If we want to transform the economy of our country, then this can be done through education, as our economy like that of the U.S. is a knowledge-based one. An educated work force has the potential to drive the market and uplift the overall living standard of the country. To achieve the said objective of overall development of the country, higher education and its quality is of utmost importance.

It won’t be wrong to say that India has huge potential in terms of manpower, resources, skill set and brains. What we do not have, at present, is the quality of education and the right way of imparting it, more specifically in education beyond high school.

As Information Technology is spreading its tentacles deep into our society, one can see a swift change in the education as well as job sectors of India. So the old way of imparting higher education in India is no longer relevant to the job market as well as the quality of education that other developed countries like the U.S. is providing to its students.

To fill this gap, Indo-US collaboration in the education sector is gaining momentum. India has asked the U.S. for an academic partnership with diverse US institutions. The two countries have recently identified eight joint projects, each worth US $250,000. Also, the U.S. will assist India to implement a series of measures that will help address major challenges in the education sector. Before implementation, training will be provided by the U.S. to 125 faculties and 100 teachers from India, who have already been identified. India, at present, is facing many issues like education of teachers, a way of imparting education in schools and higher institutes, assessments of schools as well as teachers and participation of communities in education. Shortage of trained faculty is the biggest challenge in higher education.

In 2010, a form of collaboration between Indian colleges and that of Montgomery Community College was set up. Further, progress will be made in this sector and the way to impart cost-effective as well as high quality education will be found out in the present Indo-US collaboration in the education sector.

Higher Education in India – An Insight

The education system in ancient India was much advanced and its standard was very close to the medieval universities in Europe. There were Hindu gurukuls, the Buddhist viharas and the Quranic madarasas. But with British rule, a western system of education was forced in India, leading to the formation of the first university under colonialism in 1818 near Calcutta. By the time India got independence in 1947, it had 19 universities and hundreds of colleges. Today, India has the largest number of institutions imparting higher education in the world. But if enrollment of students in these institutions is considered, then India ranks third. There are 500-600 students who get enrolled each year in these universities as compared to 3500 in the US and near about 8000 in China.

If we look at the types of institution for higher education in India, we have different forms of the same. Some of the Universities in India are formed by the Parliament. Also there are state level universities as permitted by the Constitution. Then there are institutes (deemed to be universities) that have been provided with the power to grant degrees. Also, thousands of affiliated colleges in India have affiliation with higher universities. Affiliated colleges are an integral part of higher education in India. At the end, of course, degrees are granted by the university to which these colleges are affiliated.

Comparison between India and the U.S Education

In the U.S., the federal government has nothing to do with institutions of higher education. This means the federal government does not maintain or regulate institutions of higher education. It just provides students’ grants and loans. Whereas in India, the central government has a direct relationship with some of the universities and it also establishes some of these universities. Central funding is used to maintain these institutions.

In the U.S., state-level governments play an authoritative role for operating the educational institutes. It also prevents fraudulent practices of higher education. In India, most of the public higher education institutions are funded by the state government that plays a very little role in maintaining standards and quality of education.

Internal accountability to review and assess students’ outcome is very strong in higher education institutions in the U.S. But this varies a lot, and is not so strong across different institutions in India.

In the U.S., there is a clear demarcation of roles of the federal government, the state governments and the voluntary accreditation agencies known as Triad. They work towards one goal: to provide high quality higher education. Whereas regulatory system of higher education in India is very complicated with involvement of the central government, the state governments, the UGC (statutory government-controlled body), professional councils and the voluntary accreditation agencies.

Problems faced by higher education system in India

Central universities like IITs, IIMs, etc are funded by the central government and have excellent infrastructure, faculties, and funds for research. Whereas state universities lack all these or some of these features, so there exists a huge difference in quality of education between these two types of universities. More than two-thirds of universities in India and about 90 percent of colleges impart mild to poor quality higher education. More than half of the teaching faculty in colleges of India is without an appropriate degree. These are the findings of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.

There is a huge variation in the course structure, way of assessing and exams in different institutions and universities. Curriculum of higher education lacks quality and relevance. Less importance is given to research and development in higher education. Number of students taking admission in universities and higher institutions is very less as compared to the U.S. Just 7% of India’s 18-24 years old enter higher education. In India, there is lesser scope of initiatives for change due to over-regulation of these universities.

My Views
I feel that the approach of imparting higher education should be oriented more towards job and present-day industry rather than just offering traditional courses. Technical education and practical experience should be given prime importance. Experts from the industry must collaborate with education sector at grass root levels to provide practical education as well an insight into contemporary problems in the industry. There should be regular lectures by these industry experts in schools, colleges and universities.

If this US collaboration in Indian education sector becomes successful, we can hope to have a better education system, skill set as per the market trend, economic development and overall growth of our country.