The present article explores the relationship between globalization and higher education in India. Although Indian higher education has quantitatively grown several times since independence but current level of GER is still lower than world average. There is also a wide gender and social disparity. GER of women, SC, ST and other marginal groups is far below the national average. The Indian higher education is not only struggling with the problem of accessibility but also with the problems of quality and equity. In spite of low GER Indian higher education system produces a large number of graduates that are unemployable, though there are mounting skill shortages in a number of sectors. Efforts are on to achieve GER of 30 by 2020 and also to ensure quality and equity. It has been accepted that government alone cannot meet this goal. Globalization promises major rewarding change to the higher education systems of the developed countries. Globalization has caused a major restructuring of the economy and has led to the emergence of private universities within a corporatized profit oriented framework in a big way. Education has turned into commodity which can be sold and bought at higher prices. Hence the relationship between globalization and higher education is bound to uncongenial in developing countries like India where huge masses live at social periphery. The present article examines promises and apprehensions of globalization of education and looks into global reforms in higher education and developing course of action in India KEY WORDS Globalization, Privatization and Higher education


India has experienced high rate of economic growth in the recent years. It has now become a major player in the global knowledge economy. A large pool of qualified manpower that is fed by its higher education system has played significant role in it. It is now widely accepted that higher education has been critical to India's emergence in the global knowledge economy. Yet, it is believed that various problems are plaguing the Indian higher education system. The major problems are related to accessibility, quality and equity. Over past sixty-five years, India has covered a long distance on the path of expanding the institutional capacity in higher education. In1950, the country had just 25 university-level institutions; this figure has gone up to 620, about 25 times increase. These include central universities (44), state universities (298), deemed universities (130) and private universities (148). The figures within brackets show the latest available UGC data on their number. The growth of degree colleges has been even larger, over 30-times by February 2012. The number of colleges has gone up from 700 to 27,053. (UGC, 2012) Out of these, 7,178 colleges are recognized by the UGC under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act and 5,936 colleges are eligible to receive development grants under Section 12(B) of the UGC Act. (UGC, 2011) According to a UGC statistics estimated 169.75 lakh of students are enrolled in higher education in 2011.The current level of GER1 in India stands at a figure of 18.8 and which is quite low compared to world average of 27 for all countries and 45 for developed countries. India plans to raise the GER from current level to 30 by the year 2020 (UGC Report, 2011). If India were to increase that figure of 12.4% to 30%, then it would need another 800 to one thousand universities and over 40,000 colleges in the next 10 years. Addressing a higher education summit organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said "We will need 800 new universities and 40,000 new colleges to meet the aim of 30 percent GER (gross enrolment ratio) by 2020. Government alone cannot meet this aim" (Gupta, 2012) In spite of low GER our higher education system produces a large number of graduates that are unemployable, though there are mounting skill shortages in a number of sectors. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has termed it a 'quiet crisis'. Industries routinely point towards huge skill shortages and are of the opinion that growth momentum may not be sustained unless the problem of skill shortages is addressed. The standards of academic research too are low and declining. An unwieldy affiliating system, inflexible academic structure, uneven capacity across subjects, eroding autonomy of academic institutions, low level of public funding, archaic and dysfunctional regulatory environment are some of its many problems. It is widely held that it suffers from several systemic deficiencies and is driven by populism, and in the absence of reliable data, there is little informed public debate. More than 35 years ago, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, while analyzing the crisis in Indian education pointed out that the 'grave failures in policy-making in the field of education require the analysis of the characteristics of the economic and social forces operating in India, and response of public policy to these forces' (Amartya Sen, The Crisis in Indian education, Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lectures, 10-11 March 1970). He emphasized that 'due to the government's tendency to formulate educational policies based on public pressure, often wrong policies are pursued'. Rather than pragmatism, it is populism, ideology and vested interests that drive policy. It seeks to achieve arbitrarily set goals that are often elusive and, more than that, pursued half-heartedly. The globalization promises to provide solution to some of the above problems especially access and quality. Both, accessibility and quality in higher education is below the desired level due to paucity of resources which is being planned to be tackled by opening doorway for foreign universities and promoting People Public participation (PPP) in higher education. Efforts are on to improve quality of higher education and to increase access in it as per needs and requirements of globalization. But at the same time it has been argued that the globalization has its own side effects leading to commercialization of education and threat to equity leading to further deprivation of poor and marginal groups in higher education. Globalization of education may lead to increased competition, better employment opportunities, capital flows, spread of technical knowhow etc. But it is a serious issue- How will the welfare state manage to cater the needs and aspirations of the common mass if globalization of education gets a strong and practical shape in India? (Kulkarni, 2011) Sincere and committed welfare state can use efforts of globalization of education to the benefits of common students through meaningful measures.


