- Raising the quality of higher education should be priority of the government
- In its report on higher education for the Twelfth plan, the erstwhile Planning Commission identified expansion, inclusion, and excellence as three pillars for growth.
- The government had the theme of excellence in its 2016 annual budget, with a proposal to make 10 institutions each in public and private sectors globally competitive.
- The challenge of excellence lies in developing liberal institutions, high scholarship, and equitable access for all classes of students.
- Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development decided to give Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to following six institutions:
- The public institutions are- the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) Delhi and Mumbai.
- The private institutions are –the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, the Jio Institute; and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
6 These IoEs can become models of autonomy, academic innovation and equity of access and can also lead to a transformation of higher education.
7. The selection of Jio, which is yet to come up, generated controversy.
8. The idea of developing centers of higher learning advances the Nehruvian vision of building ‘temples of modern India’.
9. Following suggestions can be adopted in order to improve higher education:
- There is need for urgent reform during selection process.
- Several State universities had a low output because some of them had several faculty members recruited on contract basis with no incentive to do research.
- Public universities should be free from political interference.
- Vice-chancellor should be appointed on merit, free of ideological biases.
- The selected public institutions need to motivate for doing research work. There is also need to raise public expenditure on R& D of these institutions.
- According to the UNESCO data, among countries with comparable research output, India with 0.8% R&D spending trails Russia, Brazil, South Korea and Singapore.
- Raise quality of higher education in all institutions through academic reform.