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Do we need Harvard or Hard Work?

Now-a-days it is very frequently observed that students sign up for higher studies with less interest or take it casually. Moreover, there are very few institutions in India which are giving quality inputs so as to inculcate the learning skills amongst students.

Higher Education System in India compare to developing / developed countries needs substantial improvement. The percentage of students taking higher education is hardly about 13 % whereas the same is varying between 28 to 90 %, across the world. The lowest % being 28 % and the same is as high as 90 % in developed countries.


At one end, we claim that India would rank 3rd among all countries by 2020 in education. If we observe overall ranking of relevant institutions it is seen that in the year 2000, out of 500 there were 2 Indian Universities / Institutes were featured in the list, and 1 institution from China.

Now almost after a decade in 2010 the tables have changed with only 1 institution from India being featured and 32 institutions are featured from China!!

It categorically spells out, how much we are lagging behind in terms of overall % of higher educational institutions, number of students pursuing higher education. We are not only beaten in by the developing and developed countries in terms of GDP, Exchange of foreign currency but also in terms of number of students pursuing higher education.

The key to harnessing India’s demographic dividend is education. Indian higher education currently the third largest in the world, is likely to surpass the US in the next five years and China in the next 15 years to be the largest system of higher education in the world. Indian higher education has a complex structure riddled with many contradictions, still has great possibilities.

By 2030, India will be amongst the youngest nations in the world. With nearly 140 million people in the college-going age group, one in every four graduates in the world will be a product of the Indian education system. Higher education in India has recorded impressive growth since Independence. University Grants Commission (UGC), by designing programmes and implementing various schemes through academic, administrative and financial support, has contributed in the growth and development of Indian higher education. In the changing landscape, entrance of private universities is a game changer. Many new institutions of medicine, science, technology and others have been introduced. We have gross enrolment ratio of about 17.9% now, while an ambitious target of 25.2% has been envisaged by the end of 12th Plan.

With many state universities in bad condition, the gap is being filled by several private universities. It is important to ensure that these universities have adequate faculty, research facilities, relevant curriculum and adequate infrastructure among others. There is an immediate need to transform the whole system of higher education in India. Academic quality is of paramount importance. In order to have good quality academic institutions, we should follow the best practices in accreditation and assessment. Currently, only a handful of Institutions in India are accredited by NAAC and NBA.

A major concern for India is creation of employable workforce to harness our demographic dividend. According to Industry reports supported by NASSCOM, only 25% of technical graduates and about 15% of other graduates are considered employable by IT/ITES industry. Another survey conducted on 800 MBA students across different cities in India revealed that only 23% of them were considered employable. Hence, there is an immediate need for a holistic and symbiotic association between industry and academia to make employable graduates. There is also an immediate need for moving from ‘generic model’ of education to a ‘learner-centred’ model of education. The students should be mentored to make their careers in the areas of their strength and abilities.


Currently, there are lots of issues regarding governance and autonomy of such educational institutions, which create major road blocks in performance and require urgent attention. There are several legal and regulatory hurdles to create quality institutions in India. For example, ISB Hyderabad is the only B-School from India which features in Top-20 in Financial Times list, but it cannot grant a recognized MBA degree due to legal and regulatory constraints. There is an immediate need for transforming governance and leadership in higher education Institutions.











Majority of colleges are smaller in terms of enrolment. 22% of the Colleges are having enrolment less than 100 and 42% of the colleges have student strength 100 to 500 which means 64% of the colleges enrol less than 500 students. Only 4% Colleges have enrolment more than 3000.



Gender distribution

Brain Drain

Among Asian countries, India continues its trend of being the top country of birth for immigrant scientists and engineers to the US, says a latest report, adding that with 950,000 out of Asia’s total 2.96 million, India’s 2013 figure represented an 85 percent increase from 2003.


Overall, the number of immigrant scientists and engineers in the US has risen to 18 per cent from an earlier 16 per cent and 57 per cent of those were born in Asia.

From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the US rose from 21.6 million to 29 million.

This 10-year increase included significant growth in the number of immigrant scientists and engineers, from 3.4 million to 5.2 million, said the report from the National Science Foundation’s National Centre for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

The most common fields of study for immigrant scientist and engineers in 2013 were engineering, computer and mathematical sciences and social and related sciences.

Over 80 per cent of immigrant scientists and engineers were employed in 2013, the same percentage as their US-born counterparts.


Among the immigrants in the science and engineering workforce, the largest share (18 per cent) worked in computer and mathematical sciences, while the second-largest share (eight per cent) worked in engineering.


Three occupations — life scientist, computer and mathematics scientist and social and related scientist — saw substantial immigrant employment growth from 2003 to 2013. From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the US grew from 21.6 million to 29 million. An important factor in this growth has been immigration. In 2013, 18% (5.2 million) of the scientists and engineers residing in the United States were immigrants whereas in 2003, 16% (3.4 million) were immigrants.




