NEW DELHI: Expressing concern at the declining quality of higher education in India with none of the Universities figuring in the list of top 200 educational institutions in the world, both President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday called for immediate steps to rectify the situation.
President Pranab Mukherjee, addressing a meeting of the Vice Chancellors of Central Universities convened by him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, said higher education, a powerful tool for the realisation of the nation’s technological and economic advancement, has to “fulfil the aspirations of the youth, who are restless and are looking for directions.”
However, the dearth of key talent for important academic and research positions in important institutions of higher education is a major challenge, he pointed out.
The flight of intellectual capital has to be discouraged by addressing service conditions of faculty and offering them incentives to serve the institutions within the country for longer periods, the President said.
Participation of private sector should be encouraged by formulating appropriate policies without compromising on the social objectives and the quality benchmarks, he added.
“The Central Universities must act as a catalyst in taking forward this policy and make India a knowledge economy,” Mukherjee said.
Referring to the declining standards in the quality of higher education in India, he called for reversing the trend for which collective wisdom is needed.
“Access to knowledge is fundamental to our bid to empower our people. Though India has the second largest higher education system, the gross enrolment in the country in 2010 was only around 19 per cent which is much below the world average of 29 per cent,” the President said.
“The enrolment of the disadvantaged sections is a matter of great concern. For example, for scheduled tribe population the gross enrolment ratio in higher education is only half of the national average,” he added.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his address, noted that while further expansion of the higher education system was necessary to cater to the growing demand, without quality improvement, it would serve little purpose.