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Old 27th September 2017, 16:19   #1
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Default What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

The status of Higher Education in India is not something that we can be proud of. Apart from a handful of Institutions (IITs,IIMs,IISc) which have some equity, our other Universities, in the Central, State and Private sectors are pretty poor. And these top institutions cater to under 1% of the enrolled students all over India.

We have 803 Universities, 39000 plus colleges and some stand alone institutions. We have about 34 million students enrolled in these HE institutes. We have about 28 colleges for every lakh of eligible (18-23 yrs) population. Our PTR (Pupil to Teacher Ratio) is 21- which in itself is not bad-till we find that more than 67% of our HE faculty is in the category of Lecturer/Asst. Professor. So what? Some States give Asst. Professor status to teachers with just 1 year experience. Hence, it is apparent that the teaching experience of our faculty would be low.

We are pretty poor in all indices in the education system when compared to Asian countries such as China, HK, Singapore, Korea or with BRICS Countries. To give an example:

GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio) is a measure of the number of young, in the age between 18-23 years, who are enrolled in HE institutes. India's GER is at ~24.5% - meaning that about 33 million youth are enrolled in HE from the total population of 134 million young between the ages 18-23 years. i am not going to give the GER of other countries for fear of depressing BHPians, but shall mention two facts:
  1. Most 'Developed' Countries boast of a GER upwards of 80%.
  2. China's GER was half of India's in 1960. It is now double of India. Absolutely depressing.

What ails our Higher Education Institutions?-screen-shot-20170927-20.35.11.png

There are international ranking agencies which rank institutes of HE (Universities) such as Times Higher Education tanking or the Shanghai Jio Tong ranking (Also called the Academic Ranking of World Universities). Webometrics of Spain and QS are other agencies. India has recently (last year) launched NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework).

The world's top 10 is as under:

What ails our Higher Education Institutions?-screen-shot-20170927-15.35.57.png
Source: Times Rankings
Asia's top 10 is as under:
  1. National university of Singapore
  2. Peking University
  3. Tsinghua University, China
  4. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  5. University of Hong Kong
  6. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  7. University of Tokyo
  8. Korea advanced institute of Science and Technology
  9. Seoul National University
  10. Pohang University of Science and Technology, South korea.
Source: Times Rankings
Not even one Indian Institute figures in the top 10 of Asia! In fact, we don't come in the top 25 too! IISc comes at #27 and IIT, Mumbai at #42. (I must clarify here that these ranks are for Universities and stand alone institutions which do not award a degree, are not considered (Hence IIMs are out).

What ails our Higher Education Institutions?-screen-shot-20170927-20.35.45.png
Source: Times Ranking
In the World rankings, IISc comes between 201-250 rank; IIT-Mumbai at between 351-400 rank with IIT-Delhi at 401-500 rank. Horrors!

So what ails our higher education system? Why is that Institutions such as IISc, BHU, AMU, JNU, IITs, AIIMSs which were conceptualised with great vision and created with committed people have not come to the World Class status that HE Institutions in other countries have been able to achieve? On the contrary, they seem to be slipping in stature.

GER is one indicator that has been shown. It is estimated that if we have to improve our GER to 40%, we would require to double the number of education institutions that we have at present. And the allocation for Education in our Budget is a pittance! If we don't get our act together, we shall miss the Bus. If India has to grow to become a world power, albeit modest, then education of our sizeable mass of youth is mandatory. No question about it.

But along with Quantity, we must also have Quality. It is estimated that at present only 24% of our fresh graduates have 'employability' skills. And these are charitable figures. Employability skills are defined as Communication skills, Teamwork, Analytical & problem solving skills, Personal management, Inter personnel skills, computer/technical literacy, leadership/management skills, and above all Strong work values including personal integrity.

What ails our Higher Education Institutions?-screen-shot-20170927-20.17.31.png


And India was once the focal point of Education with likes of Takshila University and Nalanda University- where students and scholars came from many countries to study! What has happened?

