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India is open to invite capital from everywhere to provide quality education

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India is open to “invite capital from everywhere” to provide quality education infrastructure that can educate and skill over 255 million youth in the 15-25 age group and improve the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for higher education from 27% to 50% by 2030, Union Education & Skill Development Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told ET Roundtable on Monday, adding that government will “very soon” release new guidelines for foreign players in education sector.

“UGC’s primary work is completed and consultations are on with stakeholders to deregulate. We are also talking to various prestigious institutions,” he said.

Pradhan added that India is working with a 2030 timeline in mind, keeping in sight its demographic advantage, to augment quality, capacity and infrastructure in the sector.

“Our overall GER is 27%. This must be increased up to 50% by 2030 for us to achieve productivity as a nation. For this, we need to augment the existing strength, capacity and infrastructure in the education system. How do we do that? We must invite capital from everywhere. We must also ensure that market forces don’t overpower the institutions and there is no commercialisation. So, anyone is welcome to our system with one expectation-that it should not be exploited,” he said.

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‘Need to Focus on 255m Youth’

In terms of data, Pradhan said there were roughly 255 million youth in the 15-25 age group, of which only 110 million are in educational institutions. “This means that another 14 crore (140 million) are either at work or not gainfully employed. India cannot be a superpower unless we focus on all these 25.5 crore (255 million) students and give them the right orientation, training, knowledge and opportunity. The State has the responsibility to do so,” he added.

While the government permits 100% foreign direct investment in the education sector through the automatic route, foreign investors have hardly shown any enthusiasm so far.

Regulatory requirements that it be routed through a ‘not for profit’ entity and absence of enabling regulations by higher education regulators-University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education-are said to be key hurdles.

The Economic Times , Published on 3rd August

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