Strategic issues of Indian Tertiary Level Education for 2047

Prof. (Dr.) D. Mukhopadhyay

The higher education system in India has grown in multiple way during last seventy five years and it has emerged to be one of the largest education delivery systems in the world. However, the system is not flawless and it has many addressable issues of serious concern with regard to financing , management , governance , access, equity , relevance, reorientation of programs by laying emphasis on values and ethics , health and fitness consciousness and quality of higher education and related accreditation. These issues are of herculean importance for the country in order to make higher education as a powerful tool to build a knowledge-based and digital technology driven society of the 21st Century. Under the given backdrop, the universities have to perform multiple roles in cultivating new knowledge, acquiring new capabilities and producing an intelligent human resource reservoir and pool through challenging teaching, research and extension activities so as to balance both the need and the demand for the university and higher education management organs , regulatory authorities and allied auxiliary advisory bodies nationwide are to act in change managing and proactive responsive manner . In may not be out of place to mention that Indian education is quantity based and quality has hardy received any room and as a sequel of this irrational growth, only few institutions of higher education and universities are in the list of global ranking . The new challenge before the nation is to become a developed economy by the year 2047 which requires not only a vibrant economic society driven by knowledge which needs to be ushered by leaps and bounds but also a new society where justice and human values must be allowed to prevail. Moreover, challenges in higher education are no longer just the nation centric but world centric too and therefore higher education delivery system has to attain global dimensions particularly after trade in services brought under the purview of the WTO regime. Competition has become a hallmark of growth all over the world including India and the Darwinism maxim ‘survival for the fittest ‘ is going to rule the globe and India is of course included there. With the remarkable growth of knowledge in the forgone century and development of handy tools of information and communication technologies and other scientific innovations made the style of living remarkably restless and it is a great challenge before the society to continue its pursuit for the day to day progress and technological development and keeping pace therewith . As a result, knowledge is not only going to be the driver of economy, it is also going to permeate into all the strata of Indian society for better quality of life and comfortable and dignified living conditions. Therefore, India has to rise to the occasion without further loss of time and integrates herself with the new education policy and reorient its higher education system with the modern education delivery and knowledge creation process as adopted by the economically developed societies in the world in order to become an intellectually vibrant, economically competitive, socially meaningful and futuristically purposeful Nation on the Earth. It may be mentioned that there is absolutely no workable substitute to quality of higher education withoutwhich economicadvancement and upliftmen of the Indian society is possible. After a long research and experiments, an inclusive education policy has been declared by the Government of India but proper implementation is the decisive factor for its success. The new education policy aims at achieving socio-economic transformation and it can achieve its mission only when the existing universities and institutions of higher education start to come out of the conservative purpose and process of producing unemployable graduates. The campus are to be interconnected with corporate sector and the industries and the education standard formulating bodies are to necessarily induct the representatives of the merchant houses and chamber of commerce such as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the universities should formulate and design such course-curricula which is not only pragmatically connected with prevalent legacy but also progressive intellectual development . The university and tertiary education delivery system has to be application oriented and skill generating and problem-solving oriented. The country has been facing for a long time serious problem of only meeting the quantity driven educational policies but it needs revision keeping in view the requirements of modern society. The Indian diaspora is to keep in view the degree of difficulty to walk along its counterparts on permanent basis unless India consciously prioritize quality driven education over the quantity based system. There about 900 Universities and institutions of higher learning in the country but even five percent of the same do not meet the global standard. The quality of higher education is certainly a grave concern for the policy formulators and decision makers today. Various research and commission reports have been recommending for its improvement and practical application. It is also observed that Government and other constitutional quality conscious agencies are taking necessary action. But these alone will not likely to serve the purpose unless the universities, institutions of higher education and university and college teachers take proactive initiatives and measures. Only research is the knowledge producing process and therefore quality teaching and research are the twin perspectives of tertiary level education. Moreover, filtering