Well, there are various reasons and there are many who have written about this - desperately trying to make the powers-that-be sit up and take notice about the sorry state of affairs - and more importantly do something about it. While i see a lot of discussion and short term measures, what we require is sustainable, long term policies along with a drastic restructuring of the entire system.

Obviously, Government policy and regulation plays a vital role. We actually have too many regulators each vying for his or her space and encroaching upon others. UGC, AICTE, DCE, Central professional councils (15 of them), State councils, Department of HE, State Education departments..

All of us are stake holders in this business. Some of us are Parents, Students, Employers, Administrating officers and staff, Faculty, Instructors, Suppliers such as High schools & Colleges, Donors, Communities, ranking agencies, JV Partners, Sponsors of research, chairs, education services (Kota!!) and ofcourse Government, regulators and Society at large. Including International.

I am sure we would have representation from all these categories of stake holders in Team-BHP.
So folks; What ails the Higher Education sector in India?

Could you share your thoughts, experiences, views? No political references please. (We all know their capability)

Last edited by earthian : 27th September 2017 at 20:58.
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Old 28th September 2017, 08:44   #2
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 28th September 2017, 09:13   #3
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

Having spent over 40 years in an IIT I think I am qualified to comment. Our system is plagued with rote learning, syllabi not dynamic, poor infrastructure and faculty (in fact the proliferation of IITs, IIMs and AIIMSes has added to the woes). We need a massive overhaul, but who will bell the cat. IIMs have done better than others. On the other hand in the Private Sector, esp healthcare we have done remarkably well. So the latent skills are there but not tapped.
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Old 28th September 2017, 09:22   #4
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

I agree. Who will bell the cat ? I dont see anyone in the government saying lets get together a bunch of good minds and evaluate our entire system. We dont have to re-invent the wheel. There are benchmarks available and its not difficult to find the reasons. But I am afraid that government doing something about it will again bring in inefficiencies, corruption etc even in the attempts.
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Old 28th September 2017, 09:44   #5
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

We are setting the clock backwards in the few institutions which have a good track record. We have unfortunately had people suggesting that we knew flying and plastic surgery way before than anyone else did and these should be researched in IITs and AIIMS.
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Old 28th September 2017, 10:34   #6
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

This topic has been beaten to death for many years in this thread. I have made more than 150 posts there. I really have nothing new to say. There is no light in this tunnel.

Last edited by Samurai : 28th September 2017 at 10:44.
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Old 28th September 2017, 10:46   #7
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Another big point is that the schooling system, parents, and general society just can't look beyond the IITs, NITs and government medical colleges. If you take Science in 11th and are anything good at it, you HAVE TO go for IIT, that's the Holy Grail. The fact that IITs are nowhere on the world scale does not matter. This is something that plagues not just middle and lower middle class people, but also the educated, aware and well travelled families. My folks belong to the second category, and I have been through it. I was good. But no. No going out when you have the "best" institutes right here in India.


Then there is the quality of education, and the relevance of what is tought. I couldn't crack IIT, and did my engineering from another non branded (if it's not IIT, it's not worth mentioning) institute. I am a mechanical engineer and am into hardcore manufacturing, running my own business. Take it from me... It's been 5 years since I graduated, and I haven't found anything learnt in Btech to be useful in any way till date.

All the effort, the sleepless nights, the books devoured, the tension taken, the mental abuse and the money spent over 6 years (11th till graduation) have basically given zero output. Everything that helps me work or earn, I learnt on the job.

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Old 28th September 2017, 11:46   #8
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
Our system is plagued with rote learning, syllabi not dynamic, poor infrastructure and faculty
Exactly. When it comes to higher education, there is a lack of mindset. However, in defense of institutes like IIT, while there seem to be efforts to encourage students to take up research, there is one serious roadblock which I have personally observed and has been voiced vehemently by friends who have pursued research outside.

