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Excellence Blueprints

India’s higher education in need of excellence

Can India reap the benefits of having 64% of its population in the working-age group? Perhaps not! Experts are of the view that one of the biggest spoilers of the party is the lack of excellence in India’s higher education system, which could jeopardize India’s opportunity of reaping the benefits of being the ‘youngest country’ in the world.

It is a 10-year window at best! If our higher educational institutions do not put excellence on the agenda now, we may miss the bus once again.

Dr Sandeep Chatterjee,
Registrar of Jawaharlal Nehru University

India has an opportunity to amplify its economic growth by intensive exploration of the power of its human capital. The ‘youngest country’ in the world has only a decade to reap the benefits of having 64% of its population in the working-age group. However, posing a serious threat to India’s ability to reap the benefits is one enormous challenge – lack of excellence in India’s higher education system, which fuels economic growth and innovation.

While India’s higher education system has scored well on quantity, it is in complete doldrums when it comes to its quality at the global level. There are alarming regional imbalances in the provision of higher education. Quality colleges and universities in small towns and rural India remain a distant reality. At the same time, the quality of education being imparted in existing institutes is poor.

Commitment to excellence requires persistent and consistent continuous quality improvements in all areas of academic excellence: teaching, research as well as outreach that require high performance and trained faculty. Limited university research and innovation opportunities, infrastructure upgrades necessary to compete at 21st century global level, industry-academia gap, tired and old curriculum, and commercialised pedagogical approaches have shortchanged the existing educational system. Benchmarking, using appropriate metrics for raising the bar and marshalling of resource will be the pathway for excellence to the future.

Compounding these systemic deficiencies are the weaknesses in the attitude of pupil and the teacher to focus on excellence.

It is this urgent need to channelise efforts on excellence orientation that catalysed the inception of Institutional Excellence Forum, with a single-point agenda of ‘EXCELLENCE’ (Discovering, Nurturing and Celebrating). Driven by passionate leaders from the fields of academia and industry, IEF is a not-for-profit organisation pledged to ideate, invoke and inspire excellence in education.

Nine key areas form the core of IEF excellence initiatives for higher educational institutions in India: faculty, student intake process, curriculum and pedagogy, research and innovation, endowments and funding, alumni relations, industry interface, infrastructure, and effective leadership.

IEF members are the beneficiaries of all IEF activities in India. The activities include international seminars by thought leaders; IEF excellence agenda conferences and workshops; IEF teaching excellence fellowships and research initiatives; master classes with international firms and experts to provide a practical view of excellence tools and methods; creation of India-centric excellence training material; and faculty development programmes, topped with a range of downloadable excellence training and communication material available on our website.

IEF is also in the process of setting up Excellence Chapters across India to create a vibrant network that is informed and ready to infuse excellence in higher education.

“IEF has firm plans to work with excellence-minded associates from industry, academia, the teaching community, and volunteer communities to get Excellence on India’s agenda,”