14 February 2018
India has been concerned about the quality of its colleges and universities for some time. Although a few institutions have had some modest success in global and regional rankings, the country’s higher education system has failed to be competitive internationally, especially with Mainland and Greater China.
The recent Asian University Rankings published by Times Higher Education (THE) have provided further confirmation. Although India, led by the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, managed to have six universities in Asia’s top one hundred, this was much smaller than the 24 for Mainland China, six for Hong Kong, eight for Taiwan and one for Macau.
A number of proposals have been presented from time to time, including increasing research funding and more internationalisation. A promising approach is liberating universities from burdensome government controls and regulations and granting them greater autonomy.
The Times of India has an article by Arvind Panagariya and B Venkatash Kumar describing the latest proposals for giving Indian institutions of higher education more freedom.
The Human Resource Development minister has proposed several far-reaching changes. Universities will be divided into three categories based on National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) scores. Those in categories I and II will be able to start new courses, including open and distance, departments, programmes and constituent colleges. They can also offer incentives to attract talented faculty and engage in international collaboration. Category I universities will also be allowed to open research parks and incubation centres. It is anticipated that some colleges will be allowed to upgrade themselves and become universities
In addition, it is proposed to give a greater role to independent accreditation agencies.
It is hoped that the granting of autonomy to a number of high performing universities will lead to improvement throughout the entire system.
The Times of India