Private Universities' Participation in Open and Distance Learning for Enhanced Access to Higher Education Among Underserved in India

Private Universities' Participation in Open and Distance Learning for Enhanced Access to Higher Education Among Underserved in India

Akhilesh Kumar Pandey (Government of Madhya Pradesh, India) and Syed Mohammad Haider Rizvi (Government of Madhya Pradesh, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2624-7.ch009
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It is now well recognised and understood that the higher education is one of the important components in accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations for the countries. However this important sector continues to remain a matter of concern in India primarily because of supply demand gaps, poor quality of teaching-learning, disparities in access and constraints on research & innovation. The conventional mainstream systems of education are able to serve a very small segment of the society. Alongside, new demands of education are fast emerging from the working class and who are away from the centre of activities. The scarce financial allocations from the Government are not able to meet the demand of education. Such a scenario threatens the sustained high growth of the Indian economic engine. The advent of private sector and the opening of private universities and other institutions for higher and professional education has now emerged as important factors that are, now, running sizeable number of professional degree programmes particularly management and engineering and accounts for 59% of all the tertiary enrolments in India. Despite a lot of scepticism about the role of private sector, there has been a policy thrust for private sector's participation in higher education. This paper discusses the needs of private universities and their roles in making access of higher education in masses. The authors have tried to explore the roles of vast network of private universities in expansion of open and distance learning in accordance with the issues and challenges.
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The illiterate of the 21 century will not be those who cannot read and write,but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. - Alvin Toffler 1928


2. History And Development Of Higher Education

With its internationally renowned centres of higher learning like Nalanda and Takshshila, Vikramskila (Bihar), Vallabhi (Kathiawad), Kanchi (Tamilnadu) and Nadia (Banal) India has a rich history of Higher Education. The systems of higher education were quite well developed even in ancient India in the form of Gurukuls. However, such systems were largely based on human urge for religious enlightenment and served the educational pursuits of a very privileged section of the society. Modern systems of Higher Education largely geared up by the economic policies of the Government have their roots in the colonial and post colonial period. The successive five year plans of the Government have influenced the growth of Higher Education in India. As the forces of globalisation are shaping the policies of national economies across the world, Indian higher education has been reorienting its policies to be internationally competitive.

During the British regime, the period 1835-1852 is marked by a few colleges in different places in the country including colleges of engineering and medicine. University at Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras have been established in 1857. The first Indian education commission under W.W. Hunter’s Chairmanship was constituted to deal various aspect of education including university education. After the education policy of 1913, almost all provinces were blessed with Universities. Banaras Hindu University in 1916 and Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College at Aligarh in 1920 now popularly known as Aligarh Muslim University were the first in the country to be established in tune with the needs of modern education. Later on, university also started functioning at Mysore, Hyderabad and Patna.

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