Revitalization of Indian Higher Education Delivery System

Prof. D. Mukhopadhyay
Higher education system in India has been suffering from different maladies and the most prominent among those include lack of competitive and conducive educational environment. Quality research is the nucleus of the soul of progress in higher education. Indian higher education system has a very rich history and the same is well known to all over the world. Nalanda, Takshahila, Ujjain and Vikramshila were the famous seats of higher education and learning in India and all of them existed in the first millennium. The subjects taught in these universities include Art, Architecture, Philosophy, Astronomy, Literature Economics, Law, Medicine and Religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism etc. Each of the Universities was specialized in a particular field of study. For instance, Takshahila was famous for Medicine, Ujjain was a prominent seat of learning in Astronomy and Nalanda was used to house almost all disciplines. The education system that is in vogue currently was introduced by the recommendations of Lord Macaulay in Nineteenth Century. The British Government tried to introduce an education system that was helpful in running the day to day British administration in the country. The seed of present higher education system was sowed by the British Government in 1857 when University of Calcutta, University of Bombay and University of Madras came into being and responsibility of imparting higher education was entrusted with them.
There were 20 Universities and about 500 Colleges in India when she got her independence from the British rulers in 1947. Thereafter, The University Grants Commission was established in November, 1956 by dint of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 whose responsibility was to promote higher education and maintain higher education standards in the country. As on date, more than 900 Universities and 39,000 Colleges are engaged in promoting higher education and advancement of research in the country. The higher education system is expected to impart knowledge, develop learners’ ability and make him or her competent enough so that he can take part in nation building by providing solutions to different socio-economic problems. Indian higher education system is the third largest education system next to China being the second largest higher education system and the United States of America being the first in the world. Framework of higher education includes Colleges, Institutes of National Importance like Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, Universities, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Cost Accountants of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Institutes of Polytechnics etc. Again among the Universities, some are Central Universities, some are State Universities and some are Private Universities. India has a federal structure of administration and imparting education is included in the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution meaning thereby that both the Central Government and State Governments are jointly responsible for imparting education and training to citizens of the country. Regulatory Bodies include the University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education, Council of Architecture etc. It may be observed that there has been an eye-catching growth in Indian higher education imparting system after Independence but that is in term of quantity and not quality. To call a spade a spade, hardly any Indian Institutes of higher learning get a room in the list of top 200 world ranked Universities and this is a serious issue which needs to be seriously pondered and addressed by the policy formulators and decision makers , academicians and researchers as to how to enhance Indian higher education standards and research keeping in view the global standards. Indian higher education has a low rate of enrolment which is measured with Gross Enrolment Ratio and it is about 21% whereas the same is 26% in case of China and 36% in case of the United States of America. Indian higher education suffers from quality research due to which very few Indian higher educational institutions are internationally recognized.
It may be seen that number of research papers publication has been increasing continuously during last few years in India but the same suffers from low citations impact in comparison to the other countries such as China, Germany, France, United States of America and many more countries in the world. It is also mentionable that most of the Indian Universities’ curricula contain out-dated subjects and irrelevant and not time-honoured disciplines. It may not be out of place to mention that more than 30% faculty positions are lying vacant decades after decade in many Indian Universities and Institutes of higher learning and as result student-teachers ratio is very high. It needs hardy any mention that most of the Colleges and Universities suffer from inadequate infrastructure, laboratories and other incidental facilities. It can also be seen that there does not exist interface between industries and the educational institutes and consequently unemployable graduates are produced by the Indian Universities. The overall scenario of trends and prospect of higher education in India is not very encouraging and it does not match with international quality standards. The Indian higher education is attributed with increased number of educated unemployable graduates, increased unrest and indiscipline in the University campuses and students are found to be directionless and in most of the time they engage themselves in destructive activities which act detrimental to the interest of students and the nation by and large.
The students are the future of the country and overall well being of the nation is in the hands of them and this aspect hardly get prominence in national debate and discussion forums. Therefore it is high time to adopt appropriate measures to concentrate on the issues that can make Indian higher education meaningful and significant in order to meet the contemporary national cause. The purpose of education needs to be redefined and the same is to be disseminated among the people. The emergence of globalization worldwide and its influence and impact has to be acknowledged with logical thoughts and consideration. It has been mentioned that there are multiple number of higher education regulatory bodies in India. The regulatory bodies such as University Grants Commission, Distance Education Council, National Council for Teachers Education, Bar Council of India, Medical Council of INDIA, Pharmacy Council of India, Indian Nursing Council, Dentist Council of India, Central Council of Homeopathy and other regulatory bodies for the profession of chartered accountancy, cost and management accountancy, company secretaries profession etc are required to review and relook their course curricula for revision and make time honoured provision for imparting the purposeful education and training in order to empower the prospective human resource and make the same competitive globally. It is the time for those who are entrusted with the responsibility for policy formulation, planning, academic administration and implementation of higher education policies keeping in view the world trends and direction to redraw higher education dissemination methodologies in order to meet the national and international needs.
It is a common trend in India that many highly trained professionals choose not to serve and contribute to the cause of economic development but they serve other countries and contribute immensely in their well being. It is therefore necessary for the country to ponder over this issue and create congenial environment when the talented human resource get motivated to serve the country and make the country economically self-sufficient and self-reliant. It may be mentioned that majority of the Indian students do not return to the country after obtaining higher education in the economically and technologically advanced countries such as the United States of America. Indian higher education system now faces challenges mostly in qualitative term. The stalwarts of higher education system feel that performance of higher education institutions is quite unsatisfactory and not capable to meet the challenges of the present century whose 20% time span is over and India could hardly achieve any remarkable milestone in higher education sector so far. Research in higher education is in dismal state and it needs due attention immediately. The country needs to have all round reform agenda for higher education promotion and nurturing. There are so many parts of the country which are yet to be covered by the reach of higher education system . The entire higher education delivery mechanism needs to be modernized in order to make the country avail skillful and professionally trained and qualified manpower. The purpose of higher education system cannot simply be degree awarding responsibility but to provide purposive education so that the same is not devoid of usage value. Innovation and creativity are to be given due space in higher education system. The Government and policy makers are to consider for allocation of higher budget for education sector in order to upgrade education and research facilities.
(The author is Professor of Management and Vice Chancellor at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra)