Balancing the regulation of private education

Private educational institutions are desirable. Fraud is not.

The Acorn had argued that one public policy issue in the ongoing IIPM saga is the regulation of the use of official sounding words in the of naming private organisations.

While there is no case for preventing organisations from assuming official sounding names, like the ‘Indian Institutes’ 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)

7 thoughts on “Balancing the regulation of private education”

  1. Looks like a prime candidate for regulation overkill. I honestly sometimes wonder how some of the proposals actually make it through despite their lack of common sense. Agreed while there is a definite case for greater regulation in private education in India, forcing institutes to include a disclaimer within their degrees would only hinder increased private investment in high quality education – not in anyone’s interest. This is also an example of a ‘bad’regulation/law which provides an incentive for non-compliance.

  2. Nitin ,

    Frankly , people who are stupid enough to get f-ed up by a name ,idiotic enough to commit time , money and energy to a f-ed up cause because of a sexy sounding name , deserve to be f-ed. No amount of regulation or governmental support can prevent them from f-ing up.

    (sorry about the expletives..just couldn’t resist.)

  3. I thought there were already norms which regulated usage of ‘Indian’, ‘National’ etc. in names of educational (or indeed commercial) institutions. IIRC, a few years back, IIIT-Pune’s name was changed from Indian Institute of Information Technology to International Institute of Information Technology.

  4. What value does the Government believe its imprimatur adds? Neither Harvard nor Stanford which are both private gain anything by Governmental approval – on the contrary, the Govt. gains by research conducted by the both, with the key benefit or relationship being recognition of the University’s private and tax-exempt status.

  5. I know there are restrictions to use in commercial enterprises. To use the word India, one needs to havea min. paid up capital at Rs. 1 crore.

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