ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Paucity of Data on Indian Higher Education

The absence of vital data and the discrepancies in the existing data constantly pose questions on the credibility of the higher education database in India. An examination of this unfortunate situation with the suggestion of an institutional research model, which would help institutions to engage in a periodic review process to identify the strengths and weaknesses at various levels.

I am grateful to K N Panikkar, Philip G Altbach and Thomas Joseph for their contributions to several of the ideas expressed in this article, and for comments on an earlier draft. I alone am responsible for the views expressed herein.

After a long gap, far-reaching changes are being brought about in the governance of higher education in India. But comparatively very little attention has so far been paid by the government and various agencies like the University Grants Commission (UGC) to collect and disseminate accurate data on the higher educational system. How long can we function in the present manner is an important question that needs immediate attention of all, especially the policymakers.

Reliable and continuous statistical data are fundamental not only to understand and evaluate the performance of any higher education system, but also to anticipate future requirements. However, the importance of collecting reliable data on higher education has been greatly undermined in independent India. Although the country has been investing heavily in higher education sector during the past few years, there is no mechanism currently in place to provide policymakers with the required data they need to make more informed decisions. As a result, various agencies of the government and a majority of Indian higher educational institutions lack detailed information on the sector. This is evident from the scanty data the state and its various agencies have on higher education system. Data on private higher educational institutions have become increasingly scarce as private institutions, especially in the for-profit sector, are not always willing to disclose details about their functioning.

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