Lamenting that India’s higher education institutions are facing problem of quality, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the country was far behind China and the U.S. in terms of innovation and pitched for “drastic action” to reform the system.
He said quality, affordability and accessibility should be the mainstay of higher education to encourage innovation and research.
“Our institutes of higher education continue to be challenged by problems of quality,” Mr. Mukherjee said addressing the 10th Convocation of National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.
He cited an international survey which showed that no Indian university was amongst the top 200 universities in the world. “This calls for drastic action to reform the way education is imparted in our universities and academic institutes,” he said.
As per a recent Forbes survey, only three Indian companies have been listed amongst the world’s most innovative ones, he said, adding the number will increase if the process of innovation is made a permanent feature in institutions of learning.
Talking in terms of innovation, Mr. Mukherjee said in 2011, 42,000 patents were filed in India, compared to over five lakh applications filed each in China and the U.S. in the same year.
He pitched for taking the higher education, including technical education, to the doorstep of people by innovations in the delivery system.
“Our universities, engineering colleges and research and development centres should be the hotbed of innovation, he said.
Expressing concern over the shortage of faculty across all types of institutes of higher education, the President said existing vacancies should be filled up “quickly”.
Asking teachers to update themselves with the latest information in their respective academic fields, he said universities and institutes must encourage and facilitate their teachers’ participation in international seminars, refreshers’ courses and project work.
Terming lack of adequate flexibility in Indian system as the reason for institution’s inability to retain talent in academic and research positions, he said: “Our system must be geared to discourage any loss of intellectual capital and at the same time welcome overseas scholars including NRIs and Persons of Indian origin to return to the country.”
This, he said, will enable transmission of ideas and new methods of teaching and research from abroad to India.