India has survived with an increasingly mediocre higher education system for decades. Now as India strives to compete in a globalized economy in areas that require highly trained professionals, the quality of higher education becomes increasingly important. So far, India's large educated population base and its reservoir of at least moderately well-trained university graduates have permitted the country to move ahead. But the competition is fierce. China in particular is heavily investing in improving its best universities with the aim of making a small group of them world class in the coming decade; and making a larger number internationally competitive research universities. The largest international student population is from China. The number from China is about 4 lakhs. China allows this large number to go out for higher education, inspite of the massive facilities created within China only because they realize that in the larger interests of the country, the young men and women have to seek educational opportunities outside the borders of China. Surprisingly Tamil Nadu has not taken a comprehensive view of higher education through an appropriate committee since independence. The neighbouring states have done the exercise. It is necessary for Tamil Nadu to examine comprehensively the opportunities available for higher education and research; the opportunities needed to be created and policy decisions to be taken for the future. It is not the responsibility of the party power alone. Every political party that worth the name must accept responsibility in this direction.
Key words: Higher education, research, national knowledge commission, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), foreign exchange, economic policy.
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