- The Central government’s slant toward premier institutions has continued ever since the Eleventh Five Year Plan where in spite of a nine-fold increase in Budget allocation State institutions have been left to fend for themselves with funding mainly directed towards starting more premier institutes.
- Investment by State governments has been also dwindling each year as higher education is a low-priority area.
- There has been a demand to take spending on education to 6% of gross domestic product for decades.
- The gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education is 24.5 meaning out of every 100 youths eligible for higher education, less than 25 are pursuing tertiary education.
- Only 1.7% colleges run PhD programmes and a mere 33% colleges run postgraduate-level programmes.
- The country has a poor record with both the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) being seen more as controllers of education than facilitators.
- As a regulator of India’s higher education, coordinator of vastly different kinds of institutions, and custodian of standards, the UGC had begun to look ill-equipped.
- Regulatory bodies with licensing powers hurt the autonomy of professional higher education, leading to serious imbalance in the diarchy they were under, and partitioning general from professional higher education in several crucial areas of knowledge.
- Privately set-up institutions in medicine, engineering, and other fields created the ground conditions in which strict regulation acquired justification. The power to license led to corruption.
Lack of autonomy:
- All aspects of academic life, including admission norms, syllabus design, and examination were controlled by the affiliating university.
- In colleges set up and run by the government, recruitment of faculty was the state government’s prerogative.
- When certain state governments stopped fresh recruitment altogether and moved over to the practice of hiring contractual or ad hoc teachers, no college could practise autonomy to alleviate its suffering.
- Additional autonomy granted on the basis of NAAC rating and status in NIRF begs questions about these systems of evaluation. They are neither authentic nor valid. The reason they lack authenticity lies in the processes through which they are derived.
- The NAAC is based on an inspectorial process. Its reliability suffers from both ends involved in any inspectorial system in our ethos.
Roots of Vulnerability
- Currently there is a dominant ideology of commercialisation of knowledge and teaching.
- Higher education is not leading to graduates entering the work sector as the education is not in sync with the needs of the companies.
- Research cannot be improved merely by regulating universities, instead they need efforts to create enabling atmosphere for which it is imperative to grant more autonomy, better funding and new instruments to regulate work ethic.
- New initiatives like Hackathon, curriculum reform, anytime anywhere learning through SWAYAM, teacher training are all aimed at improving quality. These need to be effectively implemented.
- Establish world-class multidisciplinary research universities
- Create a master plan for every state and union territory
- Each state must establish an integrated higher education master plan to provide an excellent education for all its residents.
- Attract the best and the brightest talent to be faculty members
- Thus a complete revamp is needed to meet the present demand and address the future challenge that India is about to face.
- To reap the diverse culture demographic dividend and to maintain peace and social harmony among them quality education with values are the necessary area to focus.
- The higher education is facing many challenges as pointed
above, most the challenges are difficult but are not impossible to resolve.
- Youth is the most important asset for a country their future is the future of the Nation. So, the government must be compelled to provide basic education and skills.