In a horribly bad column yesterday, Shashi Tharoor sets a one point agenda for India's higher ed system: allow foreign universities in, even (or, especially?) if they are businesses that exist for making a profit for their investors.
He has such a strong faith in the ability of for-profit foreign universities to take India to higher ed nirvana, that he uses the following as a supporting argument:
Whatever one may think about the US, there's no arguing with the fact that it has the best and most efficient higher education system in the world, much of it runs in the private sector and for profit.
Yes, you read it right. "... Much of it runs in the private sector and for profit." This is laughably false -- unless "much of it," "private sector," or "for profit" is open to some creative interpretation! The Harvards and the Yales get so much of our mindshare because of many reasons (you figure them out!), but educating a huge fraction of American students is not one of them. And, they certainly are not businesses. (They may appear to be, but that's a different story ;-)
Let's repeat that for the benefit of Tharoor who is badly in need of some education here: Yes, Harvard and Yale are private, but they are not profit-oriented businesses!
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Just to be sure, I'm not at all against the entry of foreign universities into India. But the idea that their entry alone is enough to transform India into a higher ed powerhouse is so full of crap (particularly when Tharoor specifically ignores reforms of the existing university system or ways of getting more philanthropic money to flow into institutions), that the rest of the article is not even worth debating with.
And, remember, he's the one who wrote that howler in the quote above.