Crisis In Indian University - UPSC Current Affairs

Crisis In Indian University

Upgrade your UPSC CSE preparation with our Daily dose of Current Affairs. In today’s edition, we will discuss Crisis In Indian University. Check the topic’s relevance from the UPSC CSE point of view.

For Prelims: National Institution Ranking Framework, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

For Mains: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Also read about the Lancet Report on Pollution and Health,a crucial topic from the UPSC exam preparation point of view.

Why in the News?

Spending on higher education (as a % of government expenditure) has stagnated at 1.3-1.5% since 2012.

Probable Question

Discuss the various problems plaguing India’s higher education and highlights the need for major reforms in India’s higher education.

Key Points

  • The Ministry of Education continues to push higher education institutions to increase their intake capacity by 25% (in a push to implement the 10% quota for economically weaker sections).
  • The Ministry of Finance has sought to ban the creation of new teaching posts.
  • At the central level, student financial aid was cut to ₹2,078 crore in FY 2022-23 from ₹2,482 crore in FY 2021-22; allocations for research and innovation were down by 8%, reaching ₹218 crore.

Challenges in Indian Universities

Cash-strapped institutions

  • Investments in university infrastructure have shrunk. Most Indian universities and colleges have overcrowded classrooms, poor ventilation and sanitation, and unsatisfactory hostel accommodation.
  • The Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), which provides funding for all infrastructure loans to institutions, saw its budget reduced from ₹2,000 crore in FY 20-21 to ₹1 crore in FY 21-22.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) was allocated ₹4,900 crore in FY 2022-23 versus ₹4,693 in FY 2021-22, but stifled cash flow has led to delays in salary payments for deemed/central universities.
  • Hence, most universities are running on a deficit.
  • Madras University saw an accumulated deficit of over ₹100 crore, forcing it to seek a ₹88 crore grant from the State government.
  • This has led to cuts in discretionary spending – many colleges in Delhi are unable to afford subscriptions to basic databases and journals.

 Research Grants

  • Research Grants under the UGC’s minor and major research project schemes have declined from ₹42.7 crore in FY 2016-17 to ₹38 lakh in FY 2020-21. 
  • India has over 1,040 universities, but just 2.7% offer PhD programmes, given paltry funding and poor infrastructure. 
  • The National Research Foundation (NRF), to improve research infrastructure in universities, has not yet been approved, and may have a limited budget ($5-6 billion spread over five years).
  • Fall in standards
    • Academic standards and processes are not being maintained.
  • Examination paper leaks have become common – the Hindi examination of the National Eligibility Test of the UGC, which enables post-graduate students who pass to teach in State and Central colleges, was leaked in June 2021.

Role of universities in strengthening democracy and civil society: Universities have played a crucial role in strengthening democracy and civil society. For instance:

  • The Central Hindu College (Delhi), inaugurated by Madan Mohan Malaviya, was a centre for political debate during the freedom struggle, with students and teachers joining the Quit India movement, and involved in the defence of Rash Behari Bose and Lala Har Dayal in 1915.
  • And yet, of late, institutional apathy has given way to repression

Way Forward

  • We need to embrace tolerance for a diversity of views in our campuses and our students have formative experiences there and must have the space to define themselves as individuals. 
  • Funding for research needs to rise significantly, with institutions like the NRF supplementing (and not replacing) existing schemes (including those from the Ministry of Science). 
    • Funding should also be allocated to enable course-based research experiences for undergraduates.
  • Universities can also be freed up to utilize other revenue streams such as start-up royalties and advertising.

Also watch:

UGC rules for tie-ups between Indian and foreign , the University Grants Commission (UGC) has simplified the procedure for an Indian higher education institution to offer programmes in collaboration with foreign universities.

Criteria to collaborate with the Foreign University:

Indian higher education institution that has a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grading of 3.01 or above,
or
Among the top 1,000 QS World University or Times Higher Education rankings,
or
Among the top 100 universities under National Institution Ranking Framework.

Under the new regulations, universities and colleges will no longer be required to seek permission from UGC, if they met the ranking criteria.

Under the 2016 regulations, a foreign and Indian college or university could partner with each other to offer only “twinning” and “joint degree” programmes where Indian students received a degree only from an Indian institute along with a certificate from the foreign institute.

But now, they can offer a third type of programme, that is, a “dual degree” programme, where both the institutes will issue a degree.

These collaborations will be permitted only for the conventional mode of learning and not for distance or online learning.

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