Higher education and the role of government

Dilip Thakore has asked me to respond to the question “Are low tuition fees destroying Indian public higher education.”

Let’s take a step back.

1. Why should the government fund higher education? The general answer to this that there are positive externalities to higher education, and that the optimum level of higher education in society is higher than what the market can provide on the basis of private incentives. In India, there is also the issue of the constitutional mandate for social revolution. Government intervention in higher education is seen as one important way to achieve an equitable and egalitarian society.

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