Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Varied student intake - Introduce reservations for the Elite?

It seems that the high cutoff of Delhi university is creating an exodus of students studying abroad.

I remember a joke from my childhood -
If you want your son to be a communist, send him to study in the US. If you want him to be a capitalist, send him to the USSR instead.

Warts are not visible from afar.

Today, the Soviet Union option has disappeared and if I ever believed that the world provided an equal opportunity to all, it was cured by a great short novel - Nathanial West's A Cool Million.

However, I now feel that it is better to accept reality rather than create policies on wishful thinking. For example, in education, there is one advantage of the elite universities which online education may never be able to match - face to face networking.

A very successful university would offer the possibility of smart people networking with the children of the power elite.  Let's accept it. The likelihood of the children of the elite becoming the elites of the next generation is very-very high. The scenario is likely to be much worse for India compared to the US and Europe.

So, it seems desirable to introduce reservations for a group that is not bothered about competitive exams as this group has the option of Harvard, Stanford, etc. Interacting with them is likely to increase the chances of upward mobility for the rest of us.

Likely Best Universities

Since that is not likely to happen, I expect that the great universities in India will be private. Government will have to give flexibility to private institutions for admissions and fees as that may be the only option for increasing capacity.

The smarter among them will be elite, with high fees and endowments. They  will also be the ones with generous scholarships for the exceptional students.

If you were a smart student bursting with ideas, wouldn't you prefer to rub shoulders with the progeny of ....?

Update:  Interesting news!

Oxford University announced Wednesday a £75 million donation from Michael Moritz, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and his wife, Harriet Heyman.
The gift, worth about $115 million, will provide financial assistance to undergraduates from low-income backgrounds. The donation, the biggest grant for student support in the university’s modern history...

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