A model of attaining excellence in the the higher education
Paradigm literally signifies a typical example, pattern or model of something. Accordingly, paradigm of excellence in the context of higher education is a model or pattern to attain excellence. Excellence in the academic process is the outcome for which all other variables offer core material. Excellence therefore is the function of a variety of variables interacting with each other. These have a multiple rather than additive impact to result in synergy (2×2=4effect) leading to excellence.
The intent is to measure excellence or value addition in the academic process. At the first level, variables individually and in pairs are identified. Accordingly, analyzed and discussed in this write-up hereunder.
Expansion (access) and equity are two very important variables that lead to excellence. The higher education system has now a wide spread as HEIs are operating in every nook and corner. The number has increased at an exponential growth. However, access is not supported with same rate of equity. The system is confronted with a deficit in quality physical infrastructure and intellectual capital. All-inclusiveness with due focus on quality demands that access and equity must move together. The slow speed of equity has resulted in slow speed in process excellence.
Knowledge leads to wisdom and finally truth enabling to make a distinction between right and wrong. “Enjoin the doing of right and forbid the doing of wrong”. Education, a social security, under its umbrella covers Knowledge, values and skills. Bright mind, noble heart, and skillful hand are quintessential components, and their interplay in an adequate quantity, results in process value addition. An inadequacy in any of these three variables will ultimately slow down the pace of socio-economic-educational uplift.
Gap between academic outcome and effort must be as wide as possible. The process spread encompasses in its fold at least “inspire- learn- create”. First, a learner is inspired that learning happens from the existing fund of knowledge. It must result in creation or discovery of new knowledge. By and large, tendency of researchers today is to verify knowledge, rather create or discover knowledge .The interaction of all the three variables –inspire, learn, create –makes the process productive leading finally to excellence.
Excellence is the function of transparency and accountability. The academic operations must be documented and shared with stakeholders and society at large. Institutions of higher learning are thereby transparent in their academic functioning. Simultaneously, the stakeholders in education system need be accountable and responsive as well. Teachers, parents, students, academic administration, civil society at all levels must exhibit ethical behavior to stand accountable for the discharge of role they are assigned to. When transparency effectively interacts with accountability in academic affairs in the system process enrichment is assured.
Effective pedagogy adds value to the learning behaviour. Focus now is on learner-centric pedagogy to enhance learner skills through the right use of ICT, e-content to support and appropriate taxonomy. When pedagogy is buoyed by good academic governance, the HEIs achieve higher level of performance .Effective internal functional controls improve upon performance. The institutional image building or Brand equity leads to higher public trust. The interaction between learner-centric pedagogy with ends in the mind and effective academic governance is essential for excellence.
Motivation shall necessarily be manifold to ensure inquisitiveness and curiosity leading to spread in the process. The dreams shall produce intangibles in the shape of ideas and thoughts, etc. Learners- the core stakeholders are being motivated to put in sustained efforts in this direction .The learning process must be inquisitive and the learners must be able to question the very premise. The interaction between motivation and inquisitiveness is not to find answers but to raise intelligent questions that will result in achieving the objective of excellence.
High academic performance results in high level of accreditation. Assessment and accreditation is a process and not a onetime affair. Continuous performance improvement in all educational segments is therefore a prerequisite .Thus the upward movement in performance will be reflected in a high grade of accreditation .This will ultimately be reflected in excellence.
Academic freedom provides an opportunity to generate new, creative and innovative ideas. This enhances performance in terms of academic outcome. Egalitarian work culture is based on punctuality both in attending duty and meeting the schedule by completing work assigned well in time .The interaction between these two factors enhances the level of excellence.
HEIs must equally focus on research based dissemination and application. Dissemination supported by research activities adds value to the process. The process gets further strengthened when reinforced with extension operations or application like consultancy, counselling, and academic social responsibility, etc. Interaction at higher degree of all these three components finally is reflected in excellence.
Monitoring and evaluation in the shape of internal control mechanism are vital functions of excellence management that are mutually supportive and interactive. These are used at all stages of process cycle. These strengthen curriculum planning, enrich transaction and finally enhance learning outcome. These also assist in decision–making process to generate accountability in resource utilization. Further, these offer experience based practical lessons that guide future development interventions leading to process excellence.
To conclude, it is essential to focus on the variables identified with an objective to attain excellence in educational process. This way HEIs will create a differentiation for themselves and send out students carve a niche in their academic and service career advancement in a learning society.