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5 Strategies to Improve Quality of India’s Higher Education

Higher EducationThe need for higher education in India has increased manifold in the past few years, similar to other countries across the newly-industrialized world. On a global level, enrollments have increased by more than 50% in the previous decade and now exceed 150 million, with nearly half of the total number of students coming from emerging-market nations. In India, as of 2013, enrollments have grown from 10 million in the year 2000 to 23 million. Because of the spurt in number of enrollments, there is a growing interest to improve quality and access of higher education in India. However, there lacks a consensus on this topic because there is little empirical evidence. Mentioned below are 5 sure-shot ways in improving the quality of higher education in India.

1) Instead of dogmatic, transform the curriculum into something dynamic

something dynamicThe syllabus or curriculum for Indian students in higher education (especially engineering colleges) is obsolete in a majority of cases. The topics are dogmatic and stale and try to teach things that have already been implemented worldwide. For infusing dynamism, the curriculum needs to be progressive. Students need to be offered the choice of opting for multiple courses in the 1st year, with an ability to choose whatever they wish after the 1st year or semester. The spirit of the syllabus should revolve around projects and not exams. There needs to be innovation to avoid stagnation. Exams must exist to measure; however, they need to be complimented with innovative ideas, such as 50% for final exams and 50% for projects. The projects need to be judged by independent faculty members rather than the faculty in place. Students must also be given the ability to switch to other streams according to their preferences or after justification of basic criteria. When we say streams, it should be simple with Engineering but may be tougher to shift to a Commerce stream (assuming that the institute is a full-fledged university offering all these courses). For this to take shape, we need young, dynamic faculty members who are part of the academic syllabus boards.

2) Give Teachers their Due by Paying Them More

predominantlyThe academic board is predominantly chaired by teachers in their 60s and 70s. We don’t want to sound offensive to these teachers, but there is a need for younger lecturers and professors for a healthy blend of youth and experience in the education system. The younger teachers would be in a better position to relate to technological changes and new-age requirements of students opting for higher education. The disturbing fact is that a majority of young professors are outcasts from the IT industry or have taken up the job as a last-resort option. Very few professors have taken up the teaching profession because they love teaching. Another factor that needs to be considered is that teachers in India are paid peanuts in comparison with other professions. Students who have graduated earn much more in an IT organization in comparison with Assistant Professors or Lecturers in some colleges. This is despite the increase through sixth Pay Commission for teachers in Government colleges. With an increase in payment, the quality of teachers will definitely improve, because now teachers who enjoy teaching will take up the profession. After this measure, the curriculum boards will feature younger professors, with no room for excuses. The question that arises is where the additional money will originate.

3) Convert Private Institutes into Profit-making Ones Rather than Non-Profit

ConvertThis might sound ridiculous; however, after careful thinking, this is a good idea. It is a known fact that private colleges are revenue-generating institutes, mostly run as large corporate organizations. The solution lies in removing the tag of “non-profit” and making them competitive. Let private colleges compete with each other in an open manner rather than slugging it out under the carpet. We must realize that education, too, is a form of business, and the more we pretend to ignore it, the higher the incidences of corruption. If institutes are treating education as a business to improve the overall standards, then it is a good sign. This is how world-class institutes in the West operate, and we should follow their footsteps. The ideal way forward is to make private institutes driven by profit as well as taxable. This would increase the capital and ensure transparency in the admission process.

4) Industry Interaction should be a Placement Obligation

Placement ObligationOne of the predominant pillars in growth of education is the level of interaction between students and industry. Leading companies should be invited for such interactions. When corporate houses approach colleges for placement, there should be a minimum qualification criteria for students to be eligible for placements. For instance, students should show their worth by contributing to the college’s income through R&D. Rest of the companies would follow suit because for them, human resource is of utmost significance. When an IT company is on a hiring spree of 600 to 1,000 professionals, they wouldn’t care about a few lakhs. When an institute offers so much human resource, it’s hard for companies to ignore the offer. This strategy would make the institute optimize its human potential and enhance the industry interactions manifold. Ultimately, this investment would improve the student’s learning experience. These students would then feel the need to give back to their respective institutes after graduation.

5) Use the Influence and Fame of Alumni

Influence and FameAmong the many underrated potentials in the education system of India is the power and influence of Alumni. With IITs and top institutes being exclusions, the strategy of Alumni networking doesn’t exist. In times where all Indian graduates are earning somewhere, alumni networks need to be well intertwined with proceedings of the University. Alumni do not shy away from giving. However, they are confronted with 2 problems: 1) they lack the knowledge about who to give and 2) they are concerned whether the money would end up in the wrong hands. After establishment of a transparent and credible network, alumni would be more confident to contribute money or expertise with the opening of new avenues.


All the five suggestions mentioned above can help tackle the Indian higher educations system, which is plagued by problems. These suggestions may fail to break the deadlock or lead to a revolution; however, they need to be incorporated. Some of these suggestions may sound lofty and farfetched; however, if even one suggestion improves the higher education system to a certain extent, then it is worth it.

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