The business of education

Dr HC Pande

Lucknow: The U.P. Government has just come out with a proposed umbrella act to ensure that the standards of higher education are not diluted with the expansion of the private universities.The act does express good intentions of the powers-that-be,but the proposed umbrella is in reality a parasol which may provide relief from the summer sun but in no case withstand the monsoon rains,of greed and academic deceit, coming down on this sector of higher education.
The act misses the focal point by the proverbial mile. The focus is profit motive of these businesses running under the garb of private universities.Education today is considered a no-risk business with assured dividends in the form of,not enlightened graduates,but hard cash.Private university only means privately funded university,for knowledge is not anyone’s monopoly and objectives of a university can not be private.The objectives have to be in national interest.The role of a university is not only to equip the students with a storehouse of knowledge and techniques but also instill in them a sense of commitment for the betterment of society as a whole.With the university objective,of this class of institutions,centered on profits,everything else,social or otherwise ,is thrown out of the window.
Day in and day out we find the news papers full of advertisements from this breed of universities offering a whole spectrum of courses from liberal arts to engineering to medicine and to whatever else remains.The standard sales pitch is that degrees are guaranteed within the set span of time.Easy admission,easy graduation and the degree of your choice.The hard fact is,that with a very few exceptions,these universities have,at best,skeleton faculty,poor libraries and even poorer laboratories.Yes,the buildings are high and the fees higher.And,for the high fees, they deliver to the student,a piece of printed paper,and,into the university coffers,a sackful of cash.
The central point of control is thus,checking the greed of the sponsors by making it mandatory to have both the financial and the academic audit by reputed as well as government approved,firms and academic bodies.University accounts as also the details of the establishment have to be in public domain.A university is not a private limited company!
Would this check be possible with the increasingly powerful education mafia around?Only time will tell.

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