Accreditation Edge

Can big Industrialists-owned universities measure up in excellence to Harvard, MIT, Stanford and the like?

Ask a professor what is one thing which is most important of all for a university, his/her reply would be either ‘faculty’ or ‘Infra’. I say, it should be ‘funds’. Funds are extremely critical like a bloodstream to Higher education institute (HEI). With a vision in place, and men n’ women committed to excel, ‘funds’ would get you everything, including top quality faculty.

*Funds ordinarily, don’t constitute ‘Tuition Fee’. Funds are endowments, money from IPR, Research, Consultancy, alumni gifts, foundations, philanthropists, CSR money etc. A top league university is characterised by having a larger share say, 35 to 40% of funds but a lower order university will have less funds but more ‘students fee’ component of total annual revenue. This is where you separate ‘wheat from the chaff’.

*Harvard recorded nearly $ 60 billion revenue in the year 2022-23 and a substantial part of it was the endowments. Even a lower 176th QS ranked university of Liverpool had £ 614 million but only 20 to 30% comprised funds: the remaining being the tuition fee.

*You would ask what about the funds figures of the leading Indian Universities? Well, that’s where we lag in transparency. It is however without a doubt that 80 to 90% of private HEIs in India are starved off funds needed to enhance superior infra, intellectual wealth, labs etc. to deliver a meaningful high quality education to a very large youth-bulge, waiting to rip open the canvas of multiple career possibilities. The root cause is that, at the very outset, during the education boom, some petty businessmen set up institutes only for the profiteering, little aware that education institutes were actually meant for serving the society. They still don’t plough back enough revenue into their education institutes.

*It is heartening that at a time when India needs quality education and skilling of its youth, some of the leading industrialists of India have jumped into the fray to invest and steer their respective universities to a level of truly world-class. After all, Indians are amongst the proven brightest minds of the world. Why shouldn’t they excel in the own country ?

*A yearning to breakaway from mediocrity by carving out a niche into the top 200 universities of the world is clearly palpable in all of these industrialists-owned and steered universities. These universities are also aggressively forging collaboration with some of the leading universities of the world in multiple areas of institutional, faculty and students’ growth. After IITs IISc, IIMs, these are our next best hope to academic excellence. In fact, a few of these are already doing better than some of the public Institutes of Eminence.

*All in all, it is a wonderful story, how a few industrialists, the sons of the soil are providing visionary, resources support, stewardship and strengthening the hands of their Vice Chancellors in jettisoning India into the unique league of developed nations of the world. It is sincerely hoped that business leaders don’t start profiteering and truly serve the nation by filling in a yawning abyss of academic excellence. They must rely on other business sources to make money, not education. 🌟

-By Prof JR Sharma

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