Author: Dr. Shivaji Bhosale, Associate Professor, Sir Parashurambhau College, Pune
Status of Universities and Colleges in India
India is a country with large number of graduates students with addition of good numbers every year. There are more than 5350 universities (Including Central and State Government, Deemed, Private Universities, Autonomous Higher Education Institutes and Research Institutes) and 43,796 colleges spread across the country catering the demand for higher education in India. Since increase in the middle-class families, the aspiration for getting graduated has increased many folds and is creating stress on the already existing infrastructure and spending of the families on the education sector. Since independence India has spent sustainable amount of money on education and has resulted in lesser dropouts and increase in the mass education of youths. The spending since independence has gone up from 483 crores to 2418.3 crores, although its far less than the amount being suggested by several committees.
Moreover, with advancement of technology and industrial revolution in India, the education sector became one of the major tools in fulfilling the aspirations of families. These aspirations almost led to the outburst of education sector vertically and horizontally without even understanding its consequences at the societal level. There was sharp rise in the private schools, universities, and colleges with inability of different governments to build up the necessary infrastructure. Education sector was always considered as a liability by several dominant players from the market. But with rise in market driven economy and inability of public funded infrastructure to sustain the ever-evolving sector, this giant wheel was trapped in the hands of capitalist with the sole purpose of creating a milking system having shell of societal aspirations for their own profits. As a result, the market is flooded with non-grant and online courses, private and deemed universities with an objective to match the industrial skill-based requirement. The fees of Indian School of Business (ISB), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Ashoka University, BITS Pilani and many more have already reached out of common man’s control. Also, there is sharp increase in the enrolment to open universities and distance schools to enable every stakeholder to climb the academic ladder unopposed. Enrolment for online education between 2021 and 2022 grew 170% while for open and distance learning (ODL) by 41. 7%, taking fresh enrolment in non-physical mode to a new high. The traditional way of imparting education is now on the verge of extinction where limited students use to get higher degrees.
Moreover, recently University Grants Commission has notified the regulation on setting up foreign university campuses in India. These universities can offer certificates, diplomas, degrees, research and others at graduate, post graduate, doctoral or post-doctoral levels. Australian institutes Deakin University and the University of Wollongong have already shown interest in establishing campuses in India and in coming years many may follow.
With this India has the most Universities world wide followed by Indonesia, USA, China, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Japan, France, and Germany. Although India has the highest number of Universities, South Korea has the highest percentage (97%) of students graduating with strong education system focusing on STEM subjects. It is estimated that more than 95 lakh students graduate every year in India. Moreover, number of degree holders in post-graduate other than technical are estimated to be 69,49,707, graduate other than technical are 2,56,66044, Engineering and technology 25,88,405, Teaching 15,47,671, Medicine 7,68,964, Agriculture, and dairying 1,00,126, and Veterinary 99,999.
There is manyfold rise in startups like BYJU, Unacademia Vedantu, upGrad, Toppr, Classplus, Simplilearn, Edukart etc who are eagerly waiting to get authorized as a degree awarding body and it might happen in due course of time. With sector opening and fulfilling the needs of the society, has already been designated as an industry and is now governed by the industrial laws. The mass education with numerous degree awarding bodies will surge and create an uncertainty among the highly educated youths of tomorrow.
In general, graduate students in India are those who have completed a bachelor’s degree and are pursuing further studies in a specific field of interest. Graduate programs in India can include master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and postgraduate diplomas/certificates. The status of graduate students in India varies depending on various factors such as the university or institution they attend, the field of study they are pursuing, and their socio-economic background. These gaps persist and has hampered the overall development of graduate programmes in India. The report “State of Working India 2023” by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment reveals that over 42 percent of India’s graduates under 25 were unemployed. Therefore, there is need to accommodate these graduates and reduce the strain on families who consider education to be the only solution for their livelihood.
Why Institutes are not able to Accommodate Graduates
Institutes faces several challenges in accommodating many graduate students. These challenges are multifaceted and are influenced by various factors such as limited resources, infrastructure, and socio-economic factors.
One of the primary reasons for India’s inability to accommodate many graduate students is the limited availability of resources, including funding and infrastructure. India has a vast population, and the demand for higher education is significant. However, the resources available to meet this demand are limited, resulting in a situation where many students are unable to find a place in universities or institutions of their choice.
Another challenge faced by India is the lack of sufficient infrastructure to accommodate large number of graduate students. Many institutions lack the necessary facilities, including classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and accommodation facilities, to cater to the increasing number of students. This can result in overcrowding and inadequate learning environments, which can impact the quality of education.
Moreover, socio-economic factors such as poverty, lack of awareness, and cultural attitudes towards education also play a significant role in limiting the number of graduate students in India. Many students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are unable to afford higher education, and the lack of awareness about the importance of education in rural areas can also be a hindrance. Cultural attitudes towards education can also limit the number of students pursuing higher education, particularly for women and marginalized communities.
