Bangalore: India and China are battling to overtake one another in terms of economic growth in the coming decade. However, higher education enrollment is the principal indicator of economic growth as per World Bank statistics. When a nation significantly increases the number of university students it educates, that nation is likely to see an increase in economic growth in the decade that follows, reports William H Avery for the Economic Times. The same was witnessed in case of Japan and Korea in the early and late 1980s respectively.
26 percent of China's university-age population is enrolled in an institution of higher education, while it is just 18 percent in India. However, in 1990 and 2000 India had outdone China in university enrollment rates.
In India the IITs and IIMs are considered as the driving force of higher education, but they reach a ridiculously small section of students and higher education for the masses is not well delivered. On the other hand China provides quality and quantity in terms of higher education to the masses.So is India doing enough to catch up with China? In 1995 the Indian government had introduced a bill in the parliament to allow foreign universities to operate in the country. However, the Foreign Education Providers Bill, the succeeding bill to the 1995 bill, is still lying in the parliament even after almost two decades.
With India’s inability to rapidly build higher-education infrastructure, and refusal to let foreign universities in, the situation is grim. But, technology is helping India as American universities, like Harvard and MIT, have decided to put their courses online for free. Students can now access the internet and can take a class taught by international lecturers in big universities. The availability of free online content is a boon for Indian higher education.
If the availability of free online content is harnessed, a lot can be solved in India as many students in rural and urban areas can have access to world class education, which in turn can help in the economic growth of the nation.