Measure up, or secede

Meanwhile in India, despite the "big bang" that UPA 2 promised, higher education continues to moulder. Public universities are shackled by faculty issues and the lack of autonomy in financial, administrative and academic matters, private universities have proliferated but have patchy standards. Elite students exit the system altogether, paying foreign universities enormous fees. And yet, India is reluctant to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem. When the programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) put India in the 71st position, out of 73, the test was declared faulty. But universities can't have it both ways, seeking a place in the global education marketplace, but claiming loftier goals when they don't measure up. The IITs, for instance, are only too happy to talk up their hypercompetitive entrance exam, or cite the international press describing them as "Harvard, MIT and Princeton rolled into one". But when the numbers roll in, they are rejected as alien standards. They should either pull out of the race, or compete with the best.

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