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Higher education spending: India at the bottom of BRIC
Shabana Hussain in New Delhi
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February 05, 2007 10:39 IST

Despite an expected 150 per cent increase in central spending on higher education in 2007-08 (at Rs 6,354 crore over Rs 2,550.50 crore (Rs 25.51 billion) this year), the fact remains that India will continue to lag behind, compared to its Asian counterparts.

At the moment, public spending on higher education per student in India stands at $400 (Rs 18,000) and this is expected to improve to around $1,000 (Rs 45,000).

Previously released United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) data had showed that at $400, India had the lowest public expenditure on higher education per student among developing and developed countries.

In comparison, the United States spends $9,629, the United Kingdom $8502 and Japan $4830, on higher education per student.

Even among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, India is at the bottom of the pyramid. Sample this: While China, Russia and Brazil spend $2,728, $1,024 and $3,986 respectively on higher education per student, another developing country Malayasia's expenditure under the same head is quite high at $11,790.

"An increase in allocations will obviously translate into an increase in the public spending per student. But this may not benefit students. An increased spend could mean the government is hiring more teachers and faculty, but if these teachers do not turn up in colleges, then the entire effort goes wasted," Bibek Debroy, an economist said.

Again, in primary education, India was at the bottom of public spending per student. India is a notch above China at $7.2 per student. Surprisingly, in China, though the public expenditure on higher education is high, the country lags behind India at $6.1 per student in primary education.

Budget 2007-08 is expected to have nothing major for primary education. Instead of an increased government spend, indications are ripe that primary education may see a reduction in central support by around 6 percentage points to Rs 16,026 crore (Rs 160.26 billion), from Rs 17,128 crore (Rs 171.28 billion) in the current fiscal year. Powered by

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