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The key to transforming the Indian higher education ecosystem

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

By Dr. Supriya S. Shidhaye Principal, Vivekanand Education Society's College Of Pharmacy

The Government of India has rolled out key reform processes to lay the framework for sustainable growth and development of the Indian education sector. Higher Education Institutes (HEI) will be encouraged to adopt competitive benchmarking practices to raise the standards of Indian academics. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has stated that as part of the reform initiatives, research and innovation would remain the key parameter while assessing the performance ratings of HEIs.

The motivation behind initiating the reforms was the disheartening fact that that none of the leading Indian universities found a mention in the top 200 QS World University Rankings. With a view to get a correct assessment of the situation, the Government of India initiated a national ranking process with the establishment of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) in 2015 under the (MHRD). The first results brought out by the NIRF in April 2016 and 2017 indicated that top ranking institutions in the country were mostly public funded central universities.

In order to upgrade the credentials of Indian HEIs and bring them on par with global standards, the NIRF has recommended the establishment of clear parameters which lay onus on faculty qualifications and experience, the quality of their publications, patents and projects with industry and university results. The parameters would also encompass key focus areas like mobility of students to high ranking universities across the globe, placements, quality of placements and perception of the institution in the minds of concerned stakeholders including employers.  

As part of a quality mandate initiated by the AICTE and recommendations of the UGC, students will be mandated to refresh the fundamental concepts and improve language skills as part of a mandatory induction training. Universities will be required to design curriculums wherein 50% of the syllabi will emphasize on experiential and hands-on learning. Teaching-learning processes will be made more interactive with the increased use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The quality mandate of AICTE to upgrade the learning standards in technical institutes remains a key focus area as only one-third of 7 to 8 lakh students graduating from engineering institutions across India are deemed employable. Also, only 50 percent fresh graduates join their core study areas.

Institutions have been recommended to shift their instructional emphasis from an “input-centric and credential-focused” approach to a more “learner-centric” methodology. The transition is to be achieved revising curricula regularly, implementing a choice-based credit system, introducing continuous and comprehensive student evaluations and implementing a cumulative grade point system with new marking and grading schemes.

The Government of India and the MHRD have rolled out key reform initiatives to boost the global rankings of Indian universities and boost the country’s learning systems. The initiatives chiefly focus on international collaboration, industry-institute partnership, innovations and interdisciplinary research which remain key to reorienting the standards of higher education and positioning India as a global education hub.

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