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Is college education in India not world class?

Before saying whether college education in India is world class or not, I would like to tell about a few global personalities. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Software major Microsoft graduated from MIT in India. So did the new CEO of Nokia. Continuing the list Narayan Murthy(Infosys founder), Azim Premji(Wipro founder), Dr.Devishetty (leading Cardiac surgeon), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan(Chemistry Nobel Prize winner), Nithin Nohria (Harvard Dean) all had most of their college education in India. Barack Obama recently said in a speech that American students will have to work harder otherwise they would be overtaken by Indian students. Hence telling that College education in India is not world class one will be belittling ourselves in front of others.

The problem with College education in India is not only that of Quality. IISC is one among the top 20 universities in the world.4 IIT's figure among the top 100 colleges in the world.3 IIM's are among the top 20 management institutes in the world. Quality is present but only at very few places like the ones mentioned above and quality of intake into them are drastically low when compared to our college going youth.1 IISC,13 IIM's, handful of IIT's, NIT's, AIIMS, MIT, etc produce quality students but they cater to not even 1% of students. For such a large nation like ours, these are just not enough. Creating such institutes is not easy because we lack Infrastructural capabilities and there is shortage of Teachers, Professors and lecturers.

Moreover College education system in India is oriented more towards marks and grades than on knowledge. This leads to superficial knowledge. A more industry oriented and knowledge oriented education system will produce quality youth for the country. This requires a major transformation of our Education system. Industry and Private sector will have to take a more active part in the education system to accomplish this transformation because they will ultimately be benefitted with quality students to hire from. Tie-up with global varsities for bringing their branches to India can solve part of the problem.

We should feel sorry to see scores and scores of Engineers and Doctors opting for GRE, GMAT and other competitive exams to pursue their higher education abroad. Most of them end up working and settling there leading to Brain drain. It would be unfair to blame them completely for this because the other country offered them better opportunities to grow. Instead we will have to strengthen our college education system to reverse this trend.

Good colleges are present only in few cities. Effort will have to be made to provide rural students good colleges. Presently India has a very large share of youth. We have to address all their educational requirements.

Other countries like China spend a significant percentage of their GDP on higher education. India lags behind them in spending on higher education. This can be attributed to the focus mainly given to poverty alleviation, improvement of literacy rate, primary education, etc but the Government will have to find a balance between these spendings. Most of the students are not able to excel in college because of their poor school training. Hence focus should also be on Primary and High school education as it is a prerequisite for college education. Nevertheless utmost importance should be given to College education because only better graduates can shape a bright future for India.

Every government has tried to increase the quality and scale of college education but whatever has been done is just not enough for a fast growing nation like ours. At a time when India wants to dominate the global scene, it needs highly qualified and competent people. This is possible only by world class quality education on a large scale. Overnight one cannot expect drastic changes to happen but sustained efforts over a few years with the help of the Government, private sector and public will definitely take our nation to never before seen heights.

Harshavardhan