Higher Education in India – Past & Present

UP's & Down's of Higher Edu'n in India
The glimpses into the educational system in India provided in the foregoing chapters show how the system offered ways of imparting literacy and practical knowledge to the masses (so that they may earn a living) as also specialized training for various strata of the society.


This educational system was formulated over centuries through empirical methods, and attempted to fulfill society's day-to-day needs. It was not borrowed from an alien land but grew from native soil. The organization of the educational system remained the same among all sects -- Buddhist, Jaina and Vedic.

After fifty years of independence, India is unable to formulate the educational policy most suited to the country.

Higher education was not the monopoly of the rich as it is today in India. The king did not intervene in the administration, through he, along with the nobles and wealthy merchants, contributed liberally for the cause of education.

Post independence, India has witnessed an enormous growth in its higher education. Still in the higher education sector, the country is far behind China and the United States in GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio). In 1950, around 700 colleges and 16 universities were there in India.

However, if the statistics of UGC's (university Grants Commission) publication "Higher Education at a Glance-2012" is considered then, in 2011, around 33,000 colleges and about 700 universities were there in India. Therefore, in order to achieve the target of 30% GER (i.e. enrolment of around 30% of students who have finished 12 years of education in undergraduate courses) about 1,500 more universities are required. The question is doing India need just more universities or accredited universities, which re-instate the quality of education.

Accreditation History:

  • Just after 1950, the educational policy of the nation focused on the expansion of higher education while in early 90's enhancement in the aspect of quality was made.
  • From 1992, PoA (Programme of Action) was implemented after the New Education Policy was formulated.
  • In 1994, NAAC (National Accreditation and Assessment Council) was set up with its headquarters in Bangalore.
  • By 1998, NAAC began to set certain standards, and benchmarks and grading also started seriously. Before this quality was not considered in case of higher studies.

Only about 4,000 colleges have so far opted for accreditation, and fewer have actually gone for re-accreditation. However, accreditation is still a voluntary option, which is not mandatory.

The quality of education is poor presently. It requires improvement. Therefore, the educators need to work constantly more on the benchmarks and standards in order to measure efficiency, performance and reduction of costs. As some believe "completion of the syllabus" is a benchmark but than completing a syllabus covering a syllabus, even by self-learning is more important.

Various colleges have adopted different practices to enhance the quality of education. Some colleges appraise their students through their participation in entrepreneurial fairs conducted by colleges every year. However, in some colleges every year each teacher has to prepare at least 2 research papers, whereas in some other colleges, it is mandatory for outgoing students of each batch to log in certain hours of soft skills, lab practice and technical training.

In some colleges faculty staffs meet in every Saturday for campus audit. Even, there are norms that 30 reading hours are compulsory in library. Every student and parent can use passwords given to them in order to access information such as, library hours, fee arrears, papers in arrears and books borrowed. Even, students can opt for a variety of short term courses. Even, many colleges assign a mentor among its teachers for each of its students. MoUs is also signed by many colleges for their various research projects.

Discipline was the keyword in all educational institutions. In comparison to modern standards a student's life was austere and joyless. Students were up early in the morning, completed morning ablutions and bathed before dawn. Personal hygiene was of utmost importance.

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