process should be in place and only the passionate students attributed with deep thirst for research should only be encoucouraged. Jobs and provision of employment should be made available for each level of education and production of skilled graduates should be the principal motto of the universities. Moreover, quality education is the need of the hour for long term sustainability of the country and challenge of foreign universities and institutions of higher learning entering the Indian higher education market is surely going to pose the fierce threat which will make existence of poor performing institutions out of the education sector. The basic purpose of university level of higher education system is to impart in-depth knowledge and understanding so as to advance the learners to the new frontiers of knowledge in different heterogeneous walks of life. It should act as the pivotal force to develop the student ability to questionand making theminquisitive for knowing truth besides making the students and learners competent to becoming critical thinkers on contemporary socioeconomic issues. Higher education’s objective is certainly not only to make an individual land in a highly materialistic- remunerative career but also to make the learners a good Samaritan and ‘man’ in the version of Swami Vivekananda. It should equip the students with the intellectual creativity along with imbibing them with specialized expertise in any domain of knowledge creation so that a learner is able to perceive a wider perspective of the world around. It is perhaps apt to address the predominant concept of higher education and Ronald Barnett is worthy example for mentioning. According to the wisdom of Barnett, higher education as the production of qualified human resources which may imply that higher education becomes input to the growth and development of trade, industry and commerce. Higher education should aim at producing trained researchers as research in any discipline is the only instrument for taking the society from one stage of progress to the subsequent stages of socio-economic advancement. Barnett is very clear to opine that higher education is the tool for producing qualified scientists and researchers who are expected to continuously create and develop new knowledge society. Quality research is of high relevance which speaksof research, research publications and transmission of academic rigor enabling to formulate methodologies for transformation of the society. Higher education deals with efficient management of teaching profession and it is reasoned to strongly believe that teaching is the core of educational institutions and research comes next. Therefore higher education institutions comprising of the league of the universities both State and Central, deemed Universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs , ICAI, ICMAI, ICSI, IISc, and others should channelize their resources to focus on efficient management of teaching-learning provisions by improving the quality of teaching, enabling a higher completion rate among the students and promoting best teaching-learning-research practices which shall become effective in producing value-additive professionals, medical practitioners, good teachers with higher degree of moral and ethical values. Higher education as a matter of extending life chances which should be seen as spring board to creating opportunity for developmental process of individual through a flexible, continuing education mode and life-long learning mode. It is imperative to mention that all aspects of higher education mentioned here are not exhaustive but illustrative. If someone looks at the academic activities of colleges and universities, it may easily be realized that teaching, research and extension of knowledge from more knowledgeable persons to less knowledgeable persons are the basic tenets of higher education. Now, questions arise as how to make all constituents of higher education delivery and knowledge dissemination system more and more pragmatic for meeting the contemporary needs of the society. University level education is generally perceived to cover teaching, research and extension of scientific and technological advancement with a view to promoting economic growth of a country. Development of indigenous technologies and capabilities in agriculture, food security and other industrial arenas are the possible outcomes of university level education. 21st Century may be termed to be the society driven by knowledge and economic, social, technological and social changes are the basic constituents of knowledge society. India can attain the status of economically strong, socially vibrant, technologically second to none and academically advanced par excellent provided she adopts measures to obtain top management commitment for making India industrially strong nation, university teachers deliver time-honored knowledge with both in terms of knowledge acquisition and transmission, she is ready to provide excellent infrastructure, in the campus for simulative student learning along with co-curricular and extracurricular activities , emotive and positive attitude towards students leading to congenial learning environment, believing 360 degree feedback of the stakeholders for overall improvement and constant feedback from the students leading to continuous improvement in the process may work as the key to achieving excellence for which the society is anxiously waiting. India has to provide sustainable quality higher education to all strata of the society in order to become a member of the economically advantageous and privileged league of the nations in the globe. (The author is FCMA, FCS, CPFA, FCMI, FIPA, FCFA, CMA, Dip. M. ACC, MCSI, FFA, FAIA.)