Furthermore, the job market in India is highly competitive, and many graduates are unable to find suitable employment opportunities after completing their studies. This can discourage many students from pursuing higher education and limit the number of students enrolling in graduate programs.
Institutes can accommodate many graduates by taking measures to address the challenges faced in providing higher education to a growing population. Some of these measures include:
Integration of Research Institutes with Academic Institutes
India is a nation with a rich cultural heritage and a rapidly growing economy, making it an attractive destination for investment and development. However, despite significant strides in various sectors, the country still lags in terms of research and development. To address this issue, there is a critical need to integrate research institutes with academic institutes.
The importance of research institutes cannot be overstated, as they play a crucial role in generating new knowledge, discovering new technologies, and solving complex problems that affect society. In addition, research institutes help to create a culture of innovation and creativity, which can have a significant impact on economic growth and development.
One of the primary reasons why research institutes are essential is that they provide a platform for researchers to conduct in-depth studies in their respective fields. These institute house the latest equipment and technologies that allow researchers to carry out experiments and analyze data in ways that would not be possible in a university or college setting. Moreover, research institutes also provide access to funding, which is essential for carrying out large-scale research projects. Another important factor that makes research institutes vital is the role they play in addressing societal challenges. For instance, in India, where there are several pressing issues such as poverty, healthcare, and environmental degradation, research institutes can help to identify innovative solutions to these problems. By bringing together researchers from diverse backgrounds, research institutes can facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations that lead to groundbreaking discoveries. Moreover, the development of research institutes can also lead to the creation of new jobs and opportunities. As these institutes expand, they require a skilled workforce, which in turn, creates employment opportunities for individuals in various fields such as science, engineering, and technology. This can have a significant impact on the overall economic growth of the country.
Research also contributes directly to economic development, clinical, commercial, and business opportunities. Resources brought into the university through grants and contracts support faculty, staff, and student salaries, often adding additional jobs, contributing directly to the tax base. Research universities, through their expertise, reputation, and facilities, can attract new businesses into their communities or states. They can also launch and incubate startup companies, or license and sell their technologies to other companies. Research universities often host meeting and conferences which creates revenue for local hotels, restaurants, event centres, and more. And as mentioned previously, university medical centres provide high-quality medical care, often in midsize communities that would not otherwise have such outstanding services and state-of-the-art facilities
Although several commissions lamented the lack of research opportunities for all undergraduates it did not provide a feasible solution consistent with the mandate for faculty to maintain sustainable physiology research programs.
Industry-institute linkages refer to the collaborations and partnerships between academic institutions and various industries. Such linkages are essential for the development and growth of both industries and academic institutions. These partnerships provide a platform for both entities to work together to meet their goals and objectives. One of the primary benefits of industry-institute linkages is that they facilitate the exchange of knowledge between the two entities. Academic institutions possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various fields, while industries have practical experience and know-how of how things work in the real world. Through these partnerships, the industry can share its practical knowledge and expertise with academic institutions, while academic institutions can provide the latest theoretical knowledge and research findings to the industry. This exchange of knowledge can lead to the development of innovative solutions to various industry problems.
Another important benefit of industry-institute linkages is that they provide opportunities for students to gain practical experience and exposure to industry practices. By collaborating with industries, academic institutions can provide their students with internships, on-the-job training, and industry visits. This exposure can help students understand the practical aspects of their field of study and make them more employable. Moreover, students can also work on industry-sponsored research projects, which can help them develop skills and expertise in areas that are in high demand by the industry.
Strengthening Industry-Academia Collaboration
Industry and academia are significant pillars of economy. A vigorous collaboration between the two will bode well for the economies, facilitating innovation, progression in the education system and creating an employment-ready workforce. For numerous years, innovation in the education system has impacted the way businesses operate. There have been huge leaps taken by corporates and academia to bring about positive change and innovation by collaborating actively and effectively. Increasingly, corporates are preferring to invest in globally-recognised institutions to guarantee the future workforce will have more of the skills the companies seek.
There is need to enhance industry sponsored programmes in institutes. Like, Deutsche Bank sponsors a new full time master’s programme in financial computing. The course is tailor-made to not just fit the requirements of Deutsche Bank but any multi-national bank while keeping in mind the regulatory requirements which will enable students to work in the FinTech and Financial Services industry. The courses have been recognised as an official master’s programme by the Romanian certification agency and are taught jointly by the professors and Deutsche Bank employees in Bucharest.
Tata STRIVE actively builds partnerships with companies within and outside the Tata group, non-profits, government agencies, foundations, trusts and banks. India’s industrial technical institutes (ITIs) are a big component of the partnership model. The Government Arts and Commerce College from Surat, Gujarat has successfully collaborated for various courses with Tata STRIVE.
SBI and several other banks offer wide online certificate programmes through edX platform. However, this collaboration should have been the part of academic institutes leading to strengthening of the local infrastructure.
