Translating the Community College Concept in India

  • Jillian GrossEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Since 1995, Indian educational reformers have promoted the community college concept as a tool for national development. Educational reformers regularly position the community college as a tool to remedy systemic issues of quality and inequality in India’s postsecondary education. Guided by a mandate for quality educational reform through skill development, community colleges have spread to every state in the nation. Regardless of their field position in higher education, community colleges are framed as providing “education for employment” and as a “vehicle” to transform a rigid and inequitable education system. Institutional theory would predict that a single stable organizational model would result from the unified effort of advocates advancing the community college concept. Yet, implementation remains fragmented with community colleges operating as nongovernmental organizations (NGO) at the periphery of formal education or as small departments embedded in government-funded institutions (Gross 2017a). Therefore, I explore the translation of the community college concept in India. Data include interviews with 27 community college advocates supplemented by policy documents, reports, and popular media portrayals of community colleges. Findings suggest that advocates of both models adhere to a widely popular narrative about educational reform through skill development, but differ in their approach to implementation. The result is parallel organizational forms that converge conceptually on the goal and purpose of the community college, but diverge in terms of policy and regulatory backing. In addition to providing theoretical insights into how institutional phenomena function in an emerging economy, this research has critical policy implications for community college development.


Community Colleges India Institutional Entrepreneurship Translation Skill Development Educational Reform 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of Higher and Post-secondary EducationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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