India Confronting Multiple Challenges, Crises in Higher Education: Ansari

Source: News Track India | January, 9, 2014

Lucknow, (ANI): Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Thursday said that India as a nation is facing multiple challenges and crises in terms of delivery in the higher education sector, and warned that if comprehensive correctives are not initiated, the demographic dividend would be severely compromised on the employability front in the years to come. 

He said that it was lamentable to note that in spite of the higher education system turning out nearly seven lakh science and engineering graduates every year,industry surveys have shown that only 25 percent of these are employable without further training. 

He said comprehensive correctives had to be applied on quality covering students, faculty and teaching, research and assessment standards while delivering an annual convocation address at the University of Lucknow. 

He said that any assessment of what ails “our institutions of higher education must begin with the quality of the school leavers that seek admission in them.” 

“The challenge here is to modulate the very considerable quality difference between the elite higher secondary schools in the public and private sectors on the one hand and the average or below average ones on the other, a difference that is often camouflaged by the variations in marking standards by different Boards,” he said. 

Ansari said that in the 21st century, the world is increasingly moving towards a knowledge economy, where industrial trade relations are being replaced by a complex system of information exchange. 

“This has shifted the focus to a nation’s abilities and resources to produce and generate new knowledge that can place it on top of the global power hierarchy. Countries are now required to match the global demand for skills with appropriate supply of human resources in order to remain competitive in the global market place,” he said. 

He expressed that a disturbing phenomenon is the lack of focus on research with only one per cent of the enrolled students pursuing research in various areas. 

According to data for 2009, India stood eleventh in terms of number of papers published, seventeenth in terms of the number of citations, and thirty fourth in terms of number of citations per paper. 

“Our research output as global share of scientific publications was a mere 3.5 per cent compared to 21 per cent of China. The total number of patent applications filed by Indians in 2010 comprised only 0.3 per cent of the total applications filed globally. The picture is no better in social sciences and humanities. In social sciences, India is 12th in ranking with 1.18 percent of global publication share compared to China’s 3rd rank and 5.14 percent share,” Ansari said. 

The vice president said that given the structure of the higher education system, the attainments of these objectives would need to be a collective effort of the central and state governments.

TCS Insights: It is said that various sectors of the Indian education system is in need of corrective actions. Ansari claims that further investments in research, similar to those seen in Canada, can make India increasingly competitive in the global knowledge economy.