How to improve quality of higher education?
Whenever the discussion on education comes, everyone including the academics, scientists and politicians say that we have to improve the quality of higher education (HE)
Whenever the discussion on education comes, everyone including the academics, scientists and politicians say that we have to improve the quality of higher education (HE). It is quoted that more than 75 per cent of engineering graduates are unemployable which is due to lack of quality of education. We all are able to hear such statements for decades and why are we not able to improve the quality. Is it indifferent attitude of government or academics?
Quality means basically getting the knowledge, its assimilation and use of at an appropriate place. Unfortunately, we follow all objective type system wherein the students have to just tick correct answer. It starts from high school to NET examination (it is essential to pass to be a lecturer) or for a job. Most of the candidates use lottery system for answering major part of questions in turn they may get grades, but the real knowledge may be missing? We found the many IIT students are going for suicide as they do not have competence on the subject knowledge but got seat by study of notes and objective questions.
How many universities are insisting hands on experience or practical exposure to the students. When we teach civil engineering, how many students are taken to the sites and shown the variety of cement, quality of concrete / steel to find out the strength. It is similar case with every subject. The governments spend crores of rupees but the student is not suitable for employment after studying for four to five years. Again the government spends huge amount of money for skill development. Is it not waste of huge budget, and time? Can the Government integrate the skills as part of education as well bring reforms in examination system?
In addition to class room teaching, the student as well as the teacher has to spend time to learn the new developments in their subject field. Today no subject is independent and most of them are multi-disciplinary due to increased relationship between the subjects. Management students have to learn, philosophy, psychology, economics, commerce, communication skills, logic etc.
Major defect of our education is dependence on class room notes and text books (which are like notes). We follow the same text book for decades in spite of lot of new knowledge is being generated (knowledge explosion). Most of the academics are not worried of the developments as the education is based on text books and restricted syllabus which is hardly revised. We find that all engineering students are given a pack of books at the start of every semester promoting the publishers, that means the colleges do not want the students to study other materials? There are Governmental and Non-governmental attempts to provide the subject knowledge such as E-PG Pathshala, SWAYAM, OCW, OER and many more text books and lessons available at free of cost. The academics should encourage use of such materials and stop giving age old notes.
The major problem for not reading is due to lack of encouragement and facilities to read books at school level. The reading habits at school level make everyone to continue to read thru out student career. Most of the Government schools do not have school libraries as well qualified librarians. Private schools have the libraries, but the amount of homework and syllabus make them to spend least time in libraries, due to which the reading habits are curtailed. It may be worth to state that Mr Praveen Kumar, Secretary, GURUKUL schools is trying his best to open top class school libraries and employing the librarians, who are given tasks. Why not the same situation is not continued by other schools?
UGC in its recent document Draft Guidelines For Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC) (2019) stated that India has 950 universities and 42000 colleges with an enrollment of 31 million. It targeted to have more than 20 universities among global top 200 as well emerge India as a single largest provider of global talent, with one in four graduates in the world being a product of the Indian higher education system. Can UGC make it possible with its indifferent attitude of neglecting the practical approach and repeatedly supporting few senior academics, who never understand the real conditions prevailing in private as well as State universities. UGC for last six decades could only make rules which were ignored by many institutions. Lack of monitoring and political interference at different levels is eating away the quality of higher education. Even state councils are bent upon making money by conducting entrance examination, but could not practically do anything for improving the quality of products.
For last five years, UGC is not releasing the money for research projects, workshops / seminars? The support for research had gone down, except increasing the scholarship amounts. The UGC made a list of journals for publishing the articles by scholars / academics, only such publications will be considered for point system. The list is prepared not scientifically resulting in deletion of thousands of journals from the list. PhD are produced by ghost writers without any quality and awarded based on mutual support. Viva is big farce in many institutions. Can the UGC think of changing the PhD and other dissertation evaluation methods. In addition to above issues, the there is a need to increase library facilities at schools and make them to have reading habits which shall enhance the quality of HE. Any qualifying exam should not be solely objective type, it should mix of essay and objective. The students and teachers should be able to write few pages. Teaching methods should be changed from class room to field work. Optimum use of digital materials and technology should be part of the HE. Instead of crying on quality of education both the Central and State governments should take practical steps and also save huge budgets and the time of students.
(The authors are Prof of Library and
information Science, OU (retd) and former Vice Chancellor of North Gujarat University respectively)