"The challenge facing India's higher education is far reaching.
India has excellent universities, and their alumni are assured of
securing work both domestically or abroad. But this is just the tip
of the iceberg. A large part of the university programs do not
cater to the needs of the business community, as the content is not
sufficiently relevant or because of out-dated teaching methods that
do not teach the right skills. Many university graduates do not
find suitable work and have to accept work that is considerably
beneath their capabilities. This is not only disastrous for the
graduates themselves, but also for the Indian economy. After all,
the education level of the working population is an important
condition for the further development of the economy.
Gap between demand and supply
It must be considered here that the number of young people in
India who follow the complete school path of primary, secondary and
university education is very limited and that something along the
lines of an upper secondary and higher vocational education hardly
exists in India at all. Furthermore, the number of children that
complete primary education differs considerably from state to
state, and this is even more so for secondary education. Moreover,
the question begs to be asked to what extent the children who
completed primary school actually received education, even here the
differences are great. The potential of the student is
significantly under-utilized, whereby a quality as well as a
quantitative gap exists between demand and supply.
Thus, measures are needed to encourage children to attend
primary and secondary school and to ensure a good quality of
education. In addition to this, it is necessary to broaden the post-secondary education
landscape. Of course, the universities have to gear the programs
better to the needs of the economy, both in relation to content as
well as skills, but alongside this, upper secondary and higher
vocational education programs have to be set up.
More flexibility needed
The Indian government is aware of the gap between demand and
supply on the labour market. But at the same time the content of
the university education is to a large extent determined centrally,
which means the flexibility to actually meet the demand is limited.
Private universities (whether or not recognized as such) cater to
this situation. They often run practical programs at an upper
secondary, higher vocational or, as the case may be, academic
level. As with many emerging economies, 'distance education' is
also popular, often in combination with local lessons and practical
education. This form of education has really taken hold in India.
Private education institutions offer significantly more
professional programs than the government.
The Indian government should, in particular, concentrate on
decentralising higher education and allow more flexibility. This
would also reduce the complexity of the governance and the
necessary transformation process. The government should fulfil a
more enhanced role as quality monitor without wanting to exactly
prescribe what has to be taught."
Prof. dr. Frits van Merode, former scientific director of
Maastricht University India Institute, Professor of Logistics and
Operations Management in Health Care and Dean of Sciences,