India is becoming one of the world’s choicest destinations for higher education but we need to work on it to make it the best. We require to build good infrastructure and provide an atmosphere of excellence.
As per FICCI-EY Report 2015, India, by 2020, will be the epicentre of working age population with more than 906 million workforce. By 2030, the greying developed world is expected to face a workforce shortage of approximately 56 million. As the third largest economy and the availability of young skilled workforce, the world will collaborate with India on socio-economic front. This is an opportunity that India cannot be missed and needs the right policies in place.
The top shots of the industry namely Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog; Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman, Hero Corporate Services; Subhash Ghai, Filmmaker and Founder, Whistling Woods International Ltd; Mohandas Pai, Chair-FICCI Skills Committee & Chairman – Manipal Global Education Services; Francisco Marmolejo, Higher Education Coordinator, The World Bank; Prof. Ashish Nanda, Director, IIM-Ahmedabad; Dr. Jo Beall, Director Education and Society British Council (Exec Board) deliberate on the ways India can become the preferred destination for higher education not only for the developing countries but for the developed world.
According to Nanda, “India is becoming one of the world’s choicest destinations for higher education but we need to work on it to make it the best. We require to build good infrastructure and provide an atmosphere of excellence. We need to remain open to people, and give autonomy to both public and private institutions along with responsibility, holding them accountable for their work.” He further added that, “Institutional rating is more important than ranking as this would ensure institutes achieving a certain standard of infrastructure necessary to provide education.”
According to Pai, “To improve the educational environment in India, a key change would be to increase salaries of instructors to attract qualified individuals who are compensated for going above and beyond in the classroom. A well-paid teacher may have more resources and confidence in presenting innovative classroom projects, hands-on training and assignments. The curriculum should also eliminate outdated or stale theories of teaching, presenting materials and exam practices.”
Another improvement in the best interest of the education system in India could be to move into for-profit educational programs, allowing funds to provide updated resources and advanced technology in the classroom. Incorporating alumni and industry professionals into the curriculum also exposes students to networking opportunities and real-life examples of the ins and outs of a particular career.
As put by Kant, “The MHRD must leverage massive open online courses (MOOC), technology and innovations to scale with speed and excellence. MOOCs are a relatively new innovation but one that offers India an opportunity to leapfrog existing methods of education, much like wireless technologies did for communications and commerce. Currently Swayam, India’s MOOCs initiative, boasts of 93 undergraduate and 83 post-graduate program choices. The Swayam model has to be replicated.”
Once in place, a vibrant system of colleges and universities can address India’s mega challenges such as poverty, energy, water, food, health and education itself. They would also boost the research, innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Furthermore, world-class universities would improve social mobility and foster sustainability.