Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two links on India's higher ed

First, Jason Overdorf in Newsweek:

[Prime Minister Manmohan] Singh, himself a former economics professor at Delhi University, has promised to open 72 new post-secondary schools over the next five years, including eight new Indian Institutes of Technology, seven new Indian Institutes of Management, five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology. To fund them, he's promised to boost the government's higher education spending ninefold, to $20 billion annually, during the five-year period that began in 2007.

But these changes may wind up addressing India's quantity problem without affecting its quality crisis. Already up to 75 percent of India's 400,000 annual technology grads and 90 percent of its 2.5 million general college grads are unable to find work. That's not due to a lack of jobs, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom)—it's due to a lack of skills. "For a long time after Independence, we were trying to solve the employment problem. Now we're trying to solve the employability problem," said Vijay Thadani, head of the Confederation of Indian Industry's committee on education. Loosening the purse strings will help Singh improve infrastructure and expand access for students, but it will take more than money to solve the faculty shortage, revamp outdated courses, encourage innovation and crack down on diploma mills. Indeed, rapid expansion could make these problems worse.

Geoff Maslen in University World News:

[Fazal Rizvi, a professor in the department of educational policy at the University of Illinois] said there had been widespread recognition of the role of higher education in sustaining high levels of economic growth and broader distribution of national wealth. Yet there were many indicators of a decline in the higher education system and these included:

  • An inability of the system to meet the growing demand.
  • Considerable evidence of poor teaching, especially in state universities.
  • Ineffective quality control.
  • Poor graduate outcomes with unemployment for most graduates from colleges.
  • Declining research performance and productivity.
  • Low status of Indian universities in international ranking.
  • Widespread corruption in appointments of faculty and selection of students.
  • Poor governance with cumbersome bureaucratic impediments to reform.

Many of these problems were caused by the structure of higher education in India and its colonial beginning in the mid-19th century, with a strong emphasis on disciplinary learning and examinations, Rizvi said.