India is facing a crisis around access to good college and university education. Although there has been an enormous expansion in higher education in India over the past 30 years – the proportion of those attending college or university has increased from 6% in 1983 to 18% in 2014 – there is still a huge problem around quality.
The Indian government is aware of this situation and in 2013 launched a new higher education improvement programme. Currently 18% of Indian youth aged 18-21 are enrolled in university. The government aims to increase this to 30% by 2020, which will mean increasing the number of university places from the current 26 million to roughly 40 million.
Between 1983 and 2013, the number of engineering colleges in India grew by 20% each year. This meant the number of trained academic staff needed to increase by 30 times over the same period in order to cater for the rise in the number of students studying engineering.
But in practice, academic staff numbers only increased twofold. Private college management committees responded to this situation by hiring teachers who lacked the required qualifications and professional experience.
Although the Indian government decrees that universities must be not-for-profit, corruption is rife in the sector, with private colleges often asking students to pay cash donations before they start their course.
There are only seven Indian institutions in the top 400 in the 2015 QS World University Rankings and none in the top 100. India arguably does not contain a single world-class university.