President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at the 90th convocation ceremony of University of Delhi (DU) raised concerns over shortage of faculty and low standards of instruction in Indian higher education. In Central Universities, close to 51 per cent of academic posts are lying vacant. While we take urgent steps to fill the vacancies, new ways of employing technology-based learning and collaborative information and communication sharing should be evolved.
President emphasizing upon the need to promote distance education said, “Open and Distance Learning can aid in enhancing the reach of higher education. The enrolment in such programme in our country increased from 27 lakh to 42 lakh during the Eleventh Plan period. The time is now ripe to deploy innovative technologies for greater coverage and for improvising modules that can enable better learning.”
Today, India is facing both the quality and quantity shortage of faculties; this is basically because of the large number of unfilled vacancies in college and universities. As per the faculty shortage prevails in different academic disciplines, the number of posts is administered by higher authority and these numbers are generally fixed. The positions do not exactly reflect the actual demand for faculties as it is the decision of higher authority. It also depends on some trends like income and employment aspirations which can change due to time.
If we look upon broader aspect, some qualified persons are not interested in education field as the incentive structure is less as compared to other profession. And also the salary structure is unattractive and there are some other aspect which constraints the professionals i.e. the status of a Faculty is not as high as it used to be in earlier years. Some potential teachers are discouraged with the present working conditions like new courses are started and no proper training availability for the teachers.
Because of this, some institutes have an inclination towards the part time and ad hoc teachers in state universities and deemed universities. This is due to the problems faced by some institutions in recruitment of full time faculty and maintaining the faculty resource requirements is also a challenge. Due to this, institutions are recruiting short term faculty from overseas by extending the age of mandatory retirement but this is also difficult to manage due to the impact of salary increases. As it is true for some government funded institutions because of fund constrained and that’s why there is a lack of effective faculty due to both demand and supply side dimensions.
To make education accessible to more students, we must bring education more closely to those remote areas where more population is illiterate and this could remove the imbalance spread across the country.
There is a need to introduce performance based pay, promotion and tenure for faculties, and also scholarly activities by faculties beyond curriculum, which can help in setting up a higher ranking, as we are way behind.
If we are to redefine the way education is imparted by our educational institutions, the time is now. According to an international ranking of universities, no Indian university finds a place amongst the global top 200 universities. “This you would agree is simply unacceptable. We must develop our universities into global leaders, and for that, the best practices in other countries should be carefully studied and adopted with necessary changes to suit our conditions,” said by the President.
The acute scarcity of teaching talent is attacking the very foundations of academia in the country. Solutions need to be quickly identifies to keep alive India’s ambition of becoming a knowledgeable country.
Contributed by Nandita Mishra (Batch 2013, IBS Hyderabad)