Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chance to really invest in people...

I guess we didn't need any more evidence of the shortage of capital available for education in India but just in case, this piece from the FT describes a revolutionary idea:

Mumbai university eyes market listing

By Joe Leahy in Mumbai and Jon Boone in London
Published: April 16 2007 20:08 | Last updated: April 17 2007 03:53
In what appears to be a world first for a traditional university, the 150-year-old University of Mumbai is looking at a stock market listing.
The state-funded institution expects to release in six months a final report on a plan that will highlight the shortage of funding for high-quality education in India’s overloaded university system.
Vijay Khole, the university’s vice-chancellor, said funds were needed for new facilities and “centres of excellence” for research. “If we have good ideas we need money to implement those ideas,” he said.
The move would be revolutionary in India’s education system, which critics say has been stifled by tight government controls on issues ranging from student fees to quota systems for the economically disadvantaged.
The system is failing to keep pace with the demand for high-quality talent in an economy that is growing at 9 per cent, led by sophisticated service industries such as information technology and finance.
Internationally, market spin-offs of business units from universities are common but listings of whole universities are rare.
The proposal, which Mr Khole said was one of several ideas for fundraising under consideration, will face many obstacles.
Education is a not-for-profit activity in India and the university would need the state parliament, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, to change the law to allow it to pay dividends, for instance.
For-profit “universities” do exist, such as the University of Phoenix, which is owned by the Nasdaq-listed Apollo Group, but they bear little resemblance to a traditional institution focused on research and undergraduate teaching. Outfits such as Phoenix and Kaplan University, another US company, focus on providing professional education, much of it delivered online, and do very little original research.
The University of Mumbai proposal reflects the crisis in the country’s education system.
“The education sector in this country has really not expanded in the past 30 years, while the population has doubled or tripled,” said Ajit Rangnekar, deputy dean of the Indian School of Business, one of the country’s leading private institutions.
“That’s why we have this ridiculous situation that a country of 1bn people is screaming about shortage of talent. That in itself is a commentary on how inadequate our education system is.”
He said the private sector was stepping in to fill the breach, with many companies or industrialists sponsoring institutions “out of enlightened self-interest” or to garner prestigious “naming” rights.

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