Quality of Higher Education

The higher education system in India has grown in a remarkable way, particularly in the

post-independence period, to become one of the largest system of its kind in the world.However, the system has many issues of concern at present, like financing and management including access, equity and relevance, reorientation of programmes by laying emphasis on health consciousness, values and ethics and quality of higher education together with the assessment of institutions and their accreditation. These issues are important for the country, as it is now engaged in the use of higher education as a powerful tool to build a knowledge-based information society of the 21st Century.


In an environment of global competitiveness it is important that Indian products of the

higher education institutions are as competent as graduates of any other country, Not only in their scholastic attainments, but also in terms of the value system and richness of their personality. Unless the quality and standard of Indian higher education institutions is enhanced zealously and sustained at a high level through innovation, creativity and regular monitoring, it seems to be difficult for the Indian academics/professionals to compete in the World scene. This calls for suitable assessment and accreditation mechanisms to be available in the country to ensure the quality and standard of the academic/training programmes at higher educational institutions. The assessment has to be continuous and the process has to be transparent to gain the acceptance of the society at large.


The fact of the matter is that the Indian elite and middle classes have not cared for making education, what to say of higher education, accessible to the other sections of society. It is ironic that the beneficiaries of privileged access to institutions of higher learning are ever ready to persuade others to believe that the Indian education system has expanded beyond reasonable limits. The fact of the matter is that the system needs to be expanded to a much greater scale to serve the needs of the Indian youth..


Many institutions of higher education in the country are excellent in the sense that their

infrastructure, resources, faculty, programmes of teaching and research are almost as good as the best in the advanced countries. But, the same cannot be said of the average institutions of higher education in the country. They do not come anywhere near the level of average institutions of higher education in the advanced countries. This vast gap in standards and facilities has been a cause of constant anxiety and concern to the policy planners of higher education in India..

The issue of accessibility to quality higher education needs to be addressed in the light of

the vast economic and social disparities, cultural and linguistic diversities, and extremely uneven opportunities of learning at the school level together with the aspirations and capacities of the potential students. Therefore, the question of access to higher education needs to be addressed at the local, regional, national and international levels rom transdisciplinary, inter-disciplinary and discipline-specific perspectives. The issue of accessibility of quality higher education arises in the context of the transition in the country from elitist to mass education in the post-independence period. The issue has significant implications in the sense that it demands a redefinition of the aims of higher education. Some Points that should be Kept in mind.


1. Accessibility and quality upgradation are inseparable dimensions of higher education.

      Over-emphasis on one at the cost of the other would be counterproductive.

2. India being a country of the sub-continental size with a population above 1 billion, the quantitative expansion of education (i.e. accessibility dimension) is of paramount importance to mitigate disparities across regions, gender and social strata in the field of education. This should be given due consideration.

3. Along with the necessary and inevitable quantitative expansion of higher education, it

is equally important to improve the quality of higher education. Institutions of higher

education would find it difficult to meet the challenges of globalization of higher

education if one fails on this front. Emphasis on quality parameters becomes all the

more necessary in the light of mushrooming of private institutions with the opening

up of the Indian economy.

4. Setting up of NAAC has sent the right and positive signals for generating and promoting awareness of the urgent need of quality upgradation of Colleges and Universities. The need is to identify effective ways and strategies to expedite the completion of assessment and accreditation by NAAC within a stipulated time frame.

5. Quality upgradation is not a one time phenomenon. Quest for excellence is a continuous and perennial pursuit. In view of this, post- accreditation complacency must be arrested by evolving quality assurance mechanism for self-regulation. The setting up of an Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), is one such mechanism. The IQAC comprising the Chief Executive, senior academics and officers of the institution should work as a steering group. The Cell may constitute two quality groups, one for academic excellence and another for administrative efficiency. These groups may design strategies for quality enhancement for consideration and implementation by IQAC.

6. Effectiveness of Quality upgradation initiatives in higher education largely depend on

the quality of primary and secondary education. Institutional mechanisms on the pattern of NAAC, may be set up for upgrading the quality of education at these levels to further enhance the outcome of NAAC efforts.

7. Periodic assessment exercises in the future should be undertaken by IQAC as part of

post assessment and accreditation exercises. These could be conducted in collaboration with NAAC.

8. With a view to ensure maximum participation of College teachers in Workshops/ Seminars/Conferences and Orientation/Refresher Courses, it is suggested that these events be organized during lean periods in institutional academic work (i.e. March-July). This would help the teachers to participate in these activities without upsetting the teaching schedule.

9. The seven parameters identified by NAAC for evaluating the quality of institutions,

although useful, need re-examination as they seem to be inadequate to fully assess

the quality of higher education. .

10. WTO has brought far reaching implications for institutions of higher education.

Assessment and accreditation bodies like NAAC should take into account these

implications while reviewing the quality parameters.. The NAAC could also inform

the institutions as to where they stand in terms of the standards of excellence from a

global perspective.

11. At present NAAC is assessing and accrediting Universities and Colleges. This may

not truly reflect the programmes/activities at the Departmental level. With a view to

encourage this, NAAC could move a step further by starting the practice of

assessing and accrediting teaching and research Departments within


12. Multiple bodies have been undertaking assessment and accreditation of Universities

and colleges. It was recommended that an institutional effort should be made to coordinate

the activities of these bodies so that in togetherness they can address the

issues of higher education in a broader societal perspective.

13. Other important recommendations for improving the quality of higher education



i) A well-planned and structured interaction to be developed between Centres of Academic Excellence and other Universities/Institutions;

ii) While restructuring the syllabi and courses, efforts should be made to develop an optimal combination of acquisition of theoretical and practical skills. The courses should be so designed that critical reading and interpretation of classics, practical field work wherever relevant, and application of readings and other skills are given importance;.

iii) Quality of higher education can improve considerably through an extensive and optimal use of audio-visual technologies and Internet. The courses should be so designed to make good use of these modern developments;

iv) In restructuring of syllabi, all stakeholders such as students, teachers and users of services should be involved. However, teachers should be given flexibility within the norms and benchmarks decided by the stakeholders;

v) Examination reforms, gradually shifting from the terminal, annual and semester examinations to regular and continuous assessment of student’s performance in learning should be implemented.

vi) Quality of higher education can also be improved by inducting qualityoriented objectivity in merit promotions of teaching faculty. Specification of weightages for teaching, research publications/ supervision would help in making this transparent and credible;.

vii) Re-organization and integration of various faculties, particularly in social sciences, around inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary courses can also help in quality improvement in teaching, research and consultancy. UGC, ICSSR and other research funding bodies should encourage interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary Seminars/ Conferences/ Research projects.These bodies could allocate at least 50 percent of their research funds for inter-disciplinary activities. UGC could also take initiatives to open Centres/ Schools for promoting multi-disciplinary teaching and research.

viii) Basic Parameters of Academic Merit need to be developed for bringing transparency and credibility in the process of granting promotions under the Career Advancement Scheme. There should be no disparity between Readers/Professors appointed through open selections and those promoted on the basis of the Career Advancement Scheme.

ix) A critical review of activities of higher educational institutions as well as their budgets needs to be conducted to phase out obsolete activities and create the necessary space for new activities. The shifting from traditional incremental budgeting to performance based one is now necessary to arrest the erosion in quality inspite of the resource crunch.