Private educational institutions are desirable. Fraud is not.
While there is no case for preventing organisations from assuming official sounding names, like the â€˜Indian Institutesâ€™ of various things, it may be useful to consider requiring those who do so to publish disclaimers to the effect that they have no official connection with the Indian government. [The Acorn]
It appears that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) thought likewise. It has announced plans to regulate the use of the words “National” and “Indian” or acronyms like “IIT” and “IIM” in the names of unrecognised, private institutions. There are reasonable grounds to justify this regulation, to prevent misrepresentation and protect the interests of the consumers of private education.
But the AICTE is going further. It intends to insist that private institutions that award their own degrees be forced to publish a disclaimer that they are not recognised by the government of India. Here, the policy rationale is unbalanced — while it does help prevent misrepresentation, it is likely to have an negative impact on the private education industry. Bona fide private institutes who award their own degrees but do not aim to pass off as officially recognised ones, may now be perceived in the same class as the dubious degree shops.
If the government wants to distinguish those institutions and qualifications it recognises from those it does not, it may be better off allowing recognised schools to insert an official “claimer” announcing their recognition. It is for the market to judge which qualifications it considers worthy. The role of government should be to protect consumers from fraud. India has the potential to build a globally competitive education industry — it will be a shame if the side-effect of a well-meaning government policy ruins those chances.
(This post also appears on The Indian Economy Blog)