Published On: Mon, Mar 26th, 2012

India in Higher Education Emergency : TeamLease India Labour Report 2012

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Manish SabharwalMohit GuptaTeamlease University

A TeamLease labour report released on Monday highlights the three tragedies in Indian higher education of low enrolments in colleges, lack of physical access to educational institutions and pursuing degree for social signalling value that don’t lead to employability or jobs. It suggests that India is in a higher education emergency because of the challenges of enrolment, physical access, and employability.

Mohit Gupta, senior VP of TeamLease, says: “The higher education situation in the country is pathetic. We once interviewed a candidate from one of the smaller towns in North India. He was an MA in English but could speak only Hindi. When asked why, he replied, ‘I am an MA in English but did it in Hindi!’”

Very few students in the country pursue higher education (compared to global counterparts) and unfortunately, more for social status than with career outlook. The higher education gross enrolment ratio is 11 per cent, which is merely half of the world average and way behind developed countries (54 per cent).

Moreover, the low enrolment is compounded by an uneven spread of higher educational institutes. Only five states have more than 20 universities and five have only one. Sixteen states do not have a single central university. The study shows that non-availability of courses in new and emerging areas, inadequate infrastructure facilities and obsolete equipment are some of the issues that have severely dented efforts in improving the quality and scale of education, employability and employment.

The report suggests India’s 30 per cent gross enrolment ratio objective by 2030 requires solutions that combine the needs of policy makers, employers and students. Community colleges offering two-year associate degree programmes combine all stakeholder needs.

These colleges would end the dead-end view of vocational education by allowing those with certificates and diplomas to convert them into associate degrees and degrees with additional study. They would expand geographic access via multiple delivery modes (small centres, large campuses, internet/ satellite campus and apprenticeships) and place employers at the heart of curriculum, certification and outcomes.

On the other hand, community colleges could raise higher education enrolment by 80 lakh. They would also increase the diversity of our higher education population by excluding differences such as geographic, gender and disadvantaged population.

Geographic equity in higher education requires 30 per cent of this additional 80-lakh-community college/ vocational university capacity in UP and Bihar. Overall distribution could be 31 per cent each for the central and eastern regions, 13 per cent each for northern and southern regions and 6 per cent each for north eastern and western regions.