Challenges of Indian Higher Education

India has always been a land of scholars and learners. In ancient times also, India was regarded all over the world for its universities of excellence like Taxila, Nalanda and Vikram Shila. Thanks to the British- who changed the focus of Indian Education system, which rewarded in many of our present-day concern.

The present scenario is a mix-match of demand and supply. This imbalance is too large in North- Eastern Region of India, where higher education is limited and lack of students every year migrates to metro cities like that of Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune etc for their further studies.

The youth of India is the strength of the country and only 11.1% of whom had the opportunity to go for higher studies as compared to 20% in China though with the introduction of Right to Educationthe Gross Enrolment ratio in Higher Education has marginally improved. If we look at the statistics of higher education- we will be too glad to read the same. With just 20 Universities in the country in 1950- today we have over 677 Universities in the Country reflecting a growth of 34 times.

But the other side of the statistic is very discouraging. Somebody has rightly characterized India’s higher education as ‘Standard of Excellence in a sea of Mediocrity”. 25% of our teaching positions in the University are lying vacant. Many of the Central University and Institution top administrative post are lying vacant and being taken care, again by, lower level staff, who lack experience, competence and leadership. The “Research” and Innovation” has been replaced by “politics” and this is precise, there is no true frame for research and they overstay in the university as they don’t have anything better to do. Later, they join politics. All these help in lowering the quality of higher education in the country. Yes, we do have few islands of excellence such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or IIM etc. They are few in numbers and after obtaining their degrees, how many of them really stay in India? It is sometimes that again needs to be researched?

The dilemma of higher education has yet another angle. To meet the supply and demand gap, the Government during the last decade encouraged private Investment in higher education. No doubt that today over 60% of higher education is in the hands of private sector. Except for few private sector institutions, many of them are nothing but working like shop to make money without proper investment in infrastructure and human resource. Though they charge much higher fees than the government institution, yet they pay much less to their faculty. This is a true concern for private sector institution. But on the other side, the Central Government and State Government, Higher Education Institutions and Universities suffer political appointment based on ideology rather than competence and excessive money with no accountability is yet another cause of the downfall of higher education in India. Right man at right post does not find a place. Vice Chancellor is supposed to be the academician who takes the research and development of Universities fast forward. But in practice- what they do? Work like a clerk in passing the small bills and presiding over one after another meeting, which can easily be avoided. Why can’t as a trial, we have an IAS Officer of senior grade as registrar of University and an IRS Officer as Finance Officer. Things can be changed and changed for better, provided the intentions are clear. Is HRD Listening?

Dr.K.K Jhunjhunwala