Expansion of Higher Education in Delhi: What Should Delhi State Government do?

Posted on March 15, 2015


Author:   Sanjay Goel


It is heartening to note that Delhi government is planning to add many more institutes of higher education in Delhi and develop it as a knowledge hub. A knowledge hub cannot be created by focusing on teaching institutes only. Research has to be equally important at Delhi government’s institutes. Though past Delhi governments have taken many steps for expanding the higher education capacity, the performance of most of Delhi government’s institutes wrt research contribution is far from being impressive. At present, Delhi has following universities and other degree awarding institutes:

Central Universities and institutes or Central government approved Institutes

  1. Delhi University (affiliating university)
  2. JNU
  3. IIT Delhi
  4. AIIMS
  5. Jamia Millia Islamia
  6. IGNOU  (some PG programs and even PhD are offered in face-to-face mode)
  7. National Institute of Fashion Technology
  8. School of Planning and Architecture (deemed to be university)
  9. NIT Delhi (deemed to be university)
  10. Indian Agricultural Research Institute (deemed to be university)
  11. TERI University (deemed to be university)
  12. South Asian University (A joint University of SAARC)
  13. National Museum Institute (deemed to be university)
  14. Delhi based CSIR Labs acting as campuses of AcSIR for its academic programs
  15. Delhi Campus of ISI, Kolkata
  16. Institute of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India (awards a 2 year PG Diploma after MA)
  17. Indian Institute of Mass Communication (awards PG diploma)
  18. Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research (SVNIRTAR) (affiliated to Utkal University, Bhubneswar)
  19. Hamdard University (Private deemed to be university)

In addition, Delhi also has several AICTE approved autonomous private institutes awarding PGDM, e.g., Fore School of Management, Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, Apeejay School of Management, IILM, Asia Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi Institute of Management, etc.   These autonomous institutes award their own AICTE PG Diploma in Management instead of a degree from some affiliating university.

Delhi State Universities

  1. GGSIP University (affiliating university)
  2. Delhi Technological University
  3. National Law University, Delhi
  4. IIIT Delhi
  5. Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD)
  6. Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women

Delhi state government has also set up and funds few colleges like NSIT that are affiliated with Delhi University and have a special quota for Delhi’s students.

Perhaps there are few more smaller degree awarding institutes in both the above categories.

As can be seen in the above lists, there are more than 15 unitary universities in Delhi, and more than 20 AICTE approved autonomous private institutes.   Many of these unitary universities are highly specialized and cater to a very small student population, some at PG level only. However, the two affiliating universities, DU and GGSIP, register more than 90% students who take admission in any of the above listed universities and institutes for face-to-face mode of higher education in Delhi. In Indian kind of affiliating universities model, the affiliated colleges have none or very little academic autonomy (अकाद्मिक स्वराज). These colleges usually offer only UG programs and cannot design or modify the curriculum or examination system. The colleges are also not much engaged in research. They often have a large number of faculty members without PhD. A look at the faculty profile at some of the most reputed colleges in Delhi, e.g., St Stephen’s, SRCC, etc., will clarify this. For example, the most sought after Economics department at St Stephen’s and SRCC has only one faculty member each with PhD.   The situation in many departments at most colleges is not different. With none or very limited academic autonomy and very limited research focus in colleges, well qualified faculty with PhD usually look for alternate options and join a university department. This leaves a serious gap in the quality of college education even for the most brilliant students who score more than 95% marks in their 12th class.

Internationally, this kind of affiliating model of large universities, very common in India, having several affiliating colleges has become obsolete. In USA and UK, there are no such kind of colleges that do not award their own degrees. They only have universities or colleges that award their own degrees. They all have academic freedom to design their programs, curriculum and examination systems. A strong and independent system of accreditation ensures high quality. Indian style fascination with centralized control and uniformity across several colleges embedded in the current model of affiliating university kills the scope of innovation, and hence excellence, in higher education. Therefore, it is advisable that the further expansion of higher education in Delhi takes place by creating modern kind of institutes (like IIIT and AUD) that are completely autonomous in designing their programs, curriculum as well as examination system.   This can be done in following ways:

  1. Opening new unitary universities offering UG, PG and doctoral programs emphasizing interdisciplinary study and research rather than just a shortsighted over-focus only on some popular disciplines. As the state government may not have the required money to bear the cost of several such universities, few reputed and experienced private philanthropic groups like Azim Premji foundation may be encouraged to set up such universities in Delhi. Or MHRD’s PPP kind of model for  IIITs could also be considered. In this model, the state government gives the land, the centre gives one third fund and the remaining one third fund is given by a private partner. In Delhi’s case, the Delhi government could give the land and the remaining fund could be given by the private partner.    Absence of such a provision in Delhi has encouraged many  private universities to grow in NCR just outside the border of Delhi. Most of these are substandard.  Still they attract a large number of students from Delhi.  If Delhi government allows private universities, there is a higher chance of developing high quality private universities because of location advantage and also potentially better state government policies and framework wrt private universities as compared to the policies in Haryana and UP where it is now not uncommon  to find retired administrators working as vice chancellors.  The effect of the location advantage can be seen from the fact  that many private B schools in Delhi are considered  better than most private B Schools in NCR located just outside Delhi.
  2. Providing academic autonomy to deserving colleges within GGSIPU wrt design of academic programs, curriculum, and examination system. Some universities in south do that with few colleges.
  3. Reputed universities like TISS should be invited to set up Delhi campus.
  4. On the lines of Indian Institute Science Education and Research (IISER ), start a Delhi Institute Science Education and Research (DISER) or Indraprastha Institute Science Education and Research (IISER).
  5. Encouraging the existing universities under the administrative control of Delhi government to create strong synergies among themselves. For example, IIIT Delhi could join hand with AUD to create new programs combining IT and social science and education, AUD with NLU to combine law with social sciences.
  6. Creating a Delhi state’s professional and independent board for accreditation of colleges and universities as the national boards (NBA and NAAC) are overworked and may take long to process each case. Accreditation by Delhi board will not replace the requirement for national level accreditation. A strong system of accreditation will take care of concerns about quality that may arise because of decentralization and liberal regulation. A strong and demanding system of accreditation and a liberal regulation is the way to go.
  7. Creating research chairs at Delhi government’s institutes.
  8. Provide liberal funding including a large number of PhD scholarships in  Delhi government’s institutes.
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