‘The year 2023 will be a watershed moment for Indian Higher Education and H.EdTech sector’
As the Union Budget 2023-24 is round the corner with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to table it in the parliament on February 1, most of the industry sectors have been eagerly waiting for their wish to be fulfilled. Education sector is not an exception, rather it is among the sectors which is expecting more than others from union budget, 2023-24.
In the area of education, all academic levels were impacted by the school closures during the Covid-19. Based on an exclusive interview with various stakeholders, this article highlights several expectations from the Budget 2023-24 for the education sector which is as follows.
Timespro, a learning platform that traverses an individual’s journey through life, making them confident and equipped to rise in this competitive world, expects reduction in taxes on educational programmes to ease the burden of learners seeking better upskilling programmes.
Anish Srikrishna, CEO, Timespro said, “The year 2023 will be a watershed moment for Indian Higher Education and H.EdTech sector, and a progressive education budget can propel the country's growth and development.
However, this must be drafted with the critical aspects of accessibility and affordability in mind, he added. As a result, we anticipate two outcomes in this year’s budget, including significant reduction in taxes on educational programmes from the current 18 per cent. It will ease the burden of millions of learners seeking a better future through skilling and upskilling programmes, thereby influencing employability and employment, and a budgetary incentive for NIRF 100 and the Institutes of Excellence to run high quality online learning courses with the help of the private sector and through optimal utilisation of the recently launched 5G mobile services, concluded Srikrishna.
Dr. VP Singh, Professor of Economics, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurugram says, “One can’t expect much from the Union Budget for the higher education sector. It lacks financial muscle to make any significant change. Total receipts of the government, excluding borrowings, for 2022-23 is estimated to be around Rs 23 lakh crore and expenditure around Rs 39 lakh crore. Spending over 35 crore Indian households spreads it too thin. But the government does have the intent to make significant changes. This adequately reflects through the policy changes and the rapid increases in the number of seats for admission. The major spending has to come from the private sector and there is huge demand.”
He further said, “Good B-Schools generally receive not less than 5,000 applications against say 240 seats availability, implying a demand of more than 20 times the available supply. With such supply the higher education market is certainly a sellers' market. Add to this the fact that last year 11 lakh Indian students travelled abroad for higher education. A rough estimate of the expenditure comes out to be Rs 3000 crores. Indian B-schools keep cribbing about the quality of students they get. Why don’t Indian B-Schools get these students? Are these students who travel abroad inferior? Should not be. The government has to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to 50 per cent by 2035. That is why it is giving approvals of higher intake in both offline as well as online courses. Are Indian institutions ready to absorb this demand? Government does not feel so and that’s why it is letting foreign universities open their centres in India. Instead of waiting for the government to do something, it is time that the private sector gears for capturing the huge demand.”
One Million for One Billion (1M1B)- largest organization developing and mobilizing the Future Workforce through technology seeks an increased spending towards digitizing classrooms across government schools in rural areas.
“Every school should be equipped with smartboards and projectors and our curriculum should further seek to integrate technology across every subject,” it added.
Manav Subodh- Founder, One Million for One Billion said, “As India embarks on its journey of becoming a global superpower, it is important for the country to leverage the upcoming peak with regards to the demographic dividend. This is why it is crucial to provide our future workforce (youth learners), who are currently in schools and colleges with pathways to financial success by strengthening the bridge between our education system and future economic opportunities.”
He listed the expectations from the upcoming budget including, a special allocation for creating AR/VR labs in every school to allow our education to become more “hands-on” and could usher in the much-anticipated era of skills-oriented pedagogy, Increase funding for Innovators, developers and startups in the form of grants, mentorship, and access to resources, which will accelerate India’s contribution towards building the foundations of the metaverse and nurturing the development of XR technologies.”
During the COVID-19, closure of schools has impacted thousands of students across the nation. A huge population of students were forced to drop out of school, a huge learning loss has already taken place, as evident from National Achievement Survey 2021 and the quality of education has deteriorated across levels of education. These have significant implications for how the education system is strengthened to support NEP 2020 goals.
In the past two years, the allocation for Education in Union Budget has been declining and a boost after the COVID-19 pandemic is expected.
Budget Allocation on Education Sector in Last Three Years
Details of actual expenditure (2020-21), budgeted and revised estimates of 2021-22, and budgeted allocation in the year 2022-23 reveals that budgery allocation to the Ministry of Education increased to 1,04,278 crores in 2022-23 from 93,224 crores in the previous year 2021-22, showing an increase of Rs. 11,052 crores which is 11.86 per cent more of the total budgeted allocation to the Ministry of Education in the previous year.
Budget allocation on education sector during the period 2017-18 to 2022-23 reveals that it has consistently increased from 81,868 crores in 2017-18 to 1,04,278 crores in the budget 2022-23 which is 11.86 per cent more than the same in the previous budget. During 2021-22, the allocation to education was declined by 6,088 crores which is 6.13 per cent of the allocation in the previous year.
If we calculate government education expenditure of various countries during 2019, Chile was the country that spent the highest share of its gross domestic product (GDP) on higher education, reaching 2.6 percent. Of this, 1.6 percent came from private sources. The United States followed behind with its total spending reaching 2.5 percent of its GDP. On the other hand, higher education spending in Luxembourg only amounted to 0.4 percent of its GDP.
The Ministry of Defence received the highest allocation with INR 5,25,166.15 crore during 2022 budget with an increase from previous year's allocation, which was INR 4,78,196 crore. After the Defence Ministry, the most money was allocated to the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distributions Ministry, INR 2,17,684.46 crore. In the 2021 budget, too, the ministry had been ranked second, with INR 2,56,948 crore.