Friday, February 21, 2014

State of Higher Ed in India: Time to Act is Now

I would like to share an urgent issue of "State of Higher Ed in India: Time to Act is Now".
The views expressed in the table below are my personal observations reflecting on education system in India and the United States. I also have a vantage point of working in the industry for over 39 years and joining academia with my industry experience 20 years ago. In the last two decades, I have an honor to associate with 30 different educational institutions globally.

Current State
Future State

Focus on Rote Learning

Encourage Inquiry-based Learning

Focus on Dry Theories
Include Best-In-Class Practices

Irrelevant Curriculum
Align Curriculum with Industry Needs

Lack of Soft Skills in Curriculum
Focus on Soft Skills in Curriculum
(Communication, Leadership, Project Management)

(Interpersonal skills, Problem Solving, Teamwork)

No Social Service Requirement
(Unused Potential)

Require Social Service for Graduation
(Engage the Youth in Nation Building)

Lack of Quality in Education
(Curriculum, Entire System)

Instill Quality in Education
(In Curriculum, System-Wide Excellence)

Faculty Lack Industry Experience
Recruit Faculty with Few Years of Industrial Experience

Static Faculty Knowledge
(Use of Old Teaching Materials)

Require Faculty Knowledge Upgrade Continuously

Lack of Industry Interactions
Create Advisory Boards with Industry Leaders

Tie-Up with Professional Organizations

Lack of Alumni Interactions
Strengthen Alumni Association for Better Branding

Post Secondary Higher Education (age 18 and above):

As per Report of the Higher Education in India, key issues are related to Expansion, Inclusiveness, Quality, and Finance (University Grants Commission [UGC], September 2010). The access to higher education measured in term of Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) increased from 0.7% in 1950/1951 to 1.4% in 1960–61. By 2006/2007 the GER increased to about 11 percent. By 2012, (the end of 11th plan objective) is to increase it to 15%.

Education and The World Bank:

Education is fundamental to development as it contributes strongly to economic growth. It also holds sustainable, proven benefits for people in terms of higher earnings, better health, and greater resilience to shocks. 

Helping countries reform their education systems to promote learning for all is a central thrust of the World Bank’s Education Strategy. The concept is broad, recognizing that it takes multiple actors and reforms to realize progress.

Why Systems?

Because a systems approach focuses on education outcomes, and how inputs contribute best. The results depend not only on having enough classrooms, teachers, and textbooks but also on having the policy environment, resources, and accountability mechanisms that can promote—and not obstruct—education results.

SABER (Systems Approach for Better Education Results) is a global knowledge platform that is helping countries assess their education policies and identify actionable priorities to help education systems achieve learning for all. Policy areas covered by SABER include early child development, student assessment, teachers, and workforce development.  

  • By collecting data on policies and institutions that matter for success (according to evidence) and producing an objective snapshot of how well the system is performing in relation to global good practice (and other countries).
  • By providing metrics to measure and monitor progress.
  • By promoting cross-country learning.

US Baldrige Performance Excellence in Education Framework:

In the Unites States, by the Act of Congress in 1987, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Award Program was established. In 2001, Education category was included in the Program. Since 2001, there are 10 educational institutes that have won the prestigious national award for Excellence in Education. It includes seven K-12 schools, one community college, one undergraduate business school, and one university. You can learn more about Baldrige in Education at

These criteria focus on Systems Approach and include seven categories starting with Leadership and ending with Results. Personally, I have a pleasure to use the Baldrige Criteria at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Naperville, Illinois School System, and in my Operations Management/Quality Management courses since 1993 at various business schools in the Chicago area and in India.

The ASQ India has a singular focus of uplifting educational excellence at all levels (primary, secondary, and in higher education areas). We firmly believe that by using the Baldrige in Education Criteria, one can begin the assessment of an institution, identify areas of strengths, and opportunities for improvement. There are various role model examples of Baldrige Award Winners in Education. Learning and adapting some of the best practices from the winners will serve Indian Educational Institutions well.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on this critical issue of transforming education system in India.


  1. Dear Dr. Manu Vora, Thanks for excellent global analysis and future requirements enlisted for higher educational learning. Unfortunately, while every policy maker will agree with the same, the malaise starts from the root management at the base of every institution. There is no formal recognition for any innovation in teaching and learning methods. If you excel in teaching and innovative techniques, there's no formal recognition from the management. The authorities are interested only in the no. of papers published, phds produced and seminar/ conferences attended/organised. Hence , at junior level, it suffers. One can indulge in quality teaching, only at the end, when all the promotions are achieved and you are free to do what you like in an innovative way. Can you help getting genuine teaching acknowledged and appreciated at junior level, so that we can see the fruitful results in teaching?

  2. Dr. Hemant, to address the concerns you raised, it will require policy changes. A system-wide review of current practices and its impact should be analyzed and appropriate changes should be initiated. This will require enlightened leadership.

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