Thursday, July 30, 2015

International Conference on Higher Education

One of the main focus of the conference relates to Higher Education in India.  With 1.3 billion population, India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, next to the United States and China. 
The main governing body at the 
tertiary level is the University Grants Commission, which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state. Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by 12 autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission.  In discussing higher education in India, four broad issues  that have been raised include the following.   
First, there is simply too much focus on quantity at present in India. Opening up of newer institutions is being done at
breakneck speed but the performance of the existing ones is not looked into and bettered. It requires careful educational planning and implementation for catering to the influx of burgeoning population at the same time providing them with a quality education.
Secondly, several curricula need to be updated in subjects where change happens quickly. The process of updating of curricula is something that needs to be done at a faster pace in subjects like engineering, sciences, etc.  Thirdly, there is the issue of faculty expertise, remuneration and community attitudes to an Indian faculty versus a foreign faculty. While it is true that some Indian
faculty to an extent are underperforming most in the top tier institutions are very capable, brilliant and comparable to faculty in any other place in the world.
 Finally, there is the issue of research in Indian higher education institutions and what is being done to better this over time. Collaboration with centers and research institutions abroad is much needed, and much talked about strategy for Indian universities. The most critical element here is funding and often universities are at the mercy of government for funding. Generally, all the issues being raised are universal in nature.  As an invited resource person for the conference, Prof Dr Normah Omar shares Malaysia's 10-shifts Educational Blueprint 2015-2025 as a possible higher education's transformation initiative that India could possibly emulate.