Take the case of a research student who needs to procure some material/instrument. At IITs, where the system is probably the most evolved in India, professors expect that the student runs pillar to post in getting funds within the institute and then sweats it out trying to procure the material from outside. Some professors take pride in teaching students the true meaning of research which, as per them, is to sweat it out.

Compare this to foreign universities, all that the student needs to do put in a procurement request online and once approved by professor, end to end work is managed by university and material is delivered to student in his lab.

This core difference in the outlook towards research is what, I believe dilutes the quality of work happening here.
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Old 28th September 2017, 11:54   #9
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

Before getting into college level...I'm sharing an incident here from our kids school...

In May 2017, few teachers from our kids school were sent to Finland to learn about their education system & impart the learning from there to here (Initially it sounded like WOW to me as school is investing so much on this, later came to know this is mandated by CBSE board)

Anyway, back to story, I was interested in learning what difference could a parent make, so I met one of the teacher & asked about their learning experience. What they said was a minor setback to me, but then, it's Finland's culture. But the education system of Finland sounded little enthusiastic because what we as parents are doing was done by the school there.

Cutting long story short & apart from a child enrolled in school at 7 years, the kid is taught numbers & systems in primary & simultaneously the child is also given an application, say, to build a wooden chair. It takes about 5-7 years for the child to make one, but he/she learns the numbers through practical experience in measuring & cutting (force, momentum, inertia etc) the wood & finally by the age of 14 or so he/she makes a chair. This is just an example.

So the teacher enthusiastically tried to bring in those changes here on every 3rd Saturday of the month

They made about 5-6 groups with each group consisting of 6-7 kids per group (incidentally my Son was asked to name each group & guess what he names the groups? Arctic White, Premium Silver, Granite Grey...most SCross owners may relate these names). And each group had to bring some vegetables, fruits, curd, milk or whatsoever & prepare a food in the class. And the school took it so serious that they dedicated about 4 hours for this task.

There was a fun point system that every group will get certain (useless) points & at the end of the year the group with highest point will be recognized (don't know in what way). Parents were allowed to watch from outside of the class as this was a fun activity.

On the first attempt, as usual, most kids ran chaos except for 2 groups; needless to say, our Son's group had highest point. Probably the reason, we guided our Son on how to go about getting this done, how to manage other kids (he being the lead in his group), how to get every kid involved & get the entire work done & last but not least, weather win or lose, never fail to appreciate every team member in his group.

On the second attempt, some parents entered the class (told by our Son), helped the kids to cut vegetables & fruits, decorate the salad etc. Again, our Son's team won this time but the second highest point was to a different group.

On the third attempt, entire scene had changed; some parents had bought mixer & guess what one of the group made in the class? Chocolate Pudding!! A 10 year old kid making a pudding!! The point & ranking was dropped this time for unknown reason.

There was no fourth attempt!! God knows what happened to that idea; I've to inquire about this after probably after Diwali holidays.

Point - Competition is sowed right at the kindergarten & not necessarily at college or at work; instead of enabling children to learn on their own, the modern day parents aid them in winning which is root cause for every single problem & now we blame the education. Like Samurai san says It is kind of chicken and egg problem. Parents want the change but blame the education system & if the education system tries to make a change, the parents want to take that back

PS - We haven't witnessed any of the incidents above, all were narrated by our Son; on the third class, he witnessed few kid's Mothers, Aunts inside the classroom with their individual mixer & blender while their respective wards were running between each class.
PPS - The teachers DID allow a mixer to be bought on the condition that it had to be shared by everyone, so it was one mixer per 120 odd students (3 classrooms)

