With the removal of Arjun Singh from the Ministry of HRD, there is a prospect of genuine change in Indian higher education. The importance of this has been written about extensively. As an example, see Shekhar Gupta in Indian Express.
While most of us agree that India needs better universities, there is less clarity on how to set about achieving better universities. In Indian Express today, Ila Patnaik draws on the knowledge of a new NBER working paper titled The Governance and Performance of Research Universities: Evidence from Europe and the U.S. by Philippe Aghion, Mathias Dewatripont, Caroline M. Hoxby, Andreu Mas-Colell and Andre Sapir. This carries the discussion forward by identifying specific elements of the design of the institutional environment which will induce high quality universities.
A quick summary of the five ingredients which matter:
- No government approval required for budget; budget-making happens at the university and university alone.
- Reduced government role in the core funding of the university.
- High inequality of wages: two academics of the same seniority and rank should get different wages.
- Full flexibility in recruitment of students.
- A big role for competitive processes for gaining funding for research.