Higher education needs to be professionalised
Given India’s changing demographics, professionalisation of higher educational institutions assumes crucial significance and cannot be delayed | Photo Credit: K MURALI KUMAR
The government and the University Grants Commission’s decision to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India is a welcome move.
The initiative will not only provide access to our students to global quality education but create healthy competition between institutions.
In this milieu, professionalisation of the functioning of HEIs has become a top priority for Indian universities.
Other challenges facing Indian higher education include coping with demographic structures, poor performance, adherence to traditional systems, digital divide, and struggles in scaling up. Over-centralisation and a lack of accountability and professionalism are the other issues.
The burden of academic and administrative responsibilities has also significantly increased, diluting the core agenda of higher education, i.e., imparting knowledge, quality teaching and research.
The lack of domain expertise in academic administrators in improving governance structures has also hindered the progress of education reforms.
A primary reason management reforms are not prioritised in India is that university leadership and academic administrators may not have the domain expertise to improve the internal governance structures, processes, and managerial approaches.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty over higher education funding, ever-increasing student enrolment, global competition, the continuation of conventional systems, prioritising digitisation and the continuing marketisation of higher education signal the need for complete modernisation and professionalisation of higher education institutions systems.
Senior academic administrators need to start collaborating to professionalise institutions.
Institutions must continue to evolve, innovate and adapt to dynamic external conditions. Indeed, the rise of managerialism and the erosion of academic autonomy could pose challenges.
Several studies have established that it is crucial to follow strategic HRM practices in higher education institutions to establish gender diversity and maintain a balanced representation of women, particularly in leadership and other academic and administrative positions.
Diversifying the sources of funding is also crucial for modern academic institutions.
Another aspect of professionalisation should be to modernise and specialise in pedagogy and academic programmes.
The outcome of these innovations can create more jobs.
Higher education leaders must ensure employees’ overall development and interpersonal skills, such as creative and critical thinking.
In this context and particularly in the time of the advancement of automation and synergies between Education 5.0 and Industry 5.0, it is essential to innovate and digitise.
Use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, Big Data, and other digital pedagogies towards innovative teaching-learning processes and other functions of higher education is also crucial.
HEIs must recruit quality faculty and experts for academic support functions such as human resource management, financial management, communication, web design, knowledge management, business development, academic research, international student management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), electronic dissemination, marketing and print publications. Providing world class infrastructure and lab facilities will also help in brand building, accreditation and ranking.
The National Education Policy 2020 has also highlighted the importance of modernisation.
The writer, a Fulbright Fellow, is with the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai. Views expressed are personal