Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Education
- July 13, 2016
- Posted by: iNurture
- Category: Blogs
India has huge talent reserves and with the changing economic scenario, various opportunities arise in the context of higher education. Realizing the need for up-skilling the vast proportion of youth and developing an efficient employable force, India is on the path of qualitative development. According to an India Brand Equity Foundation report, the higher education sector in India is the largest in the world, enrolling over 70 million students. This sector is expected to grow at a staggering 18 percent to reach USD 34.12 billion in the next 10 years. Along with government initiatives, private institutions and businesses are taking keen interest to groom the right talent. As India moves towards a digital age, challenges and opportunities in the higher education sector are also circumscribed by advancing technology. This includes a shift to e-learning and introduction of various industry relevant courses, such as digital marketing, IT infrastructure management, cloud analytics, mobile application development, etc.
With the positive outlook on higher education, India also needs to make concerted efforts to address the following challenges to create an environment for education.
- At present, private sector institutions account for 59 percent enrolments in higher education. The initial objective of most of these private institutions is to provide a service, so students could get a degree, and subsequently, a good job. Many education specialists call it the “service model” of education. Although these institutions attract a large number of students due to the high demand of industry relevant courses, quality is what they miss out on. This is a crucial challenge to overcome to enable institutions and students to be innovative and flexible in their approach towards higher education.
- Another challenge in the context of higher education is financial constraints. Expenditure on education and related infrastructure is the key parameter for the government to judge the quality of education. State and central governments can only attribute about 20-30 percent funds from their total budgets on education. Much higher and stable investments are needed to cater to the growing demand. Although, government initiatives have led to foreign direct investment in education, but the strict permissions and policies hinder the flow of investments to a large extent.
- The Indian Education System faces an issue of quality teaching as well. Traditional methods of teaching, more focus on theoretical learning, lack of practical exposure, outdated curricula and pedagogy, and separation of research and teaching are some factors under the purview of this challenge in the higher education sector. Lower levels of teaching quality, no quality assurance, and lack of novel teaching aids for teachers puts the value of education provided in India far behind than that of the institutions in the West.
Corresponding to these challenges, the Indian government, as well as private institutions, have realized the need to reform higher education sector with future forward policies and measures. Some opportunities in the context of higher education in India are specified below.
- With prominent business firms taking the interest in higher education and a steady stream of investors backing educational start-ups, a strategic approach will lead to collaboration between education and entrepreneurship. Enhancing employability of graduates, private institutions liasoning with international organizations can improve the quality of programs they offer. Links to the industry, research skills, a wide range of transferable skills, and vocational skills provide potential interest to investors to engage with the Indian education market.
- Collaboration with foreign institutions and use of the digital medium in the classroom, such as video lectures, foretell huge possibilities for online and blended learning, instructional design, teacher development, management and support systems. Government and institutions in India are creating more opportunities in higher education for streamlined learning to enhance preparedness for the entry of fresh graduates in the market.
- A strong integration of knowledge with co-curricular initiatives to support better learning and teaching is essential to improve standards of higher educational institutions. Today’s demanding and diverse environment requires both students and teachers to be adept at multi-tasking and possess the knowledge to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world problems. Co-curricular activities, such as workshops, seminars, industrial training, internships, etc. provide a multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted approach to learning and teaching. Such initiatives are a fruitful opportunity in the context of higher education.
The demand for higher education and educational reforms in India will provide a multitude of challenges and opportunities in the higher education sector to international institutions and educational businesses. With rapidly widening middle class, this transformation is being driven by economic and demographic change. For higher education in India, excellence, equity, and expansion are three keys which constitute a challenge as well opportunity for the higher education system.
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