With Indians poised to compose close to one-third of the global working age population within the next couple of decades, the country’s burgeoning higher education sector is under scrutiny. To make the most of its economic potential, India requires a skilled and educated workforce. But currently, despite the dramatic expansion of Indian higher education institutions over the past decade, questions as to the quality of education in the country remain.
A KPMG report, Indian Higher Education—The Defining Years, cites the following as problems afflicting the Indian HE sector:
- Lack of qualified faculty
- Ineffective accreditation system
- Low employability of graduates
According to Times Higher Education, India has not one university in the global top 50 despite having the third-largest HE system in the world. Meanwhile, the OECD’s Secretariat’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently ranked India 72 out of 73 countries (based on 500,000 15-year-old students taking the test).
Suffice it to say that India has a long way to go before it can offer not only capacity, but also sufficient quality, to its university-aged students. This suggests that:
- Demand for study abroad among Indian students will remain strong as they search for HE institutions that can give them the accreditation and education they require
- There are opportunities for institutions and organisations wishing to partner with Indian HE institutions in terms of joint programmes or capacity/quality-building initiatives
It bears noting that while the global assessments and rankings of Indian universities and student ability paint Indian education in a grim light, the reality is not so simple. Usree Bhattacharya, an Indian-born PhD candidate in an American university argues in The Times of India that “the Indian context is so complex, so multi-dimensional, that trying to understand its depth merely through a numbered tale is not just silly, but detrimental to our ability to work on fixing what’s wrong.”
There are of course excellent Indian institutions offering quality education right now; the challenge for the country’s, and the world’s, educators is to bring still more of the education system to a higher standard for this pivotal world market.