The flip side to the Indian education story, much lauded for increasing accessibility to its citizens, is the abysmal research activities conducted by institutions of higher learning. Despite acknowledgement by all those who matter that research work must be nurtured, not much has happened. This is reflected in the fact that not even one per cent of students pursuing higher studies opt for research-oriented courses, a fact that was revealed by the Union Government in a written answer to the Rajya Sabha in August. “India faces a huge challenge of striking a balance between access and quality. Given the focus of policy-making on access, the quality of higher education has suffered. The research infrastructure in India lags,” says Rahul Choudaha, Director of Research and Strategic Development World Education Services, New York.
State of play
India possesses a highly developed higher education system, which offers the facility of education and training in almost all aspects of human creativity and intellectual endeavours like arts and humanities; natural, mathematical and social sciences; engineering; medicine; dentistry; agriculture; education; law; commerce and management; music and performing arts; national and foreign languages; culture; communications, etc. Under the Central government, there are 45 technical institutes, 13 management institutes, four information technology institutes, six science and research institutes and three planning and architecture institutes. The Planning Commission in its approach paper to 12th Five-Year Plan had suggested that the current “not-for-profit” approach in the education sector should be re-examined in a pragmatic manner so as to ensure quality without losing focus on equity.
Madhav G Deo, vice president and secretary, Moving Academy of Medicine and Biomedicine (MAMB), states, “Even six decades after independence, medical research, which is the mother of new knowledge, has remained a non-issue. If India were to emerge as a global leader, the emphasis must shift from ‘importing’ knowledge to indigenous generation of new knowledge. This cannot be done without developing research-oriented educational programmes both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.”
The unacceptably low level of R&D surely has a correlation with India’s poor share of the global manufacturing and trade pie. Quoting a recent report, which revealed that $1.4 trillion were spent globally on R&D, Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for HRD, said that of this, India’s contribution was only 2.1 per cent compared to 33 per cent by the US and over 12.6 per cent by China.
Need for competitive research
Some institutions of India, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management, National Institutes of Technology and Jawaharlal Nehru University have been globally acclaimed for their standard of education. The IITs enroll about 8,000 students annually and the alumni have contributed to both the growth of the private and public sectors of India.
However, India still lacks universities that are on par with internationally prestigious varsities like the Ivy Leagues, Cambridge, and Oxford. Also, no Indian university figures in the list of top 200 universities of the world. Prof BN Raghunandan, dean of engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, says, “While ranking universities globally, 30 per cent weightage is given to research and another 30 per cent is given to citations.”
Competitive allocation of funding would translate into a successful model for research agencies and ministries, he argues. “First and foremost, it allowed targeting of research funding to objectives. Another was that since peer review was the usual mode of evaluation, focus on competitive allocation should lead to improved performance.”
Mahua Das Sadhale, an Indian postdoc researcher in international health and based in the UK, says, “In India, there is little recognition for novel ideas and themes, lack of schools which accept challenging ideas, lack of research funding as well as the notion that research cannot be profitable like that of teaching, especially, in the case of social sciences where we call ourselves worthy orphans.”
No PhD factories here
Choudaha reasons, “Today, Indian students have few options to pursue a career in research. This indicates a deficiency on the part of the policy framework which has not created enough incentives and recognition for institutions to provide research-oriented courses and at the same time, it has missed to create an ecosystem of research talent.”
Krithika Gokulnath, a PhD student in biophysics, University of Madras, adds, “Students, who are at the core of the academic system, are completely ignored. How long can a research model, which forces students to live on meagre stipend, survive? Despite years of research, many researchers, especially men, are compelled to join the industry. On top of it, scholars are given monthly scholarships of `35,000 and 50,000, for science and engineering courses, respectively. But every time a scholar intends to avail the amount, he/she has to carry out a time-consuming and cumbersome process.”
The Indian Government spends much of the funds allotted to education on primary and secondary education with the hope that self-motivation and industrial demands would pull researchers into critical zones. The aggregate domestic research and development (R&D) spending has never exceeded one per cent of GDP.
Besides, about 75-80 per cent of India’s R&D spending comes from public enterprises, while in OECD countries, more than 75 per cent comes from private enterprises. India also fares very low in the ratio of researchers to the total population: It has 120 people employed in R&D per million of the population when compared to 633 for China. “We need to spend at least two per cent of GDP on research to become a knowledge-driven society. We are around 0.5 per cent now. Around 60 lakh students graduate annually. Assuming five per cent indulge in some research, it adds up to 300,000 a year with some research experience,” says Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education. “If one in five pursues full-time careers in research, we will have 60,000 postdocs a year in India.”
