Print Friendly, PDF & Email

EDITORIAL ANALYSIS: Autonomy oils the wheels of higher education excellence

 Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of national importance(Different social service Schemes, NEP, Qs ranking, THE ranking etc)
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Social empowerment, development and management of social sectors/services related to Education etc.



  • The 2023 edition of the QS world university ranking reckons that three of India’s higher educational institutions amongst the top 200 of the world
    • The Times Higher Education (THE) ranking and Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) places only one Indian institution among the top 400 of the world.




QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) ranking:

  • It is the only international ranking to have received the approval of the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG).
  • QS uses six indicators to compile the ranking:
    • Academic reputation (AR)
    • Employer reputation (ER)
    • Citations per faculty (CPF)
    • Faculty/student ratio
    • International faculty ratio
    • International student ratio.
  • The IISc ranks 155th globally.


Times Higher Education (THE) ranking:

  • THE is a magazine reporting specifically on news and issues related to higher education.
  • The IISc is placed in the 251-300 band.
  • Boycott by IITs: THE ranking has been boycotted by most Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) for the third consecutive year over transparency concerns.


Parameters for ranking:

  • Teaching (30%)
  • Research (30%)
  • Citations (30%)
  • International outlook (5(seven point five)%)
  • Industry outcome (5(two point five)%).

In teaching and research, 15% weightage each is based on a “reputational survey”


Issues with Indian universities:

  • Funded through the University Grants Commission (UGC): universities are all subject to a very strict regulatory regime.


  • Micro-managed by the regulatory authorities: faculty recruitment, student admission and the award of degrees
  • Comfort with the practice: they rarely assert their autonomy
  • Obedience: Central universities in the country are ranked on the basis of their ‘obedience’ to regulatory compliances.
  • Research: Poor fund allocation in research, Low levels of PhD enrolment, fewer opportunities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research.
    • India’s investment in R&D has remained constant at around 6(zero point six)% to 0.7(zero point seven)% of India’s GDP.
      • US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2).


Global practice:

  • The European University Association (EUA): prescribes a ‘university autonomy tool’ that lets each member university compare its level of autonomy with other European higher education systems across all member countries.


National Education Policy(NEP) about Higher education:

  • Academic and administrative autonomy essential for making higher education multidisciplinary.
  • Teacher and institutional autonomy are essential in promoting creativity and innovation.
  • Faculty and institutional autonomy through a highly independent and empowered board of management(vested with academic and administrative autonomy).
  • A light but tight regulatory framework insists that the new regulatory regime would foster a culture of empowerment.


Recent Initiatives taken by the Government:



Constitutional Provisions related to education:

●    The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976 moved education from the State to the Concurrent List.

●    Article 21A: It provides free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a fundamental Right.

●    Article 39(f): It provides that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity

●    Article 45: The State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

●     ARTICLE 46: The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people.

Way Forward

  • The new education policy. It seeks to completely overhaul the higher education system and repeatedly emphasizes the need for institutional autonomy.
  • Selective execution of the policy based on a convenient interpretation of the text is what is pushing higher education in the opposite direction.
  • Micromanagement of student admission, faculty recruitment, course contents, programme delivery and administration will take higher education farther away from excellence.
  • Creating ‘world-class universities’: 20 universities – 10 each from the public and private sector – are being selected as ‘Institutions of Eminence’, to help them attain world-class standards of teaching and research.
  • Increased focus on vocational and profession led education: Include vocational subjects in mainstream universities to allow for greater acceptance and utility for vocational learning.
  • Accreditation Framework: All higher education institutions must be accredited compulsorily & regularly, by agencies, empanelled through a transparent, high-quality process.



  1. National Education Policy 2020 is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals-4 (2030). It intended to restructure and re-orient the education system in India. Critically examine the statement(UPSC 2020)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)