India is visible worldwide in sports, IT-business, making films and so on. But the case is not the same for higher education in India. Indian institutions are not in the list of top universities of the world. In the last 71 years since independence, many policies were adopted to control higher educational institutions of India. It did not work, because finally no Indian institutions are considered as World Class University. Rather, the institutions like IITs and IISc that are not much controlled by authorities are performing better in India. It is urgent to remove controls from higher educational institutions, teachers, and researchers. Institutions need to work in a target based environment. Government and University authorities can only watch the growth of institutions without any interference and disturbance. Control did not work in the last so many years, so it is the right time now to recommend for "no control".
Prof Jamil Salmi, a global expert in higher education said - "In a world-class university, top Professors from all over the world will wish to migrate from other universities and top students of the world will be attracted. We do not have such an Institute to date. Rather our top students and Professors wish to migrate." It clearly says the format was wrong. Recently, some good steps were taken to give academic freedom to higher educational institutions of India like graded autonomy by categorizing the institutions based on accreditation score, Institute of Eminence and many more. But the controversies say it could not satisfy the people of India. Satisfaction of people is important and should not be ignored. People mean teachers, students, researchers, guardians, employers, management and other stakeholders of higher education. India needs a different format which will satisfy them. It is challenging but possible.
"India needs more Indian world-class academic leaders with a global vision to build world-class institutes for India"
Matching with the Global Standards
Authorities make institutes for people. Let the people make institutes. Authorities need not protect or prioritize any institute. For authorities, ideally, all the institutions are important for the nation. Authority should break all the walls (controls) in and around higher education. People will decide and all institutions of eminence, institutions of national importance will emerge over a period of time. The concern of authority is the unethical practices followed by some institutions. To the best of my knowledge, no institute in the world could grow depending on unethical practices. Rather, highly ethical practices in teaching-learning, research and administration created good institutions for the world. Authorities can only help the institutions by creating facilities outside the campus like making smart cities and smart towns, security, open culture, and environment for female, foreign students and faculty members.
Higher educational institutions of India do not need Professors from abroad to transform to a quality institute even though it temporarily helps to boost ranking. Instead, India needs to train Professors in top universities abroad. India needs more Indian world-class academic leaders with a global vision to build world-class institutes for India. To train them in academics and research, India has many top class research labs. But the present condition of most of those labs is too weak to offer world-class training. India needs to invest in those research labs/ centers to bring them at par with the top 100 universities. Indian Professors perform very well; even get Nobel Prizes when they work abroad. Because they work in advanced high-end research labs and in an excellent working environment created by their leaders. On the other hand, when Professors from abroad come to India, their performance degrades. Therefore, investment for resources and leaders are the key to Indian Universities. Visionary academic leaders are required to get away from the traditional thoughts and policies of Indian higher education as earlier as possible.
In India, public institutions are still doing better as compared to private. It is not the same case in the US and other countries where higher education is very successful. In India, either the best performing public institutes should be made private or private institutes should be encouraged to grow. Freedom in taking decisions of private institutions has made many great institutions for the world. Authority is slowly realizing it in India.
Connection improves the performance and predicts growth of a university. Collaboration with academic institutions and industries at a national and international level should be highly focused. Need to create an environment for multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches in research. Professors need to think beyond conventional research areas and welcome emerging areas. Breakthrough research and innovation are the future. Innovation in teaching is essential for current and future students. But there should not be any compromise with length, breadth, and depth of subject knowledge.
Recruitment, promotion, tenure ship should be based only on achievements and performance. India needs to exit from all quota, all discrepancies, and reservations. How tough it is to implement is a different issue. But these are pre-requisites. Either let us accomplish all these tough jobs mentioned above at the earliest to make world-class universities for India or let it go as it is - the choice is ours.
Dr. Partha S Mallick
Dr. Partha S Mallick is a Sr. Professor of Electronics Engineering and the Director, Ranking and Accreditation at VIT University. He worked as the Technical Head, IAAB Electronics in a Swedish Industry in Bangladesh. Dr. Mallick led various research teams and developed "Online Lab in Microelectronics", "Monte Carlo Simulator of Compound Semiconductors", "Nano-structured MIM Capacitor", "Low-cost Electric Fencers" and published 94 research papers in different Journals and Conferences of International repute.