Last edited by aargee : 28th September 2017 at 12:01.
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Old 28th September 2017, 12:52   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Point - Competition is sowed right at the kindergarten & not necessarily at college or at work; instead of enabling children to learn on their own, the modern day parents aid them in winning which is root cause for every single problem & now we blame the education. Like Samurai san says It is kind of chicken and egg problem. Parents want the change but blame the education system & if the education system tries to make a change, the parents want to take that back
Exactly. I can cite an example from the corporate world:

Whenever there is a workshop or some training and a task is given, everyone rushes into a huddle and tries to implement the final solution. I have tried many times to say: it is not the end result which the trainer is seeking, but rather the methodology which is being imparted in the training. You know what: NO ONE listens to me. Just no one. They are so busy trying to complete the task. The trainer will be more than happy to see the line-of-thought, instead of the final product. People just ignore. Competition is ingrained in our blood so deep, that we are running blind.
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Old 28th September 2017, 13:19   #11
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Default Re: What ails our Higher Education Institutions?

Our education system needs a revamp with focus on preparing millions for the future, but instead we are still stuck in a culture of learning everything before exam and forgetting after exam.

Second problem I see is why waste IIT seat if you have no interest in adding value within your degree and instead will go on to do MBA and then become a banker.

Goals should be clear if getting a seat in prestigious IIT & similar institutions then for lets say X number of years you have to add value within that field, incase not then fund another students IIT expense as someone lost that seat to you.

Moreover make education till 12th free and college education expensive to fund for cutting edge technologies & resources.

Lastly no reservations in colleges, please. Only merit should count!
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Old 28th September 2017, 14:29   #12
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It's been 5 years since I graduated, and I haven't found anything learnt in Btech to be useful in any way till date.
Everything that helps me work or earn, I learnt on the job.
This basically sums up the failures of our 'education' system. The WHY is entirely missing from the equation, there is only WHAT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
So the teacher enthusiastically tried to bring in those changes here on every 3rd Saturday of the month.
Good on part of the school and kudos to you for imparting this knowledge to your son. But as far as the school is concerned, this is where the good part ends. They do not take into consideration that they must put in efforts to mold the teachings to fit the Indian system and more importantly Indian parents.


Quote:
Originally Posted by asingh1977 View Post
Exactly. I can cite an example from the corporate world:
This reminds me of my previous organization where I had a super competitive boss. We were working on a system which had 30 components and we outsourced 5 of them to another team. Now when the other team reported that they were nearing completion, my boss says to me - arey unka toh ho gaya hum kyun peeche hain ? (they have finished, why are we behind?). I had to remind him that we were working on 25 components with less developer strength and also providing for POCs for the same!

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Originally Posted by heydj View Post
Second problem I see is why waste IIT seat if you have no interest in adding value within your degree and instead will go on to do MBA and then become a banker.

Lastly no reservations in colleges, please. Only merit should count!
Even today, most (if not all) the students entering college have ANY idea regarding the options that are available for them to explore as a career. It is either a doctor or an engineer which then translates into a job in IT. 2-3 years into IT and everyone wants to be a CEO of a startup.

Career counselling is a part which should be closely related to what is being taught in schools and colleges to make the graduating student knowledgeable and employable. Learning life skills should be given more importance than mugging up the entire text book.
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Old 28th September 2017, 17:18   #13
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Originally Posted by luvDriving View Post
This basically sums up the failures of our 'education' system. The WHY is entirely missing from the equation, there is only WHAT.
---snip---
Even today, most (if not all) the students entering college have ANY idea regarding the options that are available for them to explore as a career. It is either a doctor or an engineer which then translates into a job in IT. 2-3 years into IT and everyone wants to be a CEO of a startup.

