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India – Repositioning for world class education and excellence

During his budget speech 29 February, the Indian Finance minister among a number of measures announced the creation of a new Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), backed by a budget of around 1.3 billion Euro (100 billion rupees).

Enrolment in India’s higher education system has starkly increased and there is only indication for its continued expansion, being forecast to comprise the worlds biggest college student population, the student body counting 33.3 million in 2014-15. In a race to keep up with rising student numbers, stay competitive on the global stage, and prepare students for a highly dynamic economy, HEFA will function as a non-profit with the mission to financially enable improvements in institutional infrastructures, focusing on top national educational bodies.

Apart from HEFA benefitting students seeking loans and improving the financing system, it was announced that an enabling regulatory structure ‘will be provided to 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world class’ teaching and research facilities. A detailed scheme for the initiative is in the making and Institutions selected are yet to be announced. Counter to previous policies, the initiative now also encompasses private institutions to access state funding. Notably the new universities will not be bound to Universities Grants Commission’s (UGC), providing them with greater flexibility in curricular and fee choices.
It had also been announced that a number of further schools for specially talented students (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas), multi-skill development centres, as well as a rural literary scheme will be established. The Indian express points out, that how government schools, country wide will be fostered to provide quality education is not apparent, indicating a loss of momentum for the Right to Education scheme (RTE) established in 2012.

The Indian government seems to increasingly signal backing, including funding, for a national strategy towards establishing and advancing the qualitative character of their higher education, responding to an ever increasing demand for access to academia capable of promoting skill sets equipped for a modern Indian economy and the global stage. 

Budget 2016-17 presented in Parliament 
The Hindu- highlights of budget
ICEF Monitor