Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Thursday said the Centre seeks greater private sector participation and plans to increase the number of Institutes of Eminence (IoEs) from the existing 20 to 50.
While addressing the Ficci higher education summit, Pokhriyal said the government values private players and would encourage them for value creation in education, besides conferring the IoE status to 25 select private institutions, and as many state-owned universities. IoEs enjoy academic, administrative and financial autonomy to compete and establish themselves at the global level.
At present, 20 institutions (10 private and 10 public) have IoE status, but at least three of them were non-starters. IoE status allows select institutions to enjoy autonomy and are out of the regular purview of the education regulator. They have been also allowed to open foreign campuses.
While private institutes will enjoy autonomy, public institutes in the list as of now will get assistance of ₹1,000 crore, each, for a period of five years to improve their performance both in India and abroad. The minister, however, did not elaborate on the funding for the extended plan and by when IoE status will be conferred to 30 more varsities.
The government is trying to curb brain drain and will support developing India into an education and R&D hub, he said. The government aims to take the higher education gross enrolment ratio to 50%.
Ficci urged the ministry to allow private institutions to borrow from the higher education funding agency (HEFA) for their infrastructure needs. HEFA has been catering to the needs of state-owned institutions. Ficci president Uday Shankar said the government should provide a level playing field and underlined that private higher education institutions should be allowed to borrow from HEFA.
“The government must set up a task force to bring down the rate of interest on student loans to nominal 4% or so from the current 10% to 14% fixed under the study in India programme. A clear vision and strategy should be developed to select 100 higher educational institutions as world-class institutions,” he added.