New Push to Education
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
In News: UGC has granted autonomy to 60 higher educational institutions that have maintained high academic standards. It spells introduction of a liberalised regime in the education sector. Focus of the government is on linking autonomy with access and quality.
Under these rules, central, state, deemed, and private universities will be graded into three groups, with a different degree of autonomy for each category. The categorisation hinges on an institution’s performance in either reputed global rankings (QS or Times Higher Education) or the assessment done by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
Depending on the scores, the institutions will be slotted in category I, II and lower, with higher autonomy to colleges in the higher ranks. The NAAC assesses institutions on seven parameters —
- Teaching-learning and evaluation
- Student support
- Governance and leadership
- Institutional values
— and gives each a score out of four.
Academic Autonomy: Design new courses, new departments, new programmes, off campuses, skill courses, research parks, appoint foreign faculty, take foreign students, , introduce online distance learning without coming back to UGC for approval
Administrative Autonomy: Less hassles and bureaucratic processes
Financial Autonomy: Allows them to maintain their books of accounts and offer variable incentive packages
Funding: Critics argue that autonomy is simply a ploy to increase fees and corporatize public education. There is an impression that both state and central universities will be expected to generate their own funds to start new courses and departments. This could result in increased tuition fees, thereby making higher education more expensive and exclusive.
Ensuring access to higher education opportunities for economically deprived is also a question. Creation of an ecosystem for showcasing dedication towards their areas of study with better and level playing opportunities as well as financial support is the way ahead.
Also, government mentions that there exists inherent check that everything is in line with norms and regulations. Fee regulatory bodies exists both at the national and state level to counter malpractices.
Leadership: Academic autonomy must filter down. The institution must have autonomy from external pressures, the department must have autonomy from the head of the institution and the teacher from the head of the department.
The Way Forward
Firstly, universities, teachers and students need to create many more forums for interaction with the wider world since it is such interaction that would lead to generation of workable ideas and workable courses that can generate wealth. With changing economies and the evolving nature of work itself, there is an acute need for universities to turn from static to dynamic models of education. This requires an overhaul of the curriculum, which emphasises learning across disciplines towards solving problems and producing enlightened citizens.
Secondly, innovation needs to be tested against reality. Setting up of incubation centres is the first step, which should be complemented with – Internships for students, work on real world problems and building databases of knowledge that could be useful for artificial intelligence. Interactions like these would provide good guide maps for what students should be taught and the research that is needed.
Thirdly, there is a need to offer doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships in many fields – Data analytics, cyber security, macro-economics, IT for retail management and warehousing need expertise just as much as healthcare, travel and tourism and linguistics.
- Autonomy always goes with responsibility. That means that colleges have potential to take care of societal needs, national needs, and educational needs.
- Students who are unable to go for higher education abroad can avail the same staying back in India, and get an opportunity to perform better.
- Universities will be truly autonomous when mature conversations can take place between its leadership and the government.
Note: The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an organisation that assesses and accredits higher education Institutions (HEIs) in India. It is an autonomous body funded by University Grants Commission of Government of India headquartered in Bangalore.
Connecting the Dots:
- Why is granting autonomy considered important for universities? Analyse.