All over the globe, academic institutions mature with time, and hence, they last hundreds of years with growing grace but this is not the case in India. This brings to notice the issues and challenges being faced by universities in India.

 

Focus on rankings can help to reform and modernise higher education, encouraging universities to professionalise services and management, and improve the quality of their programmes and facilities for students and faculty.

 

Issues:

 

  • Since Independence Indian focus on expanding the higher education sector has been to provide access. This has led to a situation where research and scholarship have been neglected.
  • Also the infrastructure of many universities is abysmal.
  • Governments and their regulators have also weakened the abilities of universities by prescribing how every decision had to be made and how the lecture could be imagined.
  • Teaching quality in Indian Universities is bad.
  • Issues with the latest move to provide graded autonomy to institutions. With this move, the institutions will have to generate their own funds for many of the freedoms they are being granted. So, they would be subject to the dictates of the market. Consequently, professional courses may get money but not the core social sciences or sciences.
  • There would be pressure to move towards paying courses. Those not catering to the markets would be marginalised and the generation of the socially relevant knowledge would decline.

 

Suggestions:

 

  • Unless the government spending on higher education doubles, India’s institutions and students therein will remain impoverished. So, government should increase the budget for education sector.
  • A systematic, coherent, and transparent approach is needed to determine the suitability of universities to pursue objectives of excellence.
  • Government can establish all India educational services which was recommended by the Subramanian committee.
  • The scrutiny of universities before starting programs or schools should come down, as they are expected to assume greater responsibility in having self-regulating mechanisms and internal quality assurance systems.
  • Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) can prove be a real game changer for higher education in the country.
  • Taking inspiration from the Project 5-100 initiative, India could consider empowering 50 of its top universities in every possible manner to seek global excellence.

 

Governments should aim to develop a diverse range of universities each with specialist world-class expertise, to attract high-achieving students and high-skilled labour. Building such a world-class higher education system would enable countries to mobilise and leverage the potential of the whole system for the benefit of society at large.

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