Globalization is expected to be a process through which free flow of ideas, people, goods, services and capital across the globe would lead to the integration of economies and societies. It is characterized by an accelerated flow of trade, capital, and information, as well as mobility of individuals, across geographical borders. It can also be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring at any distant place and vice versa. It is this construction of time-space compression that has given rise to popular notion of 'One-World' or 'Global Village. Globalization promises major rewarding change to the higher education systems of the developed countries. The higher education in developing and the underdeveloped countries is facing the scarcity of resource leading to problems of sustenance in terms of increase in access of students and quality of education. Developing countries often have to adjust willingly or unwillingly both to the quickening pulse of international change, and accordingly, reform on several fronts simultaneously, which may not be possible under the given resource status of higher education. Higher education today is no more constrained by geographical boundaries. Innovative forms of translocation and transnational education have become a possibility. Multi campus institutions, franchised institutions and learning centers providing university degree, off campus education, distance learning, internet based distance education, virtual universities merging of part studies to combine into a whole for obtaining national as well as international degrees are only few models as examples. As far as higher education is concerned, an enthused and well-informed student has umpteen choices, for the first time in the history of education, to access for a global marketplace. Yet, the matter of the fact is, this access remains only as availability. But who can reach it and how; and what alternative provisions are made for those who cannot afford to reach it are important questions to be answered by welfare states. Globalization can make significant contribution in improving living standards, health and education and Technology advancement, especially in the area of communication and computers in developing and under developed countries but there have been apprehensions expressed in terms of growing inequality in sharing the benefits of globalization. The questions are often raised whether fruits of globalization would reach the vast majority of common and deprived people of developing and under developed countries or it will further consolidate the disparity leading to threat to sustainable development of society. Major apprehensions of globalization are as follows: (i) Benefits of globalization to the different sections of the society, it is believed to be far uneven. (ii) Its role in creating greater social stratification and inequality  widening the gaps between the haves and have nots (iii) Its role in destabilizing and distorting the indigenous culture, tradition and values. (iv) Its role in alienating the youth from its own place by uprooting and at the same time not sure of providing a landing space. And (v) More than these, its role in facilitating the rich countries to grow richer by drawing the resources from the poor. Globalization will have far reaching consequences on Higher Education and it will have to face far-reaching challenges. According to the Spanish sociologist, Manuel Castells, one of the leading authorities on Globalization states, 'effects on the university will be more drastic than industrialization, urbanization and secularization combined. It is, the biggest challenge that the University has ever faced for more than a century and a half.' John Smyth argues 'the globalization of world capitalism has had a significant impact on higher education policy and produced changes in the sector. In particular, globalization has caused a major restructuring of the economy, and government has reacted within a corporatized technocratic framework to create new technology-based industries. This has created moves to reform higher education in order to produce the necessary technocrats and that when it fails, higher education will be the scapegoat.' (Smyth, 1995) It can be drawn from the major apprehension of globalization discussed earlier; globalization of higher education redistributes exclusion across countries and within the country. In their view, society splits into two types of people: those at the social core and those who hang on with their finger nails to the social periphery even in the world's richest economies. A recent estimate suggests that no more than 20 percent of students currently in higher education will be at the core of the rising Knowledge Economy. The remainder will be a subordinate social layer. This is not a recipe for social cohesion (Naeve, 2001). Societies on the fringe of the global economy  unconnected are the fashionable word  face exclusion even more devastating than their present difficulties (Naeve, 2001a). Two of the strategic and long-term questions that Globalization poses to the higher education system are: (i) Commodification - the use of knowledge as a purchasable and saleable good. (ii) Alternative providers with profit motive of higher education's landscape that are engaged in the transmission of knowledge using Information and Communication Technologies. Displacing and reinterpreting knowledge raise fundamental questions to the Universities, more so, in the area of autonomy and academic freedom. They also pose questions with regard to the very objectives of Higher Education system in terms of its ethical obligation to make knowledge freely available to those who seek for it. The apprehension is, that the globalization, may herald a basic change in the very role that the Universities play in the society. Defining universities simply as service providers and changing their responsibility to the society for the shorter gains, may in the long run, ruin the very objectives with which the universities were established.


