The Missing Quality and Relevance Mindset

In November, I presented at two conferences on higher education in India–FICCI Higher Education Summit and CII.

At FICCI, I co-presented in plenary session on Internationalization with following speakers:

  • Mr Anand Sudarshan, MD & CEO, Manipal Education
  • Dr Kavita Sharma, Director, India International Centre
  • Prof Dame Joan Stringer, Principal & Vice Chancellor, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland
  • Mr Nirmal Pal, Regional Director for India, Pennsylvania State University
  • Dr Sheila Embleton, President, Canada India Education Council (CIEC), Canada

My core argument was that India is lacking a quality mindset and internationalization is emerging as a competitive compulsion to inculcate quality. By any indicators of excellence, India is falling behind. It is ironical and embarrassing that with the largest number of B-Schools in the world, India does not have a single B-school which is AACSB accredited (B-school Bubble). Likewise, only 4,300 colleges out of ~33,000 colleges in India have pursued NAAC accreditation. This clearly shows that “voluntary” in the context of Indian higher education means unnecessary burden and there is serious lack of a mindset to achieve to highest standards of quality.

Altbach in his recent article wrote “…academic system as large and complex as India’s has almost no “thinking capacity” on higher education.” Internationalization will not solve all the complex and enormous problems and has a tendency for remaining concentrated in few institutions and hence the challenge for policy-makers is about enabling internationalization for gaining systemic excellence–bringing both competition and collaborations for improving practices and developing a profession. I am pleased learn that 12th five-year plan will emphasize on not only quality but also recognize importance of internationalization policy for India. (related article on internationalization policy for India).

At CII, I presented in the opening session on the theme of University-Industry partnership. The co-presenters were:

  • Dr SS Mantha, Chairman, AICTE
  • Dr PV Ramana, Chairman, ITM Group
  • Mr P Rajendran, Co-founder and COO, NIIT
  • Dr PV Indiresan, Former director, IIT Madras

The presenters were asked to take a stance on the topic “Whose Stakes are Higher in Academia-Industry Collaborations?” I argued that industry has more to lose by not participating the talent development process. Industry is the end-consumer of talent and has not taken up its fair share of responsibility to shape the future of higher education. I called for a new “industrial revolution” in higher education where industry takes the ownership, co-creates and solves problems rather than blaming universities and government for everything that has gone wrong in higher education. As I mentioned, in my earlier blog posts and presentation in FICCI, Indian higher education system has a long way to go in terms of building a quality mindset, however, industry has a major role to play as a part of triple helix of university, industry and government interactions.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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