Mass Cheating in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

Bihar – and its northern neighbour Uttar Pradesh- are no strangers to controversies related to education and testing. Academic dishonesty is a problem in both states despite the fact that it has been widely and recurrently reported in the media, and discussed by both governing bodies and the state judiciary.

In March, it was reported that over 70 students and teachers in Mathura , UP, were written up for cheating during the Class 10 and Class 12 exams. Parents and relatives had been seen climbing walls during tests to hand student chits containing answers, and a local alleged that students paid an organized local network to help them cheat. A similar incident occurred in Manhar, in Bihar’s Vaishali district in 2015.

In the recent past, both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have announced anti-cheating measures – including coded-answer sheets, video surveillance, and fines.

In March 2015, the Patna High Court directed police officials to take steps to curb cheating during exams, and create a list of invigilators who enabled foul play.

In December 2015, Uttar Pradesh’s Board of High School and Intermediate Education (Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad) announced that in 2016, students in 31 “sensitive” districts – compared to 11 in 2015 – would use coded answer-sheets, a report said. It is worth noting that almost 2,000 cases of cheating were reported in the districts that used coded sheets in 2014.

This year, a report stated that more than half of the 15.47 lakh students who took the Class 10 exams in Bihar failed. Less than a fourth of test-takers failed this exam in 2015, and the strict anti-cheating measures in place in this year are thought to have caused the abrupt decline in the number of successful candidates.


  • To reduce cheating, Use multiple versions of the exam, so that no one is seated next to, in front of, or behind a student writing the same version. With everyone in the room writing the same exam, four versions are needed. For example, use versions 1 and 2 alternating on odd rows and versions 3 and 4 alternating on even rows. Four versions can be generated by scrambling the order of questions and/or answers.
  • University policy stipulates that at least two versions of multiple-choice examinations are required for midterm and final examinations. Four versions of multiple-choice examinations are recommended for large courses (200+ students) and where it is not possible to seat students in alternate rows.
  • Students should return their answer sheet or exam booklet with the exam paper, so that you can check that they have entered the appropriate version number. Doing this is much easier if the versions are color coded and, therefore, easily sorted.
  • Use randomized assigned seating for midterms.
    Many classrooms have labelled seating; this makes it easier to assign students to random seating. The procedure is easy to implement by posting students’ IDs and assigned seats outside the classroom shortly before the exam or possibly displaying them on the overhead projector as students enter the classroom.
  • Another approach is to hand out tickets with seat numbers as students enter the room. Students seated next to strangers are less likely to cheat. Once students are seated, the invigilators use copies of the plan to verify that students are in their assigned seats.


  • To achieve Gross enrollment ratio as envisaged in our 12th Plan and harness our demographic dividend, it is important to allow not-for-profit institutes to bring large-scale investments from Indian promoters and global educational institutes as has been done in the Healthcare sector. This step can truly transform the Education sector and India can become the knowledge capital of the world.


  • Innovation should be at the forefront of all education. An education not driven by innovation is bereft of PURPOSE and will function like a headless chicken. Students must be made aware of the limits of existing knowledge and state of art in their field very early in their programs so that students can ponder ways of advancing these limits while they pursue their education. The pursuit of how these limits can be advanced should be the basis of all research


  • Over and above, institutions must also concentrate on giving awayquality inputs to the students. Institutions must look into constantly updating the syllabus in order to help students adapt with the changing market scenario. To start with they can look at making education liberal, introduce new practices & applied research work; updating the course curriculum frequently.
  • Curriculum should also include sports, hobby classes, vocational skills development program, employability enhancement & soft skills development programs, entrepreneurship development modules, specialization wise clubs and committees of students, practical assignments related to their field, industry interface related modules such as internships and industry visits.
  • Special emphasis must be given to communication and presentation skills, especially for students coming from rural background / remote locations and that for student’s studies in vernacular languages., so that they can perform well in the corporate world, across the globe.
  • Institutions should also inculcate multitasking abilities amongst students, foreign languages, advanced IT knowledge so that they can perform better in the chosen field. Student exchange, cultural exchange should be encouraged and various ways and means should be found to enhance students’ interest level & participation.


ABHISHEK RANJAN is a researcher and policy analyst working with Member of Parliament, Arunachal East. He was earlier a LAMP Fellow. He has deep interests in music, football, handwriting analysis & blogging and holds Instrumentation and Control Engineering degree from Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal.








Abhishek Ranjan

ABHISHEK RANJAN is a researcher and policy analyst working with Member of Parliament, Arunachal East. He was earlier a LAMP Fellow. He has deep interests in music, football, handwriting analysis & blogging and holds Instrumentation and Control Engineering degree from Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal.

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