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Private varsities set foot in Himachal

Himachal Pradesh is witnessing a mushrooming of private universities within a short span of time, with 10 universities already establishing their campuses in the state.

According to government officials, this could provide a headway for the central government’s proposal to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to 30 per cent by 2020.
Till 2008, Himachal Pradesh had just two private universities.

Even as Jaypee University of Information and Technology at Solan was the first private university to set up its base in 2002, albeit separate act in 2002, to facilitate greater participation by private stakeholders, Himachal Pradesh Private Universities (Establishment and Regulation) Act of 2006 was ratified.

With the Act ratified by the state legislative assembly, it has led to a steady flow of private players moving applications to set up their campuses.

Has Himachal taken a lead?
Putting to rest all the doubts being raised over the number of private universities setting up their bases in Himachal Pradesh, Principal Secretary (Education) Srikant Baldi maintains that private universities setting up their bases in the state was a step forward.

“For a state which has nearly 100 per cent gross enrolment at the elementary level, the GER drop to around 80 per cent for higher classes and around 70 per cent for senior classes. For the colleges and universities, the ratio drops to 18 per cent.

Even as enrolment in colleges and universities in Himachal is way above the national average of 12.5 per cent, it is way below the percentage in developed countries, which is around 50 per cent.”

Baldi maintained if the country had to progress, the skill requirement ought to be achieved.

The sill development has to come through enhanced enrolment at higher education level which could be achieved by private players being made the stakeholders in promoting higher education, he said.

Sandeep Kaura, assistant managing director of the Rayat-Bahra Group, maintains that out of the total student population of India which stands out to be 220 million, only 12 per cent enroll in colleges and universities, while the rest 88 per cent drop out.

The Rayat-Bahra group has set up a private university in the state.

“Further to achieve the target of 30% gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education by 2020 as given by the central government, more universities and colleges need to be set up. At present there are just 480 universities and in order to meet the GER by 2020, 1000 more universities need to be set up. Hence the role by private players becomes even more imperative.”

Kaura added that Himachal Pradesh being a hill station offered conducive environment for education, which could further help the state in promoting edu-tourism, as what was being done in other countries.

Challenges before the state
The mushrooming of private universities in the state is being monitored closely by the supporters and detractors alike.

The government officials maintain that enough steps has been taken to ensure smooth functioning by private universities.

The state government has introduced the Himachal Pradesh Private Universities (Regulatory Commission) Bill, 2010, in the legislative assembly for establishing a regulatory mechanism and ensuring appropriate standard of teaching, examination and protection of interest of students of the private universities in the state

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