Social Responsiveness of Higher Education: Access, Equity And Social Justice



The purpose of this study is to understand and present multiple perspectives on the trends and developments on access to higher education in India. It particularly aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on access, equity and social justice as part of social justice demand for higher education. Higher education institutions in India use three approaches to admit students, namely; classical – merit/elite door, social responsive – reservation door and economic responsive – financial interest door or the combination of the three, depending on their status and background such as public, private aided, private unaided. The study consulted relevant documents and literature to understand the problem, gathered empirical data through semi-closed qualitative interviews and used critical reflection and social constructivism approach to analyse and discuss the results. The findings indicate that some of the respondents support merit/elite door, some favour reservation door, some demand fair and square reservation system, some others seem to accept financial interest door, while some others support the combination of the two or the three approaches. The findings confirmed the initial assumption of the study that privatisation of higher education and the emergence of self-financing programmes and institutions have slowed down and posed new challenges to the social justice agenda. The study argues that it is important that higher educational institutions to uphold social responsiveness by embracing equity and social justice. Moreover, it is important to raise conscious about the social responsiveness of higher education among various stakeholders and accounting divergent perspectives contribute to engineer fair and just society.

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