There has been a great impetus on education across the country, especially higher education. The number of colleges has been showing double digit growth in many states and the trend seems to continue.
Also, the number of students going to college has leapfrogged in the last decade and the community has only become more prominent.
Here's what students expect from the Budget the Finance Minister will be unveiling on February 28:
If one thing has grown faster than any other in the last few years- it is the cost of education. Not just school fees, but college fees have grown faster than the growth of parents' incomes. Yes, the government has been pushing banks for loans, but that alone is not a solution here. Students say they'd be happy if higher exemptions (under section 80C) are applied for the benefit of parents. This would give a great relief to households where educational expenses are the biggest component of monthly expenses.
Although the government has tried to make educational loans easily accessible to students, more than often getting one is not as easy as it is made to appear. The defaults committed by a few students have made banks wary of approving loans and hence the whole community has to struggle to get loans. If the Union Budget can create a framework which can not only enforce collection of repayments but also simplify and streamline the process of getting educational loans, there will be a sizeable growth in the number of students joining higher education courses. This will also help the economy, which today continues to face many a problem related to manpower shortage.
Section 80E has provided relief to the parents on the interest paid. More focus on this too will help motivate the parents to use opportunities to give their next generation access to higher education.
A few years ago the government introduced an education cess to generate revenues for boosting the education sector, which was probably a short-term and short-lived strategy.
The biggest challenge for students today is getting jobs in core sectors as those sectors are not growing as fast as colleges churn out students. Perhaps the Budget should also focus on the 'teach a man how to fish...' adage when looking at education. A greater support for the core sector will help the corporate put in more energy and more investments on higher education. This will not only boost job opportunities but will also help improve the quality of higher education and make this process sustainable.
Investment in public services
As a generation that is passionate about change in the country, the younger generation feels the need to give back to the country. There is a clear lack of leaders in society, especially in politics. No budget in the past decade has spoken about higher education with respect to public services.
As far as education is concerned it's mostly the state governments that implement most of the plans. If the Budget can address issues related to the education sector and give more freedom and funding to state governments, it could make the process more efficient.
Students believe their expectations from the Budget are not only important to the sector but also the country. Give us your support and we will give you a golden future, says the student looking at the Budget 2013.
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