The emergence of a global economy due to increased trade, investment and mobility of people and, more recently, work across borders has forced nation states to adapt their systems of higher education to the changed global realities. Rather than continuing with their inward looking policies, several countries are reshaping their systems of higher education for making them globally competitive. Pragmatism rather than ideology is driving this change. The United States of America has major plans for investment in higher education. The United Kingdom has injected new dynamism in the higher education sector through competition and incentives. China has undertaken a package of comprehensive reforms in higher education for over the past two decades. The government in China has declared education, science and technology to be the strategic driving forces of sustainable economic growth. Pakistan has embarked upon wide-ranging systemic reforms. Despite the fact that the United States has the finest system of higher education in the world, it had set up a commission to examine the future of higher education in September 2005, with a mandate to ensure that America remains the world's leader in higher education and innovation. While the report of the commission has been received and is being processed for implementation, the US government has already committed to invest USD134 billion in higher education over the next 10 years. In the United Kingdom, where higher education is primarily in the public sector, faced with problems of deteriorating standards due to inadequate funding and failing accountability, several innovations in financing, such as performance-based funding for teaching and research and portable students aid, and so on, were introduced over the past decade. This helped the UK higher education system to become one of the best systems of higher education in the world again. In a highly sensitive and bold decision, the UK government has now allowed the universities to compete for students and charge variable fees, bringing an end to the regulated fee regime in the UK. Higher education reforms in China were initiated along with wider economic reforms to become a market economy in the year 1978. Prior to that, higher education was in the public sector. There was no tuition fee. The government even took care of living expenses of the students. Since then, the system of higher education has radically changed. The concept of cost-sharing and cost recovery was introduced in the early years of reforms. Tuition fees have now been made compulsory. The higher education institutions in China were expected to diversify their revenue sources and, therefore, allowed to have affiliated enterprises (Agrawal, 2009). Apart from increased support from alternative sources, higher education received increased financial allocations from the government. Thus, in spite of massive expansion in enrolment, average funding per student did not go down. Through a national legislation in 2002, China proactively involved the private sector to contribute and invest in higher education. This accelerated the growth. To nurture excellence, a selective approach in funding was adopted. In 1993, special financial allocations were provided for China's top 100 institutions to upgrade them to international standards. In the year 1998, an even higher-level funding was provided to nine top universities to make them world class. Australia initiated comprehensive reforms in higher education in 2003. Government funding was significantly enhanced along with increased provision for subsidized loans and scholarships for students. The reform package included areas as diverse as teaching, workplace productivity, governance, student financing, research, cross-sectoral collaboration and quality (Commonwealth of Australia, 2003). Apart from the advanced countries, many developing countries took up ambitious programmes to reform their higher education sector. It was realized that though primary and secondary education is important, it is the quality and size of the higher education system that will differentiate a dynamic economy from a marginalized one in the global knowledge based economy. Based on the recommendation of the Task Force for Improvement of Higher Education, neighboring Pakistan replaced its University Grants Commission (found ineffective) by a proactive Higher Education Commission that initiated wide-ranging systemic reforms in 2002. Public funding for higher education in India was increased significantly from Rs 3.8 billion in 2002 to Rs 33.7 billion in 2007. To bring in a degree of transparency and accountability, recurrent funds were allocated amongst universities on the basis of a funding formula. To address faculty related issues, changes in the salary structure of academics under the tenure track system were made. Salaries of active research scholars were increased significantly. Stringent requirements for the appointment and promotion of faculty members and strict quality control of PhD programmes were put in place. The reform programmes also addressed the issue of access to quality teaching, learning and research resources (Agarwal, 2009). According to a recent Economic Times Survey, experiences of many countries like Singapore, China, the Gulf countries and Israel regarding quality education provided by foreign educational institutions during the last ten to fifteen years were found to be far from satisfactory. Despite providing substantial cash subsidies and land at a very cheaper than market price, soft loans, housing access etc., reputed institutions such as Chicago Booth School, John Hopkins Centre and Warwick University- to mention a few- which had set up teaching shops in Singapore have packed up and left for home. Despite stringent regulations which enable domestic supervision of foreign institutions set up in China, there is internal criticism on foreign universities offering crappy courses. The 'knowledge cities' and 'academic zones' in Gulf countries are so expensive even by international standards that these can be maintained only by the uninterrupted supply of and demand for black gold. Israel which welcomed foreign educational agencies with loose regulations had to drive them all out on account of the low quality of services provided (Quoted in Editorial, Peoples Dialogue of Education, May& Oct.2011). There is also little evidence to support the claim that the value of human capital (skills, knowledge, etc.) will continue to rise even as leading transnational companies restructure their global operations to deliver innovative ideas at the lowest cost. This approach fails to understand how emerging economies, including China and India are leap-frogging decades of technological development in the West to compete for high-skilled, high-value work, including research and development. In the early decades of the twenty-first century the rise of the high-skill, low-wage workforce may become a feature of the developed as well as the developing economies. (Brown, 2008)


