Lamenting that the educational sector in India presented a “dismal” picture, Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari on Wednesday called for an effective and transparent regulatory mechanism to ensure quality education by private higher education institutions. “The educational scene in our country today primary, secondary and university or professional presents a dismal picture as it suffers from the tyranny of numbers; the folly of seeking quick fixes, and indifference to quality,” Ansari said after releasing a book titled ‘The Education President’. Also Read - Puducherry Proposes 10% Quota For Government School Students in Medical Courses

The book, published by the Institute for Higher Education Research and Capacity Building at the O.P. Jindal Global University, talks about the important steps President Pranab Mukherjee took in the field of higher education. Ansari said higher education institutions had a role to play in imparting knowledge and training the minds of the new generation. He said education sector had witnessed “tremendous” growth, especially with the participation of private players in the last 25 years, though some of the private institutions are merely “degree-granting portals”. Also Read - West Bengal MBBS Seats Increased to 4,000: CM Mamata Banerjee

“Almost 59 per cent of students in higher education are enrolled in private institutions. While some of these maintain high standards, a majority are lucrative degree-granting portals where infrastructure is not adequate and admission procedure is not transparent,” the Vice-President said. He also expressed concern over the lack of research orientation and the growing financial burden in the form of educational loans. Also Read - Will Convert All State-Run Madrasas Into a General School: Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

“The cost of higher education in private institutions constitutes a substantial financial burden, thereby making it increasingly more difficult for economically weaker segments to use education as an opportunity equaliser. This becomes a cause of concern since opportunities for gainful employment are not getting enhanced,” he said. According to the finance ministry data, by December 2014, some 30 lakh students availed of educational loans totalling Rs.70,475 crore. Ansari said the growth of private institutions offering professional courses is another issue of concern.

He said: “Most private institutions offer education in only a few disciplines — engineering, medicine and management. They are not concerned about social sciences, fine arts etc. that are essential for all-round development of citizens.” The private institutions as a whole lack research orientation in higher education, Ansari added.