What holds 2014 for higher education?
Abhay Anand, 21 May 2014


Panjab University’s presence in globalrankings was one of the bright spots of 2013

THE year 2013 was a mixed bag for the higher education sector in India. It saw some promising things happen for the sector’s better future. But some moves were not very good, setting the whole education system back by a few decades. Now that New Year has begun, ushering in new hopes and with the country facing Lok Sabha elections by mid-year, there are lots of optimistic expectations for the higher education sector.

 

Good tidings

Certainly one of the good things that happened in the year 2013 was the rise of Panjab University as it figured above the IITs in global rankings. Dr Harivansh Chaturvedi, Alternate President of the Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI) said, “Best moment for the year 2013 was when an old state university i.e. Panjab University found its place among some of the leading universities of the world, in one of the global ranking of universities. Having known the current state of affairs in state public universities, it was really a remarkable accomplishment of Panjab University. Some of its departments are doing commendable research work.”

Another important happening was the launch of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). This is an ambitious Rs. 50,000 crore national higher education mission, which will provide funding to a large number of institutions and help to set up 278 new universities along with 388 new colleges.

 

Talking about the best moments of 2013, Vineet Joshi, Chairman of CBSE, pointed out the good performance of students. “According to me the best was the results of class 12 as this year students have performed better than previous five years quantitatively as well as qualitatively,” he said.

 

The not so good ones

Now let’s take a look at those events, which hit the higher education badly. The major one was the Supreme Court verdict, which stripped the All India Council for Technical Education of its powers saying that henceforth MBA, MCA and engineering programmes will be regulated by the UGC instead of the AICTE. “After seven months of silence, ultimately UGC came into picture on December 3, 2013 stating on their website that now they are going to control 13,000 technical colleges. I do not think that state universities will be able to do justice to technical education. They are in dire straits and lack capabilities for regulating technical education,” said Chaturvedi. (However, the SC, in its recent verdict restored AICTE’s powers with respect to PGDM for one year.)

The year also saw over a dozen higher education Bills for improvement of the sector pending in Parliament and not being able to see the light. “The worst has been that the best has not happened for the education sector yet as we wanted it to be,” laments Joshi.

Harivansh ChaturvediDr  Harivansh Chaturvedi,
Alternate President,
EPSI

“We expect that the new government will agree to spend at least 6 percent of GNP on education” 


Dr Vijay kumarDr Vijay kumar,
Former President,
IMA

 

“The quality of medical education sector is deteriorating day by day because of the mushrooming of large number of institutions, which do not have quality” 


Vineet JoshiVineet Joshi
Chairman, CBSE

 

“Now that the SC has quashed NEET we are conducting AIPMT. In that 11 states are participating, which is a positive thing for the education sector” 

Expectations from 2014

Industry leaders are unanimous in their view that more needs to be done on improving the quality of higher education in the country.

Former President IMA, Dr Vijay kumar said he hopes that in 2014 Medical Council would become active and start taking steps for the betterment of the medical education. “I am also hoping that the new MCI body will have more representation of youth and it should not take routine steps but should take radical steps. It should not have old people with age-old mentality,” said Vijay kumar. He stresses on quality rather than quantity. “The quality of medical education sector is deteriorating day by day because of the mushrooming large number of institutions which do not have quality,” Vijay kumar said. Experts feel there is a need to increase the number of medical seats while ensuring that courses and curriculum get a makeover.

“The undergraduate seats have not been increased properly. We also need to bring some new and innovative courses like family medicine etc. We are hoping that the course and curriculum would be modernized as per the changing time. We are still following the old curriculum which is more theory based. It should start changing in the year 2014,” Vijaya kumar added. Sharing his expectations, Joshi said that he is hoping to get the teaching-learning process changed in the classroom. “This would require lot of effort and we are hopeful that every stakeholder would come together and not just schools. We want parents to come in as they are very important resource,” he said.

 

Policy measures

Industry leaders are hoping that a new government will usher in the much-needed changes for the education sector.

“For 2014, my expectation is that a new government with a new mandate will be in the saddle at the centre by June 1, 2014. A new Minister for HRD will take up all the issues left pending by the UPA-II. We are hopeful that a stable government at the Centre will give top priority to education, especially higher education. We expect that the new government will agree to spend at least 6% of GNP on education as suggested by several education commissions including Kothari Commission, the Yashpal Committee and the Knowledge Commission,” Dr Chaturvedi concluded. 

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