How can Indian universities turn into world-class institutions?

The Indian higher education system is at a crossroads today for more than one reason. The increasing focus on enhancing the gross enrolment ratio has led the government to decide on opening more universities, colleges, IITs, IIMs and IISTs across all States.

But the basic parameters which lead to the path of excellence in teaching and research remain unaddressed. The basic parameters are as follows:

  • Critical mass in an institution
  • Demographic diversity in student and teacher population.
  • Integration of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in universities.
  • Mobility of faculty and students.
  • Emphasis on cross-disciplinary flexible learning environment.
  • Provision to appoint faculty from overseas universities at least on tenure basis.
  • Liberalisation of Visa regime for foreign students to study in Indian universities.
  • Emphasis on academic freedom.
  • Seamless access to information through IT-enabled modern libraries.

The parameters mentioned above can produce world-class universities. And unless these are given the focus by the Government, the ambitions of creating world-class universities will only remain in speeches and reports. The second issue that has greatly confused the student and the parent is the selection of a university or college for his studies. The nation has no appraisal mechanism in place to rank the colleges, universities, or even the Vice-Chancellors. All countries have ranking mechanisms and even the schools are ranked and graded. It is high time we realised that the education system is not static but dynamic. Yet on the positive note I must say the products of universities and colleges have sustained the growth of our country.

The author is Vice-Chancellor, B S Abdur Rahman University.