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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.

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

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.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  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)