CII, Planning Commission releases annual higher education report- ASHE 2012

The “ASHE –
Annual Status of Higher Education in States and UTs 2012” report jointly
brought out by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Planning
Commission was released at the “AICTE-CII University-Industry Congress  at the 4th Global Higher Education Summit.

Billed as the
first attempt to critically evaluate and map the demand and supply side of
higher education in India with more focus on industry perspective, the report
provides data, facts and figures that would help stakeholders move away from
supply-centric planning and focus on a more holistic approach that considers both supply
and demand perspectives.

The report
gives incisive insights into socio-demographic data, university and university
level institutions, key higher education indicators, growth in higher education
institutes and student enrolment, industry, employment scenario and current
Initiatives and key challenges.

On the role
of private sector in higher education, ASHE 2012 report says that the private
participation in the education sector should be of quality and of great intent.
Taking cue from the success of private involvement in education in the 11th
Plan, the report says that private sector should be encouraged to establish
larger and higher quality institutions in the 12th Plan. It has been proposed
to re-examine the ‘not-for-profit’ status in higher education, so as to allow
the entry of for-profit institutions in select areas, with the necessary vision
to ensure quality and equity.

This report
aims to be used by several stakeholders – Central and State agencies, State and
local officials, business leaders, scholars and researchers and the general
public – to formulate programs, apportion resources, monitor services, research
issues and make informed decision.

methods to infuse more private capital in the higher education sector without
changing its ‘non-for-profit’ status will also be evaluated. To provide private
institutions access to long-term and low-interest rate debt, ‘infrastructure’
status should be given to higher education.

The report
suggests that educational infrastructure companies should be permitted to build
and lease physical facilities to academic institutions with lease revenues
subject to the same tax treatment as housing finance companies. Educational
trusts, societies and companies should be allowed to raise funds from the
capital market by issuing bonds and shares without changing their tax status.
FCRA provisions for investments should be relaxed to allow NRIs to invest in
not-for-profit education. Education companies should be allowed tax exemptions
in line with those enjoyed by IT companies.

In addition,
support to private institutes should be given by the government in the
following three ways, first, access to public student financial aid would be
extended to accredited private institutions. Second, private institutions would
also have access to research funding on an equal footing with public
institutions and third, private institutions would benefit from various
long-term quality enhancement efforts including enhanced use of technology and
faculty development initiatives that are taken up during the Twelfth Plan.

The report
also informs that new models of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in higher
education will also be encouraged during the Twelfth Five Year Plan,
particularly in the establishment of research and innovation institutions.
Based on the Eleventh Plan experience of setting up Indian Institutes of
Information Technology (IIITs) and polytechnics in PPP mode, a framework will
be put in place to encourage the spread and growth of PPP models, increase and
improve resource utilization and enhance the quality of education in such

By Abhay Anand

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