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INTRODUCTION "A university stands for Humanism, for Tolerance, for Reason, for the Adventure of Ideas and

for the search for Truth. It stands for the onward march of human race towards ever-higher objectives. If the universities discharge their duties adequately then it is well with the nation and the people. Jawaharlal Nehru

The recently released ARWU List of the worlds best universities1 featuring 500 institutions from across the world lists only two Indian universities2. This list might appropriately serve as a warning bell to the educational policymakers of this country to realize that the time has come for a reality check. The list forces us to ask questions such as where is the educational system in India headed to? Are we missing the whole point of education? Is it acceptable, keeping in mind the future of the country, that students join the higher educational institutes with the mere intention of acquiring a degree? After all, the whole point of education must be enable the student to acquire those skills that are required for performing efficiently in the future whether as an employee of a multinational company or as an academician. The possession of a mere degree is not a reliable indicator that the student possess such skills as an ability to analyze critically or to introduce original ideas through proper research. But, the focus of our educational policymakers seems to be to produce more and more graduates each year. The course structure at most institutes is exam-oriented. As a result, students feel constrained to concentrate more on answering exam papers, which restricts them from devoting time to developing their analytical skills or critical faculties through research and practical application.


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Available at The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

With respect to research, the performance of Indian institutes is not very encouraging. Only one percent of the GDP is spent on research as opposed to the US which spends 2.7 %.3 The quality of Indian research papers is not generally high given the fact that Indian research papers are cited an average of 3.2 times compared to 12.3 in the United States this puts India in the 119th position out of 149 countries.4 There is not much incentive for teaching faculty to spend time on research and the governments encouragement for research work in the form of promotions or creation of endowed chairs is required to change this state of affairs. Thus, India produces less than 10 Ph.Ds per million population whereas in the United States the figure is 100 in a million.5

RECOMMENDATIONS Course Curriculum: Courses offered in the field of science and technology should be made on par with Western university. There should be no scope for any gap between the syllabus offered in India and that offered in the West. A Central body must be established to review the course curriculum of the national-level science and technology institutes in India. The same central body may review the curriculum for humanities courses offered throughout the country. Teaching of outdated material should be discouraged and the body must recommend the works of the most acclaimed authors for the courses. Also, students need not be confined to only text-books and should be required to study journals and articles relevant to their subjects. This will not only increase the depth of their knowledge but will also keep them acquainted with the recent developments in the fields of their study.

S. Vaidyhysubramaniam, It is Time We Rewrote Indias Research Story, The Hindu, Open Page, July 23, 2011 Working Paper No. 180 of ICRIER (New Delhi: 2006) 5 Suranjan Das, The Higher Education in India and the Challenge of Globalization, Social Scientist, Vol. 35, No. 3/4 (Mar. Apr., 2007), p. 53
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Research Guidelines: Students should be encouraged to research, not forced. Research topics should always be granted to groups of students rather than individual students so as to reduce the burden of work, and to make the completion of the task more realistic. At the same time, there should be stringent rules against plagiarizing.

Student Evaluation: Evaluation of students should not be restricted to merely writing end-term exam papers. Instead, the approach should be on a round-the-term evaluation that takes into account not only the end-term exam paper but also research work, completion of projects and class performance. This way, students will be encouraged to think and work throughout the term instead of just preparing for the end-semester paper. This approach should be made compulsory.

Government Spending on Higher Education and Research Higher Education There is not adequate spending on higher education and research by the Government in India. This is one of the main reasons why higher education is suffering in India. For example, the allocation for higher education constituted a mere 0.37 percent of the GDP in 2003-04.6 The total government spending per student in higher education declined by 28 % between the years 1995 to 2007.7 There is a requirement for a massive increase in the budget allocation for higher education. This money can be invested in the following areas:

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Ibid Ibid


Infrastructure: Money needs to be invested in building labs, libraries, hostels, more classrooms and to provide internet connectivity at institutes.


Academic Profession: The teaching profession, unfortunately, attracts for the most part those candidates who have not been able to secure jobs elsewhere. If education is to improve, the quality of teachers needs to go up. Thus, the salaries in the academic profession need to be raised so as to make the profession more attractive to bright candidates who otherwise choose lucrative jobs.

Research As noted above, India lacks behind in the field of research as well. One way to deal with this problem is to incentivize research work by creating endowments for excellence in research work.