Higher education in focus
India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the US. However, the system is limping because of a variety of issues of concern related to funding, management, enhancement of quality, reorientation of the programmes and above all making the system globally competitive. It is estimated that Indians spend approximately $ 5 billion a year for enabling their children to go abroad for higher studies. A natural question that arises in this context is that what prevents India from developing into a global hub for higher studies? Already Asian countries like Japan, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and S. Korea are investing heavily in their higher education system for positioning themselves for leadership. The recent ranking of the world’s top 200 universities by Times Higher Education shows how well these countries are making their progress. The rank list includes 11 universities in Japan, six in China, five in Hong Kong, four in S.Korea, and two each in India and Singapore. Creating a higher education system for the country comparable to the best in the world has now become one of the critical priorities for our nation’s future because knowledge is the real driving force of our economy. We are quite aware of the challenges involved in fulfilling this task. India has a distinct advantage in this respect. We are already producing a large pool of qualified technical manpower. And many of our people find rewarding employment and promising career opportunities abroad. But, competition has become the hallmark of growth world over. Therefore, if we are to increasingly cash on this advantage and at the same time meet the growing domestic demand to support our booming economy, we need to take immediate steps to renovate and rejuvenate our higher education to bring it on par with the best in the world. It was unfortunate that for many decades quality was not a priority for us. It is time that we are competitive in this sector also. In spite of all our drawbacks, India has a few unique advantages over the other Asian countries. For example, the use of English as a primary language for higher education and for research is a plus point of our system. We have a long academic tradition to be proud of. Indian education was the best in the world in the ancient times. Our ancient great centres of learning like Nalanda and Taxila were world-renowned. We do have a few world-class institutions and centres of excellence. They can form the nucleus of our future institutions of excellence. Blindly following the American model will not be the right approach for us to produce the desired result. We may have to create our own academic models appropriate to the needs of our nation and at the same time meeting the global demands and standards. Let us look forward to the recent steps initiated by the Government of India to make the academic system vibrant in order to create a launching pad that will push forward our economic growth.
Dr. G.P.C.Nayar , Chairman, SCMS Group