Understanding the Indian Higher Education

Understanding the Indian Higher Education


Well, the Indian higher education system is the third largest in the world, after the US and China. Furthermore, it’s even expected to leave the US behind in around 5 years, and beat China in around 15 years to become the largest higher education system in India.

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The astounding growth

While the Indian higher education system still seems to be having a lot of room for improvement, there also seems to be a great potential and possibilities. This seems especially true given the fact that by 2030, as many as around 140 million people will be of the college-going age group, meaning that every 1 of 4 people graduating in the world will be from India.


Higher education in India has been witnessing an astounding growth after the Independence.

Higher education in India has been witnessing an astounding growth after the Independence.

Higher education in India has been witnessing an astounding growth after the Independence. The University Grants Commission (UGC) seems to be contributing heavily to this growth by coming up with various plans, programmes, and schemes for encouraging students to enroll in a higher education university.

Similarly, the emergence of private universities in the country has also boosted the country’s higher education growth. There are now many universities specifically offering courses for a particular field, such as medicine, technology, science, and more. As of now, the gross enrollment ratio turns out to be around the 18% part. However, according to an ambitious estimate, this is expected to cross the 25% mark by the end of the 12th Plan.


A mixed picture

However, as mentioned above, there still seems to be many shortcomings of the Indian higher education system. The state universities, for one, seem to be failing rather badly in keeping up with the changing educational needs. Now though the private universities do seem to be covering up for them to a certain extent, there surely don’t seem to be a permanent solution to this problem.


The changes required

If the higher education system of India is to be changed for better on a whole, it would probably take a great deal of efforts in almost every aspect of the system. This includes working towards a better infrastructure, better quality of staff and teachers, a better teacher to student ratio, relevant curriculum, improved research facilities, and much more.


As far as the core issues are concerned, the quality of academic education offered is very crucial. If that’s not good enough, students may have hard time finding good career opportunities. Changing the functioning of the universities to meet the requirements to get accredited seems to be a very good first step. As of now, there are just a few institutions in India that are accredited by NAAC and NBA.

Similarly, faculty tends to be just as important, if not more. After all, it’s the quality of faculty that’s going to affect the overall quality of academic education provided. Hence, efforts should be made to see to it that the faculty members are actually capable of teaching in a way that’s going to lead to better learning experience and improve the understanding of the students.

Being research-focused, good at mentoring, help the students connect better with their respective industries, and so on, should be some of the qualities of the faculty that teach students in the universities in India.


A major concern and suggested measures

One of the major concerns for the higher education system in India is making the students “employable”. As of now, the numbers reflecting the employable workforce in India seems to be quite terrible.

For example, the reports revealed by NASSCOM suggested that only 1 of every 4 technical graduates, and just around 15% of all the other graduates are considered fit to be employed by the IT/ITES industry. Similarly, another survey carried out on 800 MBA students revealed that only 23% of them were capable enough to be employed on a relevant post.


These are obviously very disappointing numbers, and hence the current situation seems to be screaming for improvement as far as producing employable workforce is concerned. Hence, some experts, such as Kartikeya Sharma, believe that there is a need to shift the focus to a more practical approach than the traditional and ‘generic model’ approach. Similarly, the students should be made well aware of the career options they may be capable of pursuing, while making clear the different qualities, skills, qualifications, and so on, required to pursue those career options.


Poor governance – A major concern

Poor governance, too, has had its fair share of causing hindrance in the growth of the higher education system in India. Stringent and impractical rules and regulations governing the educational institutions in India lead to roadblocks in their growth and development. They are also believed to have an adverse affect on the quality of academic education such institutions can provide. Hence, it seems to be the need of the day to step up and get rid of such poor governance, which would pave the way for a better performance of the higher education universities in India.

There are many legal issues that lead to quality institutions in India facing several problems while growing and developing. For example, there’s a very well-known B-School in India, the ISB Hyderabad. It ranks in the Top 20 list of the Financial Times. However, despite such a major achievement, it isn’t allowed to grant recognized MBA degrees due to some legal issues. This obviously leads to many hurdles in the growth of quality higher education universities in India.

Some experts believe it’s time to transform governance as far as the education system of India is concerned, and working towards a better leadership.


Some important statistics

From 2001-2011, there have been an addition of around 20,000 colleges and 8 million students in India. These are obviously pretty staggering numbers, and explain how India is well on its way to become the largest higher education system in the world a couple of decades down the line.


The largest higher education system in the world a couple of decades down the line.

The largest higher education system in the world a couple of decades down the line.

Similarly, some statistics describing the situation as of 2011 suggested that there were around 42 central universities, 275 state universities, a little less than 100 private universities, around 130 deemed universities, as well as a over 33,000 colleges, including both the government and private ones.

Furthermore, there were also 5 other major higher education institutions in existence in 2011, and all these numbers would have only increased over the years.


Growth of Higher Education Institutions


Types of institutions

As far as some of the major types of institutions are concerned, we have the highly popular IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management), IITs (referring to both Indian Institutes of Technology and Information Technology), NITs (National Institute of Technology), and so on. Besides these, however, we also have quite a large number of distance education universities in India.

All these things give us a fair idea of the strength of the higher education system in India.


A final word

After going through all the above given information and learning about so many different aspects of the Indian higher education system, we can definitely conclude that it’s quite large and only growing stronger in terms of numbers.

However, when it comes to the quality of education provided, there are surely questions being raised. With constant improvement and refining the system, however, the Indian higher education system may also get a whole lot better on the quality front as well.


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