//AIU for equity and access in higher education

AIU for equity and access in higher education

AIU chief says 50 per cent quota will benefit weaker sections

KOCHI: The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) believes that 50 per cent reservation in professional education will benefit the weaker sections of society. However, such a resolution should come from Parliament.

Talking to newspersons after the inaugural session of the two-day Round Table Conference of Indo-Australian Vice-Chancellors on Equity and Access in Higher Education here on Thursday, S.F. Patil, president of the association, said that higher education was in a peculiar situation.

"There is little allocation of funds for higher education. The Government focus is on primary education," he said.

Contributing fee

In Australia, higher education has a contributing fee, says Sheel Nuna from the Australian Commission. Nobody is denied higher education because of lack of resources, said Prof. Nuna.

The Government provides loan for education, which can be repaid once the beneficiary starts earning $36,000 a year, he said. Prof. Nuna said that those who paid the fees upfront also get benefit of discount.

Access and equity in higher education have different dimensions in the two countries, said Prof. Patil.

The AIU will give a feedback to the Government on the ideas generated at the conference here. Both countries have opportunity to learn from each other, he added.

This is the fifth year of the conference and each year an issue is taken up for discussion. On earlier occasions, quality assurance, funding of higher education, governance of university for increasing efficiency were some of the focus areas.

Earlier, in the opening remarks during the conference, Prof. Patil called upon the representatives of different universities to devise steps to achieve the desired rate of 30 per cent access to higher education from the current seven per cent.

He pointed out that high cost and limited number of higher education institutions were the main reasons for denial of higher education to many.

Dayanand Dongaonkar, Secretary-General of the AIU, presenting an overview of higher education, said that while 70 per cent of population of the country was in rural areas, 90 per cent of higher education institutions were in urban areas.

However, the open and distance education is becoming a major tool in making higher education accessible, he said. He pointed out that a funding mechanism for higher education needed to be developed besides checking the dropout rate in the mid-school level.

Robert King, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of New South Wales, in his presentation said that Government should provide equal employment opportunity without discrimination. "The university has programmes to reach out to disadvantaged students. People from isolated areas, rural areas, economically weaker sections, disabled, non-English speaking people and women are the target group in the university. However, there is no reservation in education."