Late President Dr APJ Kalam had said education should be available to all for India to become an economic powerhouse by 2020. And keeping this development in mind, the government had opened doors for private universities to establish schools of learning and development, almost two decades back. We spoke to Dr (Prof) Mridula Dwivedi, who taught in a private university, to understand how private universities contribute in empowering the young Indians.
Dr Dwivedi did her PhD degree from IIT Kanpur in 2003 and spent 10 years teaching students UK degree programmes in India. Currently on a break from her academic career to pursue her love for traveling, Dr Dwivedi answers some frequently asked questions.
What is the status of private universities in India?
The private sector education has certainly grown by leaps and bounds. We are already in a phase of consolidation rather than expansion I believe.
The Indian mindset is about studying in old and more recognised universitiies. What is the reaction to these new private universities?
I think it is the reputation of the institutions or the universities that matters. SP Jain, ISB, BIMTECH, BITS, even though they are in the private sector, are as reputed as any established government university. Institution building certainly takes time. If a private university comes for the right reasons and has a long term vision it would succeed.
What is different about private universities? What makes them better places to
There are good places to study both in the private or public sector. Private sector is relatively new and as institution building takes time, many of them would have to work hard to develop a reputation.
Do students get better job opportunities after studying in any private university?
Once again that would depend on the quality of education rather than the sector to which they belong. Both sectors, private and government, have excellent places and both have places that need to improve.
You studied in a government university but have taught in a private university, what do you feel is different about the teaching methods there?
I taught for 10 years in two UK degree programmes in India and I loved it. I had studied a very traditional masters which had no emphasis on research or employability. I picked up a lot of skills when I started doing my Ph.D. at IIT Kanpur. Whereas in the UK degrees there was a focus on research as well as job skills right from the first year of college. However, the challenge is that the foreign degrees are not recognised in India.
Is there any change in the education scene after the rise of the private university?
Earlier with only a few universities it was extremely stressful for the students. Now they have more choices which is a good thing. After all life should also go on for students who scored 88 per cent in their exams.
Can you give five pros and cons of studying in a private university?
- Focus on employability skills
- Usually good infrastructure
- Student centric
- Timely exams and results
- Classes held on time
- Revenue is generated primarily from student fee and may lead to an entitlement culture
- Casual attitude, both of administration and students in some campuses
- False promises in some cases about placements
- ‘My father has a business I am here to get a degree and not to learn’ attitude in some students
- Lack of qualified faculty
Which courses are better in a private university and what is the future of these universities in India?
Most of the private universities anyway focus on professional courses like engineering, management, law which have a higher attraction for students.
Ambica Gulati likes to write on education. To read more of her work, click here