The regulator for higher education in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has released draft regulations to allow foreign universities to establish campuses in India.
30th Jan 2023
The Hindu (30-Jan-23)
The Indian university is in a free fall
- The regulator for higher education in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has released draft regulations to allow foreign universities to establish campuses in India.
- Why would the government invite universities from overseas to open campuses in India?
- A sense of competitiveness with international universities of repute would unquestionably retard the free fall of our universities. But there is one fear.
- The new initiative could make India thenew global education destination, but it could also further worsen the problem.
- Outstanding teachers may seek positions in the various branches of the foreign universities. And we could be left with mediocrity, which lead to would further decline.
- The University Grants Commission must take cognisance of the possibility of such fallout. To the dismay of many, there is no desire or exercise to find some mechanisms to retard the socioacademic decline of the university.
Abysmal budgetary allocation
- Before this debacle becomes a reality, let us examine what ailsour universities. The abyss between the public intellectual and the stubborn establishment stands wider than ever.
- Universities are sliding towards selfdeluding and bureaucratised governing bodies that lack the ability to handle views alternative to the retrogressive decisions of the academic leadership that has lurched to the Right.
- To say that India is the third largest economy is of no value when it has miserably failed to give its citizens a world-class university system. The budgetary allocation for education is abysmal.
Valorisation of mediocrity
- The point that is often blatantly overlooked by governing bodies of universities is the crucial importance of an academic environment with the understanding of new pedagogical practices.
- The present state of affairs exposes the valorisation of mediocrity that has resulted in belittling those who accomplish their responsibility with impartiality and have the requisite credentials and talent.
- This is inkeeping with the current practice of sidelining many distinguished academics and vice chancellors and instead making appointments arbitrarily on the basis of ideological allegiances.
- It is, indeed, a mockery to be subjected to the arrogance and incompetence of a handful of pushovers who conduct the course of higher education not inthe interest of rigorous culture of learning and teaching, but for the mere award of coveted positions.
- Governing bodies that have worked efficaciously over the years are being sabotaged by an ideological belief. They are unmindful of the structure rotting at the core, especially with the insouciant acceptance of mediocrity as the norm. Inviolable traditions get bludgeoned to submission, if not annihilation.
- Until this stops, our institutions of higher learning will remain absent from world rankings.
Hub of poverty of knowledge
- Our universities have become deeply sclerotic. Spouses of civil servants find easy entrée touniversity positions.
- I once mentioned the name of F.R.Leavis, one of the most prominent critics of the last century, during a discussion. A colleague asked who he was. As a joke, I told her that Iwas speaking of the captain of the English cricket team. She believed it and still remains blissfully ignorant.
- Most universities abound with such poverty of knowledge.
- The free fall of universities in thehands of such teachers results from the infraction of the basic structure of the university constitution. There are procedurally regularities.
- The indifference of the establishment resonates with the political leadership, which is oblivious of the requirements of building an empowering milieu and an affirmative academic outlook. Instead, we have a disposition that internalises sluggishness, lack of work ethic and ineptitude.
- Selection committees constituted by university heads find the same faculty members repeated as experts or vice chancellors nominees, thereby ignoring far more qualified and much senior teachers. Systems that suggest less than honourable intent are permitted to flourish with the patronage of the powers that be.
- It is disenchanting to note thatthe teaching fraternity chooses to remain silent on significant issues on which depends the stature of academic excellence.
- The university’s adversarial approach to principles of seniority andmerit threatens the stability andacademic reputation of not Only the University, but also the furtherance of ethical practices.
Reform is necessary
- Reform is always welcome and necessary, but destroying age-old and tested institutional practices deeply wedded to democratic traditions is retrogressive.
- Ubiquitous discrimination strikes a blow at the very core of academic culture where the teaching community is directed to submit to governing bodies, which in turn are answerable to an overbearing patron seemingly lacking a broad progressive policy that encourages debate and disagreement.
- The conflict apparently is between viewing auniversity as a seat of diversity and learning and a seat of conformity and indoctrination.
- Such a regressive milieu deepens the sense of distrust. In the present quandary there are few signs of initiating a level playing field or even a public debate on the decline of the university. In such a state of affairs, conscious academics can atleast highlight the depth of the rot.
30th Jan 2023
The Hindu (30-Jan-23)
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