Strong industry connect should not limited to assured internships and placements. It must extend to the co-creation of the curriculum, lectures and talks by industry experts, joint research, and evaluations, etc. However, we find very less industry sponsored programmes which plays an extensive role in increasing the capability of institutes in absorbing the graduates.
Expansion of Infrastructure
It is not only few IIT’s, IISER’s, IISC’s and IIM’s will help achieve goal. Every institute in India must be at par and need to evolve in such a way that it creates more avenues for students. Converting the infrastructure and education of every institute into IITs and IIMs in India can potentially help in expanding access to quality education and opportunities for students across the country. Additionally, efforts to enhance the quality of existing institutions should also be prioritized to ensure a holistic improvement in the education landscape. The most essential infrastructures developed by institutes for accelerated growth are Physical Infrastructure, Digital Infrastructure, Innovative Academic & Training Infrastructure for Confidence Building, Intellectual Property Infrastructure, Emotional Infrastructure, Networked Infrastructure. United Kingdom has the highest quality index (78%) for infrastructure followed by United States, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Denmark, Canada etc.
Therefore, infrastructure plays a pivotal role in shaping students’ employability by providing the tools and environments necessary for a comprehensive and practical education. Well-designed and well-maintained facilities contribute to the development of skills, knowledge, and attributes that are highly valued by employers in today’s competitive job market.
Encouraging Make in India Initiative in every Institute
“Make in India” is an initiative launched by the Indian government with the aim of transforming the country into a global manufacturing hub. While the initiative primarily focuses on promoting manufacturing and economic growth, it indirectly contributes to absorbing graduate students by creating job opportunities and fostering a conducive environment for entrepreneurship. The primary goal of “Make in India” is to boost the manufacturing sector, which can lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs. Graduates with engineering, technical, and management backgrounds can find employment in various manufacturing industries. “Make in India” emphasizes skill development to meet the demands of the manufacturing sector. Graduates can benefit from skill enhancement programs that align with the specific needs of industries, making them more employable. The initiative encourages entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Graduates with entrepreneurial aspirations can leverage the supportive ecosystem to start their ventures, contributing to job creation. The manufacturing sector is evolving with advancements in technology and innovation. Graduates with expertise in engineering, technology, and research can contribute to technological advancements, making them valuable assets to the industry. “Make in India” promotes collaboration between industries and educational institutions. This collaboration can lead to the development of industry-relevant curricula, internships, and research projects, ensuring that graduates are better aligned with industry needs. The initiative identifies key sectors such as automobile, defense, electronics, and renewable energy for strategic focus. Graduates specializing in these sectors can find ample opportunities for employment and career growth. Make in India” aims to enhance India’s competitiveness in the global market. Graduates with international exposure and a global perspective can play a vital role in helping companies navigate global markets. To encourage innovation, “Make in India” offers incentives for research and development activities. Graduates involved in R&D can contribute to the development of cutting-edge technologies and products. Infrastructure development is a key component of “Make in India.” Graduates can find employment opportunities in infrastructure-related projects, including logistics, transportation, and smart cities. The initiative promotes sustainable and green manufacturing practices. Graduates with expertise in environmental science, sustainability, and green technologies can contribute to eco-friendly manufacturing processes. “Make in India” aligns with the Digital India and Industry 4.0 initiatives. Graduates skilled in digital technologies, automation, and data analytics are well-positioned to contribute to the digitization of manufacturing processes. “Make in India” is complemented by various government schemes and incentives for startups. Graduates with innovative business ideas can benefit from the support ecosystem for entrepreneurship.
Quality of Graduate Students – A big Concern
The quality of graduate students in India varies depending on various factors such as the institution, the program, the student’s background, and the quality of education. While India has a vast pool of talented and motivated students, there are also concerns about the quality of education and the readiness of graduates to enter the workforce.
One of the significant challenges that affect the quality of graduate students in India is the limited availability of resources and infrastructure. Many institutions lack adequate facilities, including classrooms, libraries, and laboratories, which can impact the quality of education. Furthermore, there is a shortage of qualified faculty in many institutions, which can limit the quality of teaching and research.
Another challenge is the lack of focus on skill-based education, which is necessary for graduates to be employable in the job market. Many programs focus on theoretical knowledge, and there is a gap between the skills taught in academia and the skills required in the industry. This can result in graduates lacking the necessary skills and experience to excel in their chosen field.
Moreover, the quality of education can also be affected by socio-economic factors, such as poverty, which can limit access to quality education. Many students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds may not have access to quality education or the necessary resources to succeed in their studies.
However, there are also positive aspects of the quality of graduate students in India. India has a vast pool of talented students who are highly motivated and dedicated to their studies. Many institutions have strong research programs and provide opportunities for students to engage in research and innovation. Additionally, the government and other stakeholders have taken several measures to improve the quality of education, including expanding infrastructure and increasing funding for higher education.