Monday, October 25, 2010

Gaping Hole in Indian Higher Education

There is a gaping hole in Indian higher education. I’m probably speaking from the perspective of engineering/science education but I’m sure the situation in other fields is the same.

In engineering, we have the IITs at the top. Some NIT’s and BITS are probably at par. They offer quality education and training. But they are few and the student intake is barely a few thousand combined.

The next best institutes are state level colleges and universities and barring a few possible exceptions, are largely pathetic. The education they provide is worse than no education.

This is the gaping hole. In the US, there is continuous gradation in the quality of universities from top to the bottom. There is not quantum leap between the best universities and the next best ones. Given this system, the chances of a student landing at an institution best suited to his abilities or means are high. In India, you either get very good education (at an IIT) or you get a pathetic one. If you aren’t lucky enough to make it into the top tier, you’re left with nothing.

We need to saturate out this gap in the Indian higher education – bring up the level of state level colleges and universities. This might be even more important that setting up new IITs or IIMs. When the competition around them rises, IITs and IIMs will automatically be forced to up their game to remain on top. Right now they have no competition. They are probably stagnating or worse, deteriorating.

2 comments:

  1. I think a fundamental issue to be addressed as far as the level of private engineering colleges is concerned. I think that is the way to go bcoz govt can only open a few good colleges. The private ones have to get their standards upto a decent level.
    The issue is with the whole motivation behind opening a new engineering college. If you look at most of the top private schools in the US (Stanford, Ivy league schools, Northwestern etc), their main aim is not to earn profit. Somehow, earning profit and providing good higher education dont go hand in hand.
    Today in India, most of the private engg colleges are set up by mid level industrialists who are looking at the college as a financial investment which is supposed to be very profitable. I guess Chintan would be able to give us a better idea about that but I think even DAIICT sort of has the same profit making motivation. What India needs is more colleges like BITS. We need the Tatas and Ambanis and Narayan Murthys to set up good engg colleges with the sole aim of providing world class higher education and doing high quality research. Thats how you can attract both the best faculty members and best students.

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  2. I agree with the above comment... But I think it'll take a while for things to improve. Universities in US have been around for 100 years or so and there has always been a huge demand for quality work force even since the days of world war II. India has only recently realized that it needs to push standards. Also, I feel like the standards sort of match the requirements of the industry. Very few Indian firms run after innovation and research as compared to US... things will take a long long time to improve.

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