The issue of world-class quality in higher education (HE) is crucial today as survival in a globalised economy depends on the knowledge and skills acquired through HE. However, in India, not only economic development, but other aspects such as social, political and technological growth depend heavily on HE. With the absence of a viable alternative, HE seems to be the best and only means to fulfil these objectives on a priority basis. However, HE in India has a short tradition and history, and is at the receiving end of a negative impact by the complex, diverse and unequal social structure.
Although there have been several efforts to improve quality, HE has been suffering in many ways for several reasons. Quality faculty to meet world standards is a real challenge. This may be due to a lack of ambition and competitive edge among teachers and poor infrastructural facilities in institutions, which are mushrooming every day, thanks to privatisation. Secondly, their (faculty) educational training, knowledge and skills are poor due to inaccessibility to good institutions as scholars and students.
It is worth noting that despite the Sixth Pay Commission, which made teaching a more lucrative career option, many faculty positions lay vacant. There seems to be a gap between opportunities and prospective takers — possibly due to the social and educational background and faculty orientation. Besides this, the management tend to restrict free thought and discourage research. Such institutions seem to be managed more as a source of income and means of power. Government institutions are also being deserted due to a hostile educational environment, lack of quality and good administration.
In this context, training should play a great role to enhance the capacities, skills and knowledge of faculty members. But the question continues to be unanswered — higher education for whom, by whom and for what? Is it (or has it been) being hijacked by a few individuals, organisations and/or politicians as a commodity for material/political gains? Let us hope for better education and a better future in the global village!