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12th June 2024 (12 Topics)

UGC Policy shift for Higher Education


The University Grants Commission (UGC) has made a big change in policy: now, colleges can admit students twice a year, starting next year. This move brings Indian universities in line with global norms, which could lead to better connections with other countries and more student exchanges. To achieve the goals of Vision 2047, India needs to start with strong short-term plans right away.

Current State of India’s Higher Education System:

  • Student Population: India has 25% of the world's students.
  • Institution Numbers: With over 58,000 higher education institutions, India has the world's second-largest higher education system. In 2021-22 alone, nearly 2,400 new institutions were added.
  • Enrollment: There's been a 4.5% increase in student enrollment compared to the previous year, totaling 4.33 crores.
  • Gender Enrollment: The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for females has been higher than males since 2018-19, thanks to various government schemes empowering women. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 aims to raise the GER to 50% by 2035, a 40% increase from current levels.
  • Teacher Ratio: The pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in universities and colleges remains at 24:1.
  • National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: The government launched NEP 2020 to address various educational challenges. However, its implementation faces hurdles due to existing complexities and institutional hesitancy.

Issues in Education System and Remedial Measures:

  • Limited Funds and Redistribution:
    • Issue: Lack of adequate resources like manpower, infrastructure, and funds hampers educational quality and accessibility.
    • Remedy: Government needs to allocate sufficient resources at both provincial and national levels to address educational needs. Redistribution of resources to ensure equitable access to education is vital.
  • Autonomy for Education Institutions:
    • Issue: Excessive administrative control restricts the autonomy of educational institutions, hindering innovation and quality.
    • Remedy: High-performing institutions should be granted autonomy in operations, including syllabus revision and reforms. Collaboration between state and central governments is crucial for implementing measures to reduce control over top-ranked institutions.
  • Expensive Higher Education:
    • Issue: Privatization and profit-driven models have led to high costs of professional and technical education, limiting accessibility.
    • Remedy: Government can establish entities offering education loans at lower interest rates or with longer repayment tenures. Private institutions should offer more scholarships to economically and socially weaker sections to enhance affordability.
  • Obsolete Curriculum:
    • Issue: Current curriculum focuses on general education, failing to prepare students adequately for real-life challenges.
    • Remedy: Align curriculum with international standards, introduce multidisciplinary institutions with flexible credit systems, and allow students to choose courses freely.
  • Archaic Academic Structure:
    • Issue: Assessment methods and evaluation criteria are outdated and not in line with international standards.
    • Remedy: Embrace continuous evaluation and formative assessment models, prioritize practical and vocational courses, and streamline education areas for better assessment.
  • Inferior Primary Education Infrastructure:
    • Issue: Inadequate infrastructure leads to high dropout rates, wasting potential human resources and causing financial strain.
    • Remedy: Focus on skill development and vocational education at the middle school level, preparing students for the job market. Early vocation-based courses can instill the importance of education in families and alleviate financial burdens.

Government Initiatives for Higher Education in India:

  • National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Launched in 2020, NEP aims to revamp the education system, focusing on holistic development, flexibility, and multidisciplinary learning.
  • Swayam: An online platform offering free courses from school to postgraduate level, launched to promote digital learning and increase access to quality education.
  • SWAYAM PRABHA: A group of 32 DTH channels transmitting high-quality educational content, aimed at reaching remote areas and disadvantaged groups.
  • Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Program (EQUIP): Aims to enhance access, inclusion, quality, excellence, and employability in higher education.
  • Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP): Aims to improve the quality of technical education through long-term projects implemented in phases.
  • Institute of Eminence (IoE) Scheme: Empowers higher educational institutions to become world-class teaching and research institutions.
  • Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA): A Centrally Sponsored Scheme aimed at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.
  • Prime Minister's Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme: Designed to improve research quality in higher educational institutions by attracting top talent into research.
  • Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC): Facilitates academic and research collaborations between Indian institutions and top institutions worldwide.
  • e-PG Pathshala: Provides high-quality, interactive e-content across various subjects under the National Mission on Education through ICT (NME-ICT).
  • Surveys and Rankings:
    • National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
    • All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE)
  • Vocational Education:
    • National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS)
    • Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)
Fact Box

Regulation of Higher Education

  • The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976 shifted Education to the Concurrent List.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) regulates higher education in India, All India Council for Technical Education, Medical Council of India, Bar Council of India (BCI), and other statutory bodies specific to different fields of study.
  • These regulatory bodies set standards, provide accreditation and ensure quality in higher education.

 India Rankings 2023 of higher education institutions

  • On the basis of Field:
    • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras in Chennai remained the best educational institution in overall rankings for the fifth consecutive term.
    • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru ranked as the best university in the country for eight years in a row.
    • Miranda House, Delhi is ranked the best college.
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad is the top management institute.
    • National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Hyderabad is ranked number one for pharmaceutical studies.
    • The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi is ranked the best medical college, and Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, Chennai is the top dental college.
    • National Law School of India University, Bengaluru is ranked the best law college in the country.
    • IIT-Madras has also been ranked the best engineering college for the eighth consecutive year (from 2016 to 2023).
  • On the basis of Research Capability:
    • IISc Bengaluru stood first in ‘Research Institutions’
    • IISc is followed by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Jamia Millia Islamia University as the second and third best universities, respectively.
  • In Agriculture sector:
    • Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi remained at the top in ‘Agriculture and Allied Sectors’.
    • IIT-Kanpur topped the ‘Innovation’ category.
    • IISc, Bengaluru and IIT-Delhi are ranked the second and third best institutes in the overall category.
    • Hindu College, Delhi and Presidency College, Chennai are ranked the second and third best colleges, respectively.

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