Published On: Thu, Nov 20th, 2014
Articles / Faculty Development | By Bikash Sahoo

Where are the academic search firms in the country ?

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Latest reports suggests that there are 44,668 institutes offering higher education in India. Of that, 33,668 offer various degrees, while the rest offer diplomas. With this staggering number of institutes to offer jobs, the Outlook Survey 2012 correctly identifies this sector as one of the major employment drivers in India today and tomorrow.

When there is such extensive opportunity for recruitment in the sector, I wonder why there are insufficient contenders. Why do the colleges, universities, and institutions struggle to hire by themselves? Where are the recruitment specialists? For the purpose of simplification, lets put aside the government sector and focus on the private sector alone.

Are all the positions being advertised and closed internally, or do we conduct processes merely to fill vacancies to meet the UGC norms? Let us look at a current example. In the recent Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) Higher Education Summit – 2014, one of the discussions was on talent, faculty and competence, and the usual complaint was the absence of best talent as faculty. Is it the salary?

Though many of us may be clued in, here is an outline of the avenues of earnings for faculty in Indian Education system

  1. UGC scale salary (deliberately avoiding the numbers here to avoid debate on absoluteness vs relative)
  2. Consultancy – Yes, it seems far-fetched for even the new IIMs, but I have seen faculty from small rung institutes successfully executing projects from corporate
  3. Research grants – This is the new fad. Every research grant taken up by the faculty is publicized by the university or institute to draw quality students in the next admission season. So the faculty is the new celebrity.
  4. Trainings and seminars – Develop special skills & deliver paid seminars. An advanced excel seminar sells at Rs 2500/- per student.
  5. Coaching and tuition industry – I am really surprised to see people wishing to take tutions to clear even engineering semesters..

Isn’t this monetary and opportunity enough incentive to attract the best talent in the country to teach?

Further, personally I have had several requests from friends in the corporate sector,“Itne din se education industry mein hai, ek visiting faculty assignment mere liye dekh le – it would be fun to teach.” Bringing me to the conclusion that unavailability of talent in not the issue.


There are some very pertinent questions to be asked here.

  1. Are we ready to pivot?
    • Private colleges and universities have been traditionally owned by individuals or families, but it’s time to pivot. To continue to OWN it (pun intended – consolidation of education industry doesn’t seem too far), it’s important to bring in specialists – recruitment specialists who can get you the best faculty, dean, or Vice Chancellor who align with your vision of growth, or more importantly create a vision for growth
    • Think of the faculty not as a cost centre, but as a sustained investment centre for organic growth of the institution
    • Look beyond IITs and IIMs toward corporate experience and projects undertaken as the yardstick for the selection procedure
  • Do we recognise the possible landmine we are sitting on?
    • With FDI opening (I hope it will be on the cards soon), quality shall be the name of the game. And quality shall begin with core-competence of the value you add, i.e. education. Better faculty, better education.

Enough procrastination! What can we do to improvise and help institutes get the best faculty?

  • Innovate in the short-term, while simultaneously building for the distant vision
  • Find specialised academic search firms to help you with in-budget hiring
    • Try and create flexible timetables to allow guest faculty to help fill the talent gap
    • Scout and induct newer people
    • Conduct regular faculty training programmes
  • Inspire research work and corporate consultancy projects, instead of administration jobs for your faculty
    • Imagine a Software Developer asked to have joint assignment of ensuring cab booking apart from 3 hours of coding daily. He would end up doing neither perfectly!
  • Incentivise growth for faculty in respective fields of study and not because of college administration management
    • You can always hire professional managers for administration, admission, or project management purposes and train them for requisite functional knowledge.

Lets build quality education. Happy Recruiting!