Career counselling is a part which should be closely related to what is being taught in schools and colleges to make the graduating student knowledgeable and employable. Learning life skills should be given more importance than mugging up the entire text book.
Reminds me of an interesting article I had read in the Hindu a few years back. Here's a snippet

Quote:
The Indian educational system, from kindergarten to university, focusses on rote learning. Although the Central Board of Secondary Education has come up with a number of measures to alleviate the anxiety of students, this is surely not the case with the different Board systems followed by the different States. For example, in Tamil Nadu, there are virtually no application-oriented questions in the State Board examination, a life-altering event for many students that determines which college they would get into. All questions, barring the multiple-choice questions for just 25 marks out of 200, in the Mathematics paper are from the prescribed text book: with no numbers changed, no names altered. It is actually possible to gain grace marks if a math problem is asked outside of the textbook or if the numbers are changed in the problem: it is conveniently considered as ‘out of syllabus’!
Quote:
And this is where the Indian system decides to abandon him or her and perform the disappearing act. The new graduate, with consistently high scores in school and university, is unable to find a job. Even if he or she does, the candidate will find it difficult to come up with solutions to real-world problems at work or home, or think out of the box. After all, how do you expect a person to think out of the box after the ‘education’ that he or she has received precisely was about stuffing him or her into a box every day? This explains why India churns out engineers as China churns out plastic souvenirs. Most Indian graduates in the job market are unemployable; whether they really wanted to be what they studied for is a different story. They do not have the requisite communication skills to express their ideas and they have not been trained to think (the upside is that they have an amazing memory).
Here's the article .

Cheers !

Article Courtesy : http://www.thehindu.com
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Old 28th September 2017, 18:35   #14
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Sorry to sound stupid, but how exactly does education (or at least what is being taught in educational institutions help people?)
Maths - up to high school maths, yes, after that, how many of us here have used statistics or differential equations in real life?
Physics - Perhaps as team bhpians, we might appreciate the technical stuff behind a car, but how many of you have used s=ut+1/2 at2 in real life?
Chemistry (No they didnt teach me how to cook meth)
History and geography (absolutely useless)
Regional Languages - Absolutely useless
English - used to think it was useless too, but hey, it got my team bhp membership approved
I went on to do a B tech, which was nowhere near used in the IT job I got into
and then did an MBA, which was somewhat useful, but mostly because of the institute and alumni network.

I have found absolutely no return on investment in the learning itself. the certificate itself has some value, but the bar is extremely low. People care more about attitude, soft skills, learnability etc.
I remember during a rural visit with an NGO, a farmer asking us, what practical skills can my son learn if he goes to school? I have land, I am perfectly capable of teaching him to farm. If he goes to school, chances are, that he will get some entry level job in the city, and will have to run the rat race and live in relative poverty. His land is fertile, and had sustained his family for generations in peace, and prosperity. Why fix something that isnt broke?

Honestly I don't see how education, especially higher education is the answer

Last edited by greenhorn : 28th September 2017 at 18:38.
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Old 28th September 2017, 20:02   #15
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Having spent over 40 years in an IIT I think I am qualified to comment. Our system is plagued with rote learning, syllabi not dynamic, poor infrastructure and faculty (in fact the proliferation of IITs, IIMs and AIIMSes has added to the woes). We need a massive overhaul, but who will bell the cat. IIMs have done better than others. On the other hand in the Private Sector, esp healthcare we have done remarkably well. So the latent skills are there but not tapped.
I agree 100%. Having studied both in India and the US, I can safely say that the myth that Indian students can whip American students is just that -- a myth.

We are "well trained". That's it. Give us a book and an exam and we will nail it like nobody else. Not to say that our students are dumb. They're very smart. Just that our education doesn't allow them to maximize their potential. The science projects that students work on in the US are way more superior, relevant, practical than what we worked on as students. We are totally unemployable once out of college. We were learning Pascal in 2002 while the world had moved on to God knows what. We are awesome with software? I don't think so. We are awesome at coding. That's very different from software design. We do have some shining stars in the global IT industry but these people were brilliant to begin with and were smart enough to gain the required skills to compliment their brilliance.

The average student in a US university (software engineering at least) will be way better at his craft than an average Indian student. -- Fact!
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