Being open to change, flexible in creating an ideal learning atmosphere, and shifting from rote to analytical learning, are some of the ways in which quality in higher education can be enhanced.
This called for concerted efforts by all the stakeholders concerned so that the Gross Enrolment Ratio, at present at a figure less than 15 per cent, and employability percentage at less than 30 per cent, could be improved.
These and many other recommendations were made by experts from academia, industry and Government at the two-day “Regional Summit on Quality in Education: Strategic Growth in Higher Education Institutions” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Coimbatore Zone, recently.
The summit came up with suggestions while deliberating on initiatives that can bring about effective quality teaching in higher education, through role of faculty members, support of decision-making bodies, etc.
Realising that to introduce an effective institutional policy for sustainable growth, a comprehensive statement of development, adaptation, utilisation and management of initiatives are important to improve the livelihood and status of educational systems, and subsequently the overall contribution to the national development, the CII had brought in experts to speak on various aspects of managing higher educational institutions.
The major issues that were dealt with were: attracting qualified and committed faculty, streamlining the admission process, cost of education, compartmentalisation, examination-based education, participation by industry, and research culture in universities.
Inaugurating the summit, R. Kannan, Principal Secretary to Government – Higher Education, Government of Tamil Nadu, said setting up finishing schools for graduating students, exchange programmes for students and faculty, training modules for faculty, and language laboratories in institutions to encourage students to learn more Indian and also foreign languages were some of the ways to enhance quality education.
Rigidity in the system, particularly the curriculum, was attributed to students becoming failures rather than it allowing them to develop as individuals.
D.K. Subramaniam, Trustee, Foundation for Advancement of Education and Research, called for flexibility in starting new departments, new courses, programmes and research areas, incorporating societal aspects. There was also a need to have flexible curriculum with credit systems which offered many electives to choose from. But the main flexibility was sought in the assessment system.
“Failure in examination is like a capital punishment. There is a need to introduce continuous assessment based on problem-solving exercises, review and feedback, instead,” he said.
There was a worry over even the best management institutions not being managed well, the best technical institutions not generating and using current technologies effectively, and universities having turned into examination centres and not knowledge generators.
A clarion call was made to increase motivation of faculty, and convert good students into teaching and research associates. Second and third year students could be used to mentor the first year students.
Another lacuna in the system that needed attention was value education. There was no holistic view of education because it was devoid of sports, culture, ethics and values. Education needed to be designed to make it value-oriented.
More industry participation was also called for. This was seen from the perspective of not only managing the institutions, but also branding and repositioning them by enabling them produce effective human resources for the industry.
How institutions could ensure all this was the point in question. Summing up on this factor, Nandini Rangaswamy, Founder Trustee of GRG Institutions, said for educational institutions to ensure they had good infrastructure besides providing quality education, much depended on the fee charged from students. The Government had to recognise the participation of the private sector in education and this should also be encouraged by permitting the private sector to participate on a ‘for-profit’ basis.