superhuman achievement to get permission to open a school, or an institute inspite of being a qualified and experienced individual from the field of education, whereas people with no background, experience, or a decent education have been able to open schools and institutes due to good contacts and deep pockets!!!

    This must change if Goa is to see a change for the better in the near future. I agree that government regulation is not the answer. Perhaps private institutions can form a confederation that serves to benchmark the quality of education provided. This can work in tandem with the government to improve the entire educational scenario in Goa. We can’t have the government force their whims and fancies down our throats!!!!

    I hope more people take up the task of educating Goa.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for your comments. Your comments perfectly resonate with me. It is not that experts have not proposed solutions, the government is unwilling to change things because an ignorant and uneducated population helps them get elected again and again.

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