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Does Higher education sector in India needs reforms ?

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The growth rate of India in the last two decades can directly attribute to the higher education system. If India wants to greater growth, it must transform its universities and other higher technical education institution to world class institutions, then its higher education system must be reformed. Since, the country must safeguard the interests of young researchers, besides providing a strong platform for research and ensure permanent appointments for faculty members.

What are the problems?

Lower enrolment ratio

There is a huge gap between those who move out from school and who enroll in higher education system, which is really needed to be bridged. India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) is around 19 percent which 6 per cent lower than the world average and it is 50 per cent lesser than countries such as Australia and the US. India has the largest population of young people (100 million) between 17 to 19. When around 19 % students enroll into higher education institutes which translates to 20 million, which very low.

One common platform

In India, apart from UGC (University Grants Commission) there are several regulatory bodies like AICTE, MCI, BCI, NCTE and those under state governments. These individual bodies move in different paths, creating various hurdles like exams, teaching methods for students. So we need to bring all important regulatory bodies on a common platform and develop a common understanding and strategy for managing the change.

Lack of research centric approach

Most of the Indian higher education system lacks strong teaching-learning process and research. That is the reason why no higher education institution of India figures in the global top 200 higher education institutes around the world. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, which was in the 201-250 band in 2016, has slipped into the 251-300 band. According to World University Rankings– which ranks the top 1,000 universities from 77 countries – performance of Indian centres of learning has deeply deteriorated. Apart from IISc, The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and Indian Institute of Technology Madras have also dropped by at least one band.

Lack of good faculty

Shortage of quality faculty is proving to be a great stumbling block in the transformation of higher education in India. According to a government report, there is a massive need for expansion in higher education; but there is also a lack of deserving Ph.D. candidates for faculty positions in the higher education. This has created a shortage of almost 54 percent in the faculty talent pool in higher education, such a deficiency will greatly prove to be a stumbling block, which mainly due to the bad decisions taken by policymakers, bureaucrats, and university administrators.

Lack of new teaching methods

The Indian higher education system has been following lecture drive method for several years. This has turned ineffective and not sufficient in many areas. Besides, there is a lack of teacher's learning and development areas need which is should be in the form educating them. There are no approaches like mentoring, spot visits, practical educational tours and involvement in research projects with peers. Finally, one need to change the teacher’s training curriculum along with content, subject and methodology. Teachers must be encouraged take short duration professional training courses, which could help to strengthen the teacher's learning and development areas. Finally, there is no syllabus for integrating development concepts like emotional competencies, life skills and info-savvy skills. etc. Education institutions often lack the emphasis for pointing out on the learning outcomes than content teaching. Many institutions never take the initiative to collaborate or participate with international institutes in order to get the exposure of digital learning methods or technologies.

Increase in profit making institutions

Though private player in the higher education contributes significantly to the growth of the sector, the profit intent of these institutions has threatened the very basic foundation of social development goal. Many private players who are politicians, realtors, businessmen/women mint huge money by creating educational institutions, which had made us to say that no secret that the education industry has long lost its noble cause and is more of a business. This greatly harmed the higher education system.

Government initiatives for the issues

The government has taken a number of initiatives to tackle the reduce the demand supply gap in school education. It has been proposed to set up another 6,000 schools at the block level as model schools to benchmark excellence. Of these, 2000 will be set up under Public Private Partnership. Besides, a new proposal by the Human Resource Development Ministry has been put forward to replace the University Grants Commission, which is the governing body for all the colleges and universities. The new Higher Education Commission of India will also govern the functioning of the universities and colleges but it would give a special power of acting as 'self-governing' bodies.

Conclusion:

Apart from the government initiative more is needed to be done. It includes promising greater autonomy to universities/colleges, developing brand new regulatory environment for upgrading existing institutions into the world-class category. Besides, one has to re look at the entire range of regulations that impact higher education which includes —teacher qualifications, recruitment system, funding system, credit scoring system, teacher progression (API), quality control of private institutions, procedures for financing central/state universities, methodology or schemes for grant of autonomy.

Re-study the old system to find the best regulations, which can help us in a number of ways, like whether the regulations have achieved the objective for which they were conceived; whether, in the current situation and the vision which holds for the future. Moreover, one needs to understand that whether these regulations are necessary in the present form or are they acting as hurdles in the path to reform.

With the announcement of the new higher education body, one needs to lay emphasis to change the mode from a ‘regulator’ to a ‘promoter and facilitator’. The new body must shed the role of being a ‘licensor’.

Finally, there is must be a broad based academic development plan which includes students, professors, researchers and teachers for all kinds of consultations. Since most of the educational institutions are run by either big private players or the government. Many most of the top brass refuses to meet or discuss with them. As great reforms are done for the benefits of students and society, they should be included for implementing any new reforms.

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