India’s universities are coming apart, political class ignores damage caused by the exit of the ablest from the country

Source- The post is based on the article “India’s universities are coming apart, political class ignores damage caused by the exit of the ablest from the country” published in the “The Indian Express” on 26th April 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Issues related to development and management of education

News– The article explains the issue with academic leadership and governance challenges faced by Indian universities

What are issues with academic leadership in India?

Appointment of academic leadership is guided by the expectation of political allegiance. There are few academics of proven excellence among the leadership appointments in India’s public educational institutions.

Even the best leaders can achieve nothing if they are governed by rigid externally set rules. In India’s higher education ecosystem, these rules appear mainly in the form of the UGC guidelines.

What are governance challenges faced by Indian universities?

In India, performance in teaching and research is not subjected to a professional review. In the case of teaching, courses should be evaluated by students for content and delivery. They are a crucial means of assessing teaching. There is absence of student evaluation.

Research evaluation is a more difficult task and existing methods remain contested. The current practice in India’s universities based on the UGC’s Academic Performance Indicators (API) is flawed.

Scoring of publications based on where a paper has been published is misleading for judging the impact of research on the production of knowledge.

Moreover, some of the activities counted under the API system are unnecessary. Scoring of publications puts a burden on India’s universities in terms of time and resources.

A second area  is admission to courses of study and hiring of faculty. Both student admission and faculty hiring requires a minimum grade and the subject studied for the previous degree. India’s universities have strict rules on these matters. It causes emigration of talent to the universities of the West.

Many of India’s public institutions are controlled by a rule-bound bureaucracy without the incentive to bring about a change.

What is the way forward for improving the governance of Indian universities?

The practice of numerical scoring of research output must be avoided for a more holistic approach.

Global best practices in the evaluation of academic performance are known. India should learn from the best aspects. It is the rules governing research rather than funding that is key to research output in Indian universities.

The UGC should leave this matter of admission and faculty hiring to academic bodies. There should be external oversight in the selection of faculty.

Universities are meant to engage in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. This requires an unconditional commitment to free speech. The university should not be made hostage to the whims and ideologies of the state.

Universities of the West have largely remained free of the state even when they receive public funds. It is the single most important reason for their success.

For the university, neither infrastructure nor less stringent rules can be a substitute for the total freedom of expression.

Print Friendly and PDF