New Delhi, Oct 8 (UNI) Enabling eight million more students to enter the portals of quality higher education in the next five years is part of an ''ambitious'' plan authorities are putting together, a Parliamentary panel was told today.
More universities, more colleges and more funds to existing institutions are on the cards to improve Indians' access to quality higher education during the 11th five year plan, officials said.
Higher education 2007-12 figured at a meeting of the Consultative Committee of Parliament relating to the Human Resource Development Ministry chaired by HRD Minister Arjun Singh.
In a key departure from the past, the Planning Commission has been requested to subject approval of State Plans to their doing their bit for higher education, officials said.
The Centre plans to expend some Rs 85,500 crores during the 11th five year plan-- a ninefold increase over the 10th Plan-- requiring Rs 255,000 crores from States.
''The Planning Commission has been requested in the matter and response is awaited,'' a spokesman for the HRD Ministry said.
Higher education enrollment in India estimated at ten per cent of 18-23 age group is relatively low compared with development nations. Authorities hope to raise it to 15 per cent by 2012.
In real numbers, officials say, some 12 million Indians currently attend colleges or universities. The idea is to raise the number to 20 million, including two million through open or distance learning modes.
An HRD statement said the Committee was told that new Higher Education initiatives are focused on access, equity and quality.
It said the HRD Minister briefed the members on his Ministry's proposals discussed in the full meeting of the Planning Commission.
Singh said the proposed initiatives won't be ready for implementation until the formal approvals of the Planning Commission and the National Development Council.
Members were told that while the 10th Plan outlay for higher education, including technical education, was about Rs 9,500 crores, the Ministry hoped to get ''an outlay several times higher'' for its 11th Plan proposals.
Its goal: to increase higher education Gross Enrolment Ratio from 10 per cent now to 15 per cent by 2012 with improved quality and greater inclusiveness, the statement said.
Members were told that States' share in Plan outlay being roughly four times the Central plan outlay, co-opting States to contribute substantially would be critical to achieving the goals.
Members were told that the Central government has approached the State governments to suggest alternative locations for new Central universities, some of which are intended to be world class universities.
Singh cited several proposals intended to get States to allocate higher resources to colleges and universities, while encouraging excellence in 370 districts with low enrollments.
Also being planned is higher assistance to State universities and colleges, including 150 State universities and 6,000 colleges not covered so far.
Also on cards, Members were told are a Tribal University, a Workers' Technical University and medical and engineering faculties in Central universities.
Strides are also contemplated in Technical, Management, Information Technology, Polytechnic and other education.
Members pointed out that spending 6 per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product on education was essential to implementing such initiatives. They suggested encouraging students to earn while they learn and ending rural-urban resource gaps.
The participants included Lok Sabha members Chinta Mohan, Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, Rajendrasinh G. Rana, Dr Vallabhbhai Kathiria, Bhavana P Gawali, Haribhau Jawale and Babulal Marandi and Rajya Sabha members Raashid Alvi, Prof P J Kurien, Kanimozhi, Krishna Lal Balmiki and Dr Ram Prakash.