Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Better Regulation of Quality Control in Higher Education

The classroom scenario in institutes of higher education in India, with a few notable exceptions, is uninspiring. Curriculums are taught ad nauseam with little innovation or change.  Our students learn concepts and theories that do not move from the pages of their textbooks and the confines of the classroom to laboratories and real life situations. The end result of this festering higher education system is that every year thousands of unemployable youngsters pass out with degrees from our colleges and universities.

How do we stem this rot? The quest for quality control in higher education will be successful once we focus on the most valuable stakeholder in the education system – the student. The bureaucracy that runs our higher education system is remote and removed from the student.  Higher education courses are guided by rules set by the University, rules set by the college and rules set by the professional council (example the Medical Council of India) that awards the degree. This results in a tremendous amount of inbuilt inflexibility and red tape. A simple example is, as mentioned above, the curriculum. The teacher who teaches the course has little freedom to tailor or interpret it. This quells innovating thinking and teaching. Breaking down the bureaucratic structure would improve the quality of education imparted.

The outcome of higher education should be students who are competent, skilled individuals with reasoning and analytical capabilities. But our higher education system seems to have lost track of this lofty goal. The talk is always about norms and regulations for setting up an institute, the facilities to be provided, the faculty appointment rules, enrollment numbers and more.  It’s necessary to reset the focus on the outcome rather than the input. This can be done by putting monitoring and evaluation processes in place, but giving institutes of higher education the autonomy to decide how restore the joy of learning to the thousands of students who languish in the confines of our outdated higher education system.

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