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Higher Education in India: Vision 2030

EY/FICCI. Higher Education in India: Vision 2030. 2014. Pages: 79.

Commissioned by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and compiled by the professional services firm EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), this report sets out a roadmap for Indian higher education till the year 2030. After a brief overview of higher education developments in India in the past years, the report swiftly shifts to its core topic by pointing out upcoming economical and demographical changes. According to current predictions, by 2030 India is likely to become the most populous country, the third largest economy and will have the youngest population in the world with a median age of 32. All of this creates huge new opportunities for India and its higher education sector, but also requires careful planning and assistance in order to ensure a well-functioning and prosperous higher education system. 

One of the main proposals of the report is the creation of a deliberately differentiated system of higher education institutes consisting of three types:

  • Research-focused institutes compromising the top 10 % of total enrolment and addressing innovation and intellectual imperatives;
  • Career-focused institutes for around 30-40 % of total enrolment and producing industry-ready graduates with a focus of addressing economic imperatives; and
  • Foundation institutes for 50-60 % of student enrolment with a holistic education and addressing social imperatives. 
These, in turn, will play different roles within the proposed, comprehensive roadmap of how to provide the necessary higher education architecture for India till 2030. In consequence, the authors distinguish between seven areas in which specific actions are needed.

  • Faculty – establishment of a new recruitment scheme and a tenure-based system for university staff; creation of a stronger performance culture through financial incentives and promotions; and a model for increased cooperation among regional higher education institutions.
  • Research – fostering cooperation with top-tier international universities; establishment of Indian centres of research excellence; and promotion of industry and academia collaboration.
  • Partnerships – strengthening of ties between higher education institutes and skill-based training providers as well as a synchronisation of the country’s higher education system with industry needs and requirements.
  • Infrastructure – creation of new higher education institutes; increase of institutes’ intake capacity; establishment of high-quality foreign university branch campuses in India; and investments in virtual classrooms and MOOCs.
  • Funding – new higher education funding scheme with competitive research grants, an increased share of GDP investment in research comparable to Western states; a merit and need-based funding approach for students;  an outcome-based funding approach for higher education institutes; and encouragement for alumni funding from top-tier institutes.
  • Governance and leadership – introduction of simplified rules and regulations; governance framework recommendations for higher education institutes; establishment of a national accreditation agency as well as smaller agencies with specialised foci; and a differentiated governance and regulatory structure for the three proposed types of higher education institutes. 
Although the report does not necessarily elaborate on all recommendations in detail, it clearly shows the need for a full-fledged reform of India’s higher education system.  However, the report’s roadmap approach to the future challenges of the Indian higher education system comes with a tiny flaw. Rather than addressing critical issues in a direct way, the authors opt for a list of recommendations:  unfortunately,  they do not dare to link these to India’s current higher education problems such as India’s low gross enrolment ratio, the insufficient share of employable university graduates due to insufficient skills, the minimal citation rate of Indian researchers, or the poor and outdated quality of curricula. Nevertheless, the report provides a very useful overview of India’s upcoming economical and demographical development, the current state of affairs in higher education and – above all – a number of important recommendations for a successful higher education system.

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