According to the survey 'Higher Education: Free degrees to fly' reported in Economist (February26th-March 4th, 2005, pp63-65), higher education is already a global business. The Higher Education provisioning is now globalized and in many ways, a commercialized affair and the way that the control of the State on it has vastly diminished. According to Andreas Schleicher of OECD, a Paris based 'Think Tank' the number of students studying abroad was statistically negligible two decades ago. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the growth is now soaring; 2 million university students-approaching 2% of the world's total of around 100 million studying outside their home country in 2003 (cited in Higher Education in the above article in Economist). Since the late 1990s the higher education market is growing by 7 per cent a year. The Economist Survey on higher education further indicates that annual fee income alone is estimated at $ 30 billion. While private profit seeking companies have entered the education business, even government-controlled universities are seeking independence from governmental authority. However, many countries including India continue to control the fee structure of their universities causing financial stress to foreign students, who are generally made to pay much higher fees than local students. This has resulted in many universities openly soliciting entry of foreign students. To facilitate this process they have even tailored their courses to international requirements besides appointing agents abroad and publicizing the offers widely in the media. Hence a University is no longer a place where students apply to study. Universities are now actively pursuing students, especially foreign ones using a wide variety of strategies to market their courses. The student is now the customer or client. With globalization, Universities are spreading their reach beyond geographical and political borders. The British, Australian and American Universities are setting up campuses in Singapore, China and the Gulf. Universities realize that they can examine many more students than they can teach. Hence, many of them are collaborating with other institutions or franchisees to teach their courses under their brand name without getting involved in the direct business of imparting the education. Higher education has received a lot of attention in India over the past few years. There are four reasons for this recent focus. First, country's weak higher education system is being blamed for skill shortages in several sectors of economy. Second, reservation quotas in higher education institutions, particularly the more reputed ones that provide access to high status and best-paid jobs became a highly divisive issue, central to the policy of inclusive growth and distributive justice, and hence politically very important. Third, in the backdrop of the first two developments, it began to be argued that the country would not be able to sustain its growth momentum and maintain competitiveness unless problems with higher education are fixed. Last, demand for higher education continues to outpace the supply due to growing population of young people, gains in school education, the growing middle class and their rising aspirations. It is widely believed that technological advances and a shift in demography provide India with a window of opportunity to productively engage its huge pool of human resources, and become a leader in both the rapidly expanding sectors of services and highly skilled manufacturing. This would, however, require revamping the higher education sector. Hence many steps have been taken to augment supply, improve quality and fix many of the problems faced by higher education. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) that was set up to examine the higher education sector (amongst other things) made several useful and important recommendations. The Government of India has increased funding significantly during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. Many new institutions have been planned and some of them are already operational. There are many good ideas in the plan document. All these efforts, however, appear to be somewhat disconnected. Some even appear to be at cross-purposes with each other. Several suggestions appear to be merely impressionistic views of individuals, rather than being supported by data and research. Overall, these efforts do not give a sense of an integrated reform agenda for Indian higher education. And in absence of credible data and good analysis, the media continues to perpetuate and exacerbate certain fallacies and inconsistencies. With ambiguity in defining its purpose and vagueness about its quality, debate on higher education is usually full of rhetoric. For the higher education sector whose main purpose is to train people with strong analytical skills, it is ironical that its own self-analysis is replete with homilies and platitudes, rather than strong evidence (Kapur and Crowley, 2008). Institutions of higher education today are an integral organ of the state and economy. They are embedded in the history and culture of a nation and are shaped by its contemporary realities, ideologies and vested interests. India's large size, long history and diverse culture and the complicated nature of Indian polity and policy process make Indian higher education a very complex enterprise. In the recent past, an attempt has been made to work out the possibility of regulating the entry of the foreign universities. In doing so, UGC has recommended that foreign universities to offer their programmes in India; they should be accredited in their respective