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HECI a step to revamp higher education system

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The efforts of the Government can be considered successful if the proposed reforms via Higher Education Commission of India raise Indian higher education standard to the global level and stem the brain drain

The proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) has brought to light the need for reforms in higher education regulation. A section of the academic circle is happy in anticipation that the commission will raise quality of higher education to world standard, while ensuring higher education is affordable. However, a small section is unsure how the segregation of the power of grants (financial powers) and control/ monitoring can ensure growth of higher education. HECI has the potential to augment conceptual and scholastic endeavours, resulting in the creation of exquisite thoughts and whole new vistas for aspirants of the higher education.

The post-modernisation phase has been marked by a period of substantial change in the contents and nature of education and examination process the world over. Therefore, it is required that the focus should be placed on the following:

  • To demonstrate how new models of reforms and education suggested by various commissions such as the Kothari Commission, the Yash Pal Commission, etc, can be used in real life experiments with democracy, environment, globalisation and governance.
  • To show how new ways of higher education will drive change and instill confidence among general masses.
  • To explain how to stimulate and disseminate the latest research and happening in the field of education across the globe so as to upgrade research and teaching accordingly.
  • To find ways to do away with manipulation and nepotism.
  • To ensure policy brings good change.
  • To frame ways to reform examination system to ensure only talent gets selected.

The sum and substance of the argument is to ensure the HECI can bring in clean governance in education. The new commission would draw a framework for key demands of the higher education, while maintaining a synergy among various stakeholders, particularly youth. The provision to lay norms for designing fee structures is to ensure affordability is to ensure social justice. Another welcome regulation involved in the process is to monitor institutes mainly on the basis of research, academic excellence, its linkages and employability.

The only issue remained to be sorted out is to define how the process of segregation of monitoring and financial powers in opening and shutting down of an institute would ensure transparency in the decision-making process. The major challenge will be its dealing with professional institutes.

There has been lots of arguments among academicians about the selection in higher education; and in this regard perhaps the main challenge is the pattern of selection in the contemporary context of increasing international inter-dependence and global change. Recent developments have established new basis for understanding the changing nature of polity and community. Perhaps there may be some modification in the examination system without which the process of reformation may only remain a chimera. We ought to bring in changes to test the potential of students by testing the ability not only on academic excellence but also by judging their ability and knowledge about new information and comprehending their level of social responsibility. The purpose of modification is to analyse our growing concern about lacunae in the examination process which can provide insights into important issues.

There is almost a consensus among experts in higher education that selection system can be made more efficient to recruit personnel of high caliber. In this regard a centralised selection process can ensure better results. The strength of higher education system lies in creating its internal dynamism by ensuring inclusive growth. Even an excellent system is influenced by the people who make difference. Human and financial relations and dealings are not as simple as they appear to be and require constant monitoring by competent authorities. Some people feel that there is a strong need to identify new ways to judge the qualitative competence of candidates rather than at times succumbing to local pressure on account of numerical preponderance and mounting pressure from a few areas which perpetuate mediocrity. The problem in the selection process lies in placing mediocrity on a level with excellence and at times above it.

We need to acknowledge that questions related to higher education can have a direct impact on the nation’s life. The new education policies should have the ability to adapt in response to the challenging environment.

It goes without saying that the University Grants Commission has been doing remarkable job in terms of setting strict rules and regulations for quality control, introducing areas for research and teaching development identifying fake institutes and introdrucing API system to ensure merit-based development. It is daunting task to deal with the emerging challenges due to mushrooming of private educational institutes. Therefore, perhaps an idea of coordination and a combination of the UGC and the HECI can bring about an impeccable system of governance in higher education.

American celebrity and businessman Jimmy Dean had famously stated, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” We hope the Government is making concerted efforts to reform higher education system to produce talents the world would envy.

(The writer is a Chandigarh-based professor of political science)




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