The current model of higher education is based on the needs of second industrial revolution.
With the rapid technological advancement and globalisation, it is clear that the world needs a narrative that can take us into a more equitable and sustainable future. India, with its billion plus population, has to deal with the evolving scenario for a secure and brighter future for its coming generations.
For the past six decades, the public spend on higher education in India has been much below the desired need impacting the access and equity. Further, the current model of higher education is based on the needs of second industrial revolution.
It is imperative that our higher education too, goes through an evolutionary process to prepare itself for the disruptions caused by the fourth industrial revolution. Industry experts like Dr. Liang-Gee Chen, Political Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, Taiwan; Suchindra Kumar, Director-Advisory Services, EY; R Subramanyam, Additional Secretary, MHRD, GoI; Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GoI; Dr. Rajesh Tandon, Founder President – PRIA, UNESCO Co-Chair; Takyiwaa Manuh, Director, Social Development Policy division, UNECA, Ethiopia; Prof. Anat Rafaeli, Director – Technion International, Israel’s Institute of Technology, Yudhister Bahl, Sr. Vice President, New Business ventures & Operations, Laureate Education India and Dr. Pramath Sinha, Founder Trustee, Ashoka University spoke about the new paradigms/models of higher education to create empowered citizens.
Kumar opened the discussion by saying, “India’s current population is 1.3 billion. It requires innovative funding models. To come up with new education models, universities need to be open in terms of entry and exit, curriculum, appointing faculties etc. They should be given adequate autonomy to let creativity flow in, along with holding them responsible for their actions.” He further added, “There is ample knowledge available out there but universities do not readily accept inputs and are not eager to accept change, thus, delaying upgradation and growth.” Education regulators need to be agile and have a transnational outlook to let newer education models roll in for improvement.
As put by Rafaeli, “Even with a small population of 8 million, Israel has been making it big in education. I believe in ‘Learn from the world, learn for India.’ In order to incorporate newer education models, we should educate people to learn and to think rather than to know.”
According to Pandey, “Quality of teachers needs to be focused on. Education is intangible and, thus, high quality of education should be delivered by teachers whereas the quality of education delivered is standard in India. Teachers should be paid better salaries so as to make this industry more attractive for them to join and stress should be paid on training and retaining them.”
Change is hard to implement. There are significant implications with the big shift in education we are experiencing, and its consumer, student, employee, life-long learner behaviours and their adoption of technology that will shape institutions, organisations and businesses of the future. It will be organisations and specially the higher education institutions that adapt to and harness the new “knowledge flows” that will be successful, and doing so will require significant institutional innovations.