country; degree awarded to the students should be valid for India as well as in the country where degree-giving institution is located; There should be reciprocal arrangements for Indian Universities to operate in those countries from where the institutions/programs have come to India. There are three basic assumptions behind foreign university bill. One of these assumptions is that there are universal yardsticks for assessing the quality of higher education .The other is that Indian higher education is, by and large, inferior to western higher education. It is also presumed that greater approximation with western education could improve the quality of Indian education. It has been argued that foreign universities would provide quality education to Indian students through off-campus centers and collaborative arrangements and indirectly by instilling competitive spirit in Indian institutions. Our universities could not develop curricula for various disciplines on the basis of our social context, needs and requirements. In most of the cases we borrowed or adopted western curricula in order to achieve quality education. It is ironical that we have developed a colonial mindset that forces us to look into our education system in isolation, keeping it away from indigenous social, cultural and economic context. This has arisen from implicit faith in the universality of efficacy of western education is a legacy of colonialism. The appropriations of western or foreign models have destroyed the innovative spirit of higher education completely. Culture of borrowing or adopting knowledge and its sources prevailed in our education system at all levels in general and higher education in particular. Those few involved in alternative and innovative practices hardly get support from the establishment. The opening of foreign educational institutions will never be able to insure quality enhancement if importance of our social context is negated. In fact education has hardly any meaning apart from social and cultural context. Creativity in higher education thrives through research which involves diversification, localization and internalization of intellectual enquiry. While research is enriched through assimilation of knowledge from diverse sources, it degenerates through transplantation or imitation of external models. One of the possible reasons for the backwardness of modern Indian education is its failure to integrate the insights of western systems with indigenous knowledge systems. The attempt to improve the quality of Indian education by importing foreign educational packages would be a remedy worse than the disease. Increasing the number of institutions or seats alone would also not ensure greater access. Even for the most sought-after engineering courses, there are plenty of vacant seats under the self-financing streams. For example, about one third of the total number of seats in self-financing engineering colleges in Tamilnadu was not filled up during the last year, as the fees were unaffordable What thus we need is equitable access, which foreign educational providers or private institutions will not provide, more so as there is no cap on the fees that can be levied by these institutions. Provisions for reservation of seats are either not there or not implemented, which would tend to strengthen the existing iniquities in Indian higher education. The foreign providers would also wean away a large chunk of bright students from Indian institutions. The exodus of such students could only lead to academic impoverishment and deterioration of Indian institutions. But expansion and modernization of Indian higher education requires huge public investment. The requirement of inclusiveness further demands massive public investment. With government expenditure on education as a whole pegged at 3.5 per cent and on higher education alone at 0.4 per cent of the GDP, public expenditure on education by western standards is abysmally low in India. Any attempt at improvement in access and quality cannot be achieved just by entry of foreign universities and opening of private state universities but it can be achieved by increasing public expenditure on higher education. Public expenditure on education should be increased to at least 6 per cent of the GDP, of which 25 per cent should be set apart for higher education. There are no quick-fix alternatives to adequate public investment in education..  


It is not so easy to make a positive perception about globalization of higher education in India and other developing countries but many developed countries see it as an opportunity to expand their educational services. Globalization will increase the tendency of commercialization, privatization, and capitalization of higher education progressively leading to improvement in quality and increase in access of privileged students but such quality and access will have hardly any meaning for a vast majority of common students who are solely dependent on the public education of the welfare state as they cannot afford private education. In the words of Amrtya Sen 'quality has no meaning without equality'. The global curricula and skills developed on that basis will not be able to make significant contribution to the developing countries like India as they badly require their indigenous system of higher education to be strengthened in a way that suits to the needs and aspirations of the masses. Developing countries are still very far from adjusting to new international order. In fact they need to create own social and economic order and force the developed countries in search of extended market to join them. The huge deprived masses in India and other developing countries lead a different kind of life where internationalism has little role to play. They need strong educational and economic support of the welfare state to fall back upon. The state cannot allow corporate business houses and foreign and corporate education system to widen the gap in higher education on the pattern of school education which has taken strong roots in India. Nobody except poor go to schools run by the state. The globalization can lead to similar situation in higher education in developing countries until an alternative social and economic order is created by developing countries.


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