Higher Education Institutes

21st March – Higher Education Institutes

Need for reorientation

Out of about a thousand higher education institutions (HEIs) that are authorised to award degrees in India, about 400 are state public universities that produce over 90% of our graduates (including those from the colleges affiliated to them) and contribute to about one-third of the research publications from this country.

An abomination –

Their poor quality is evidenced by their poor performance in institutional rankings, the poor employment status of their students, rather poor quality of their publications, negligible presence in national-level policy/decision-making bodies, poor track record in receiving national awards and recognition, poor share in research funding and so on.

Why do they perform poorly?

Commonly stated reasons for these observations include government/political interference in the management of the university, lack of autonomy, poor governance structures, corruption, poor quality of teachers, outdated curricula, plagiarism, poor infrastructure and facilities, overcrowding, evils of the “affiliation” system and poor linkages with alumni and industry.

Performance of Central HEIs –

They have hardly ever been short of funding and patronage has been ensured by the Central government and its arms; national-level parties, industries and businesses; and the national elite and the intelligentsia. It is the existence of such an unwritten contract at the national level that appears to be the key factor for the performance of these Central government institutions.

Why there are issues with State universities?

  • A similar consensus and contract has never been built between the State universities and State governments, State-level political parties and organisations, industry and businesses; and the elite and the intelligentsia. It is as though State-level players do not have much stake in the stability and performance of the State university system.
  • One reason why State-level players do not feel compelled to back the State university system more strongly could be that the latter does not commit itself to anything that may be of particular interest and value to the State where the university is located.
  • The aims, goals, methods and priorities of these institutions are pretty much the same as those of the Central institutions. The only real value add that the State universities are doing for the State and its people seems to be that of enabling a few lakhs to become graduates every year.

Way forward –

  • In order to receive much more funding and support from the State system then, State universities would have to commit to delivering lots more to the State and its people where they are located.
  • They must come up with a new vision and programmes specifically addressing the needs of the State, its industry, economy and society, and on the basis of it make the State-level players commit to providing full ownership and support to them.
  • In other words establish a contract between the State universities and the State system similar to what seems to be existing between the Central institutions and the Central government and other national-level stakeholders.
  • The initiative to start a larger dialogue on the future of our State universities would have to be taken primarily by the academic community of these institutions.

SourceThe Hindu

QUESTIONThe higher education institutes of state governments do not match up to the quality of central higher educational institutes. Examine the factors behind this mismatch and suggest a way forward.

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