Indian Higher Education Trends

While 2010 was a year of “announcements”, 2011 is expected to be a year of “implementation”. Indian higher education will gain more attention from stakeholders and the future is paved with enthusiasm at one level and anxieties at another level. Given below are the top seven trends to watch for 2011. Detailed version of this article was published in EDU magazine.

#1: Internationalization will become a dominant theme 

Internationalization as a strategy for building reputation will gain prominence. Foreign universities bill is expected to clear in 2011, however, it will have a limited impact in the immediate term. Most universities would still attempt to craft collaborations by working around the stipulations of the bill and engage in low-risk, non-degree partnerships.

#2: Global accreditation will become the gold standard
Pursuit of global accreditations will gain momentum among private universities seeking world-class partnerships and status. Some of the early adopters of global accreditation include, SP Jain and MDI whose management programs are accredited by AMBA and VIT University with engineering programs accredited by ABET.

#3: New-age universities will change the expectations of quality
New-age private universities like the NIIT University, Shiv Nadar Unviersity and Azim Premji University supported by philanthropy and professional management will create new standards of quality. Likewise, among the public universities, the concept of 14 innovation universities proposed by the Indian government will start taking some shape.

#4: Realization about the characteristics of higher education
More universities will realize that higher education has some very unique characteristics. This includes inherent high experience qualities which make is very difficult to judge the worth of education until purchased. Also, given the sociopolitical connection of higher education, it will become evident that principles and practices of institution building in higher education are highly contextual.

#5: Demand of higher education professionals will increase
As the competition intensifies and aspirations to build “world-class” institutions grow, there will be a demand for professional talent who can understand the characteristics of higher education and deliver results. More institutions, which are aiming for high quality offerings, would adopt and recognize that building world-class institutions requires world-class talent.

#6: Quality gap between universities will widen
Most private institutions will continue to compromise quality and try to find short-cuts instead of investing for long-term and public universities will face decreasing resources to compete effectively. In contrast, a handful of private universities with abundant resources will leap ahead in quality and most other institutions will struggle to keep pace with the competition.

#7: Policy landscape will become tougher
Increasingly, government is realizing that expanding system without proper quality mechanisms will result in huge wastage of resources. There are several proposals expected in the direction of transparency and stricter norms. However, given the highly political angle of higher education reforms, implementation of several proposed policies will lag behind the fast-changing needs of the sector.

2011 will be an exciting year for Indian higher education not only for some bold ideas, radical reforms and disruptive innovations but more so for enabling their implementation. Higher education institutions which can sense, prepare and act on these future trends will create a long-term competitive advantage for themselves.

What other trends in higher education you expect for 2011? Your views/comments are welcome.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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