India poised for explosive growth in higher education

Manish Shah is the former president of Midwest Law Printing in Chicago. He also worked at Intel, PwC and Motorola. He has an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a MS in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology. He can be reached at

By Manish Shah
The numbers are staggering. Over 550 million Indians are under the age of 25. Currently, 14 million students enroll for higher education and this number is expected to grow to 45 million by 2020. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, to enroll just 30 percent of its potential students, India will need an additional 600 universities and 35,000 colleges in the next 12 years.

Kapil Sibal, the Minister in charge of education, has introduced new bills to overhaul the higher education system. These bills include changes to the accreditation process, penalties for fraudulent providers and rules under which foreign universities would be allowed to operate in India. The bill, which permits the entry of outside universities, could be voted on in Parliament’s next budget session. This bill stipulates that foreign schools would have to deposit a start-up fund of $11 million. In addition, the foreign schools will be restricted from making any profit on the Indian branch.

While this impending bill may deter foreign schools from establishing a campus and conferring degrees in India, they have already started collaborating with Indian schools. The types of collaboration include twinning and faculty and staff exchange programs to enhance curriculum design. According to a report on collaborative arrangements  commissioned by the UK India Education Research Initiative (UKERI), there are 143 Indian institutions and 161 foreign education providers engaged in collaboration. The total number of collaborations is 230 and the total number of programs that are collaboratively delivered is 641.

For example, ISB has partnerships with Kellogg School of Management, the Wharton School, and the London Busi-ness School. Similarly, the Indian Institute of Manage-ment-Bangalore and Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad have collaborated with the Fuqua School of Business.

For a US school that wants to enter the Indian higher education market, there are several positives. India is the number one English-speaking country in the world. Also, there is a huge market comprising of millions of students, which is mostly untapped. India faces a serious quality problem that can be ad-dressed by the US schools. A very small percentage of the higher education institutions such as the elite Indian Institutes of Technology and the Institutes of Management offer education that is at par with the US schools. Majority of India’s 480 public universities and more than 25,000 undergraduate colleges are mediocre.

The Indian students also will benefit from partnerships between Indian and foreign universities. The joint programs will be of higher quality, will have international focus and will be recognized globally.

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