Some object lessons

21 Oct

At the first India-US education summit that took place last week, the aim was to solicit American cooperation (read investment) in India’s higher education sector. The intent is praiseworthy but the action represents a lack of understanding of India’s problem and how the US can be made to realistically help. First, the problem, as enunciated by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal: to provide college education to about 30 million young people, India needs to build 1,000 universities and 55,000 colleges in the next 10 years. To solve the problem, the HRD ministry is reaching out to the US — to solicit investment in setting up foreign universities, to attract teaching talent and to set up collaborations with Indian counterparts.

 

 

First, some ground realities of how the higher education business works. The US higher education system owes its success to the quality of human resources it attracts. Walk the corridors of an Ivy League university and you see the best from across the world employed there. This is a business sector where the primary asset is quality human resources. The salary structure with the Sixth Pay Commission is not competitive with the commercial sector in India or US universities. India’s compensation structure is just not competitive to recruit global talent.

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