Higher Education in India-An Analysis

The problems that confront higher education in India today are:

  • low rates of enrolment, unequal access, poor quality of infrastructure and lack of relevance.
  • Another challenge that confronts India is in the disparities in access to education, especially in terms of economic class, gender, caste and ethnic and religious belonging.
  • The corresponding decline in government and private-aided institutions.
  • The high cost of private education has affected access by the poor to education.
  • unequal opportunities have developed unequal human capabilities and converted education into an instrument to further economic inequalities.
  • Ensuring quality textbooks is another point.
  • Enabling an education that is relevant to the economy and society is another challenge.
  • Another issue relates to reform in the UGC.

Fodder Points:

  • One out of every seven children born in India goes to college.
  • India has one of the poorest Gross Enrolment Ratios (GER) for higher education in the world.
  • Institutions like IISc, IIT, ISRO, BARC, DRDO etc are making progress in their respective fields.
  • HEFA to tackel fund mobilization
  • Indian government has also launched SWAYAM.
  • Recently government has promoted some schemes like GIAN, HEFA and online assistance program under digital India program to strengthen the higher education.

Possible Solutions:

  • There are two ways to deal with it. First, public and private aided institutions must be strengthened and expanded and the expansion of self-financing private institutions restricted to a reasonable level. However, given the political economy of private institutions, the chances of this happening are slim.
  • The alternative would be to extend ‘poor-friendly’ financial assistance by setting up a government finance organisation, based on the models in Australia and Canada. 
  • The quality of higher education is an equally serious problem. In this area, the 11th Plan recognised three areas for interventions — physical infrastructure, academic reform and ensuring adequate faculty.
  • Infrastructure can be improved with an increase in financial allocation. Academic reform — which includes semester and credit systems, courses by choice, and examination reform — is a process which should be advanced only after the pre-requisites are met. In the case of faculty, which is an issue that has assumed serious proportions, several steps were effected in the 11th Plan.
  • A solution demands joint efforts being put in by the Centre and States. One way, and as a one-time effort, is to enforce the University Grant Commission’s (UGC) teacher-student ratio for each State, and ensure that the financial requirement of additional faculty is shared by the Centre and States.
  • Now that teaching in most undergraduate and State universities is in the regional languages, good textbooks and quality translations from the original English books are a must if a student is to make progress. The three-language formula needs to be adhered to. Teaching in the regional languages would make understanding relatively easy while minimal language competence in English should facilitate student access to English books. An example that can be cited is in Japan where translations have enabled greater educational access for the student.
  • To allow foreign educational institutions to enter into collaborations with Indian institutions on a large scale. In turn, this will help in enhancing capabilities as far as curricular and pedagogical practices, and student-faculty exchanges go.
  • For quality institutions, autonomy as far as academic and administrative aspects are involved is a must. 
  • The framing of successful policies requires reliable data, and on multiple aspects. We need to emulate the model in the United Kingdom which has an institute for education statistics, as policy making with reliable data has a high propensity towards success.




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