U-turn for India

June 21, 1996

The new Indian government has reversed the policy of its predecessor and stopped further privatisation of higher education. Cuts in funding will be restored and a bill to overcome the constitutional bar on setting up private universities is to be allowed to lapse.

However, steps which many universities and colleges have already taken to generate income from private sources - including sharp fee increases and consultancy schemes for industry - will be retained.

Education experts have reacted with scepticism to the plans and argued that the kind of resources needed to sustain, let alone expand, the vast higher education system are simply not available.

The new government's intentions are already being tested. As admissions to the next academic session start this month, there are reports of shortages of places in most universities leading to demands for new colleges. Delhi University is said to be short of nearly 20,000 places even after admitting some 35,000 students in undergraduate classes.

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