The National Policy on Education 1986, as amended in 1992, has been the guiding document for the policies of the Central Government in the education sector .To give a new direction to the whole educational set up, the Government has formulated a New Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population's requirement with regard to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.
Quality assurance in higher education is today the top priority of the policy agenda. Post- secondary education needs to prepare graduates with new skills, a broad knowledge base and a wide range of competencies to enter a more complex and interdependent world. Quality is a multi-dimensional concept and several mechanisms for quality assurance and management at individual and institutional level are needed. Systems of accountability and accreditation with a robust regulatory mechanism are essential to the process of sustaining and improving quality.
The global ranking of universities is based on an assessment of the institutional performance in the areas of research and teaching, reputation of faculty members, reputation among employers, resource availability, share of international students and activities etc. Most of the top ranking institutions are located in the USA and UK. The Indian universities do not find a place in the top 100 positions in the global ranking of universities. Even the top ranking institutions of India appear low in the global rankings. As per the Times Higher Education Rankings 2016-17, the top ranked Indian institutions are IISC Bangalore (201), IIT Delhi (401) , IIT Kanpur (401), IIT Madras (401), IIT Kharagpur (501) , IIT Roorkie (501), AMU (601) nd University of Delhi (601). The top ranked institutions as per the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) System 2016-17 were IISC Bangalore (152), IIT Delhi (185) , IIT Kanpur (302), IIT Kharagpur (313), IIT Roorkie (399), IIT Guwahati (481), University of Delhi (501) and BHU (701) .
Does it imply that India has only low quality higher institutions? The idea of establishing accreditation agencies in India was to enhance standards and quality of higher education. As a measure of quality assurance India established accreditation agencies in 1994. The institutions of higher education were supposed to approach the accreditation agencies to get their institution or programme accredited.
Keeping all these facts in view it is felt that for the overall enhancement of standards and quality of higher education and for the development of the Higher Educational Institutions following reforms should be undertaken.
Merit-based student financing:
This should ensure admissions to meritorious students independent of financial background. There should be scholarships for meritorious students from financially weaker sections to continue their education till post graduation.
Internationalization of education:
This would entail aligning different aspects of education (curriculum, faculty, etc) to international standards. This would give a chance to educational institutions to enhance their quality of education in comparison to the international standards.
Enabling a research environment:
This would involve creating adequate means of research funding and practical application of research. This would also encourage teachers to take research projects of various funding agencies like UGC, CSIR, ISRO, DST etc.
High quality faculty:
The need of the hour is to create a conducive environment and provide incentives to attract and retain high quality faculty. Also there is a dire need to provide requisite funds to the teachers for attending conferences, seminars, workshops and other events at regional, national and international levels. This is important to keep the teachers abreast with the latest developments taking place in their respective subjects. For this purpose the feedback from students should also be considered.
Improved technology for education delivery:
ICT in education is proving a change agent in teaching and learning processes. From physical classroom to virtual classroom, ICT has endless possibilities to support teaching and learning experiences. It is high time to adapt changing scenario of ICT in education, and think beyond PPT-OHP multimedia –driven teaching, and leverage potential of technology enhanced learning in full. From EDUSAT to Smart Classroom and e-learning to virtual classroom, the path leads to quality education for anyone, from anywhere and anyplace. Success of HRD sponsored missions and projects like NMEICT and NPTEL beckon for a prospective future in 'ICT in Higher Education'.
Making education-industry relevant and practical would be the right way to ensure a highly employable talent pool. Emphasis should be laid on making university education more professional/vocational so as to make our pass- outs more acceptable in job markets of the world
Assessment and Accreditation
A teacher must be evaluated not only for his teaching but also for his research and extension activities. Regular internal assessment of teachers should be carried out through students. There should be a procedure to carry out regular review and reforms of conventional examination and evaluation patterns. Assessment of all educational institutes by NAAC should be made mandatory and financial support to be provided in accordance with the ranks obtained therein.
Integration and Interaction
Integrated efforts should be made by all stake holders in converting our higher educational institutes into the centres of knowledge and excellence. Interdisciplinary education must be fostered at all levels. Academia-industry and academia-society interactions must be enhanced at all levels. There should be greater autonomy to institutions of higher learning. Concept of autonomous colleges needs to be seriously considered. A well-planned and structured interaction to be developed between Centres of Academic Excellence and our colleges and universities.
Reorientation and Consolidation
Orientation of students towards professional subjects needs to be done at an earlier stage so as to provide greater avenues and foster their inherent capabilities in one particular stream rather than making them study all kinds of subjects irrespective of their personal interests and inclinations.
In concert with plans to broaden access to tertiary study opportunities, the 12th Five-Year Plan also discusses the need for a deepening of academic reforms, with institutions being asked to shift their instructional emphasis from an "input-centric and credential-focused" approach to a more "learner-centric" approach. This is to be achieved through: regular revisions to curricula, the implementation of a choice-based credit system, the introduction of continuous and comprehensive student evaluations, a cumulative grade point system, and new marking and grading schemes.
Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)
It is also hoped that the new semester and credit system will encourage more frequent revisions to curriculum and more relevance to the labor market, with the RUSA policy document outlining a process of curriculum stocktaking and revision every three years.
Author is Associate Professor Department of Physics, Govt. Degree College Bemina Srinagar.