Fixing Indian higher education is the ideal way to rescue students

OP-ED in LIVE MINT 16th March 2022

The pandemic & now the Ukraine war has once again highlighted the need to fix & improve India’s higher education system….not just fulfil the swelling demand, but also reform the entire sector & empower human resources

Indian students going abroad for education is not a new phenomenon. enrolling in a foreign university for higher education is a well-accepted path across india. besides exposure, foreign universities provide high-quality education and often also job assurance, and importantly, it typically helps elevate the social as well as economic status of the family. this multitude of benefits makes foreign education attractive and lucrative in the long run. however, at times like the covid pandemic or the current war situation in ukraine, students stand at a loss. we have witnessed the plight of indian students who were stranded in ukraine. two years earlier, india undertook one of its largest rescue operations from china after the onset of the covid pandemic. in both these situations, students had to suffer on educational, economic, mental health and physical fronts. the abrupt discontinuation of foreign education takes a severe toll on students. but we must ponder why students in such large numbers prefer to go abroad for education.

Inadequate education facilities in India: According to United Nations Population prospects, India is home to the largest number of young adults (aged 18 to 23) worldwide. Our education system simply does have the capacity to cater to this demand. Take medical education, for instance. On an average, 1.5 million students compete in the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for around 100,000 seats in the country. Only a few thousand manage to get a seat in a government-run medical college. The remaining aspirants are forced to explore foreign universities. There are only 88,120 seats for MBBS students in the entire country, half of them in the private sector. Similarly, there are just 27,498 seats for dentistry in India. Additionally, for many aspiring students, cost is a major hindrance. Again, take the case of medical education. The cost of private medical education over 5 years

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