Can Indian universities and colleges take up the task of producing workers for the knowledge society?

Source: The post is based on an article Can Indian universities and colleges take up the task of producing workers for the knowledge society?” published in The Indian Express on 20th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues related to education

Relevance: problems associated with higher educational institutions and ways to solve the problems.

News: The University Grants Commission has recently notified its guidelines for transforming Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) into autonomous institutions.

This will help to transform colleges to either multidisciplinary universities or degree-awarding autonomous institutions by 2035.

It is based on the objectives of the National Education Policy 2020.

However, this transformation will be not enough for improving the education in HEIs and there is more required.

What is the current situation of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in India?

According to the Global employability surveys, less than 10 Indian institutions are in the top 500.

Another survey states that there are a large number of unemployable graduates.

What are the problems associated with Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in India?

Poor teaching methods that are not in line with the relevant skills required by students for employment.

Higher educational institutions in India are mostly state-funded. Thus, they do not suffer in terms of resources when they hire poor quality faculty or when the selected faculty does not upgrade their skills.

UGC has introduced multiple mechanisms such as grading systems, made financial grants dependent on grades obtained in order to improve the condition of educations in HEIs.

However, due to its non-binding nature, Universities are not prevented from free-riding on the success of other linked universities.

Why is ensuring accountability of HEIs utmost important now?

NEP emphasizes that higher educational institutions should become autonomous. But, there is no mechanism available that can ensure accountability.

However, quasi market accountability is present in the market in the form of competition through the Academic Bank of Credits program, Edtech companies, digital learning providers, employer schemes and industry bodies.

Now the monopoly of traditional institutions over content delivery and acting as quality signaling agencies, is on the decline.

This competition will make institutions accountable to learners for not delivering quality educations. Further, this accountability will make it difficult for universities to ask for funds from the government.

Also, formal institutions of learning blocks the free adaptation of learning due to institutional rigidities due to institutional rigidities.

What should be the course of action?

The mode of appointments of teachers in universities has to be re-examined so that universities recruit the best possible candidates. The mechanism should be made binding. If universities do not follow the guidelines, then proper action should be taken against them.

knowledge creation and upgradation must be made participatory. HEIs must adopt an “Open-Source strategy” where they can source expertise from different people or experts.

The UGC’s recent proposal of allowing educational institutions to hire experts as “Professors of Practice” is an attempt to rectify this problem.

The recruitment criteria set by HEIs can be made flexible which would allow lateral entries to those who have expertise in different fields.

The traditional methods of teaching can be taken out of the curriculum of the institutions and more recent methods should be introduced in its place.

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