Budget 2019 India: Being a faculty member at a business school in India, I expect the following four initiatives, among others, from the upcoming Union Budget. Public spending on education There is hardly any disagreement that a thriving education system is vital for the progress of a country and it should get priority while allocating funds. However, public expenditure on education in India was abysmally low at 2.7% in 2017-18. As per UNDP Human Development Indices and Indicators 2018, government expenditure on education as percentage of GDP of India during 2012-17 is 3.8%. Surprisingly, the world average spending on education is 4.8% of GDP and public spending on education by the US, the UK and Australia is higher than 5% of GDP.
The New Education Policy 2019 draft report states the government has a target to increase spending on education to 6% of GDP to increase gross enrolment ratio (GER) to 50% by 2035 from 25.8% as per the latest available data of 2017-18. Therefore, the government must increase public spending on education to at least 4% of GDP in this upcoming Budget.
Technology-enabled education Digital delivery is the way to address the biggest challenge that higher education institutions (HEIs) are going to face in India, i.e. staying competitive in a changing environment. Implementation and initiation of online education delivery is still in infancy in India. Identifying trends in online learning, investing in advanced educational technologies and providing training to faculty members are the difficulties for HEIs in India.
The government, therefore, should push for more technology-enabled higher education and create platforms for digital delivery. The upcoming Union Budget should come out with explicit plans for facilitating and incentivising HEIs to adopt digital learning platforms. Regulatory framework for HEIs As proposed in the New Education Policy 2019 draft report, the government should use the Budget as a starting point to simplify regulatory framework for HEIs in India. Especially after the IIM Bill 2017, there is a lack of clarity for private and autonomous HEIs who offer postgraduate diploma in management.
These institutes offer market-driven courses and supply skilled labour to industry, and there should be policies to select top-tier institutions through government ranking or internationally-recognised accreditation and grant them academic and administrative autonomy. Push for research and innovation
The New Education Policy 2019 draft report is proposing to have a three-tier structure of HEIs through a proportional variation in teaching and research focus. This is a welcome and significant step towards positioning some of Indian HEIs among top 100 or top 250 universities in the world. Policy formulation, incentivisation structure and research schemes should be introduced—and as soon as possible—by allocating funds for investment on research and innovation in the upcoming Union Budget.