Industry is rarely seen as a significant employer of PhDs. Maybe the cry for more PhDs must be muted, while facts are gathered and interpreted. Prof Raghunandan says, “PhD projects should be financed jointly by interested private companies as well as research organisations, and the companies have a vested interest to receive not only the direct results from the research, but also trained individuals that can integrate the research outcomes into their product development or manufacturing process.”
The higher education sector, owing to its huge potential, is promising. With an estimated 150 million people in the age group of 18-23 years, the sector offers one of the most attractive yet highly complex markets for private/foreign players. “India today has 560 million young people under the age of 25 and 225 million between the ages of 10 and 19,” explains Tharoor. “So for the next 40 years we should have a youthful working-age population” at a time when China and the broad industrialised world is ageing. The average age in China today is around 38, whereas in India it’s around 28. In 20 years, that gap will be much larger. “This could be a huge demographic dividend, provided we can educate our youth offering vocational training to some and university to others to equip them to take advantage of what the 21st-century global economy offers,” says Tharoor. “If we get it right, India becomes the workhorse of the world. If we get it wrong, there is nothing worse than unemployable and frustrated youth.”
Turning ideas into reality
India has established its strengths in Information Technology (IT), IT Enabled Services and Business Process Outsourcing sectors for a while now. Multinational corporations and home-grown companies are setting up R&D centres in the country hoping to tap into the vast workforce of India, which is committed to making their own lives better and contributing to a better tomorrow. “Already, companies like GE, Philips and IBM have more researchers in India than in their parent countries. Our R&D enterprises are now ambitiously moving towards fields such as IT, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology while keeping a strong hold on traditional spheres like Ayurveda,” says Tharoor. “However, other sectors also need to catch up. Since India’s universities are teaching institutions where little research is done, and research is done in small institutions where there is very little teaching, India is at an obvious disadvantage in the global university rankings. This must change. The Government plans to finance research clusters across the country.”
In 2012, the Union HRD ministry introduced in the Parliament the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, which seeks to allow the government to set up 14 universities for research and innovation. They could be set up privately, or funded publicly or created through a public-private partnership. These institutions will be of national importance with the objective of achieving excellence in knowledge while building links between the academia and industry and conduct research on issues hampering the society at large. It is yet to be passed.
The process of incubating products up to the stage of a venture would need nurturing. A major global challenge is how to identify and nurture creative or out-of-the-box thinkers. “I agree with your concern that hardly anyone wants to take up a research career. But this is a global phenomenon. Even 1 per cent for India would mean about 3 million students. If we nurture them, this is a huge number. The Academy has developed a cheap model to identify science talent,” says Deo. Through the programme, ‘Discovering little scientists’, MAMB exposes school children to research culture at a very young age.
Indeed, current researchers have the responsibility to mentor and support aspiring researchers to navigate the constraints of a research career. “With the availability of internet and free online courses, students interested in research have information at their fingertips and they can actively network with researchers from around the world,” Choudaha reasons. Pai believes, “The teaching load needs to be reduced and pedagogy should change to include more project-based work rather than the current system of lectures and notes.”
All’s not lost
With the huge expansion of tertiary education sector, PhD scholars can look at rewarding academic and research-oriented careers. Moreover, there are numerous opportunities to publish their research papers and also write for newspapers and journals. “Domain knowledge of a specific field in science and technology, business, finance, economics, geography, political science, history, public administration, international relations, sociology, education and psychology can lead to work opportunities with consultants, government departments, industrial houses, multinationals and NGOs,” says Amrita Dass, founder-director of Institute for Career Studies, New Delhi.
Bob Hayes, Opinion Editor
February 10, 2015 •
To briefly sum up my 18 months at Northwestern, my college experience has been thoroughly enjoyable and outstandingly valuable to my personal development. I have learned a lot about myself, my relationships, my skills, what I like to do and, quite simply, how life works. Ironically, the only place I feel has been somewhat insufficient in my educational process has been in the classroom, a problem I see rooted in the general collegiate education system — not just at NU.
I have spent some time pondering why I believe I learned more in the classrooms of nearby New Trier High School than I have during my time in Evanston. How does it make sense that I learned more at a public high school than I have at the elite college for which my family pays more than $65,000 per year?
Interestingly, my most influential class at NU so far — my Spring Quarter freshman seminar on “The Goal of Higher Education” — taught me the faults of how we are taught and how higher education is grounded in many preoccupations beyond actual learning. Many people will undoubtedly disagree with my original premise, but everyone can see room for improvement in our educational process.
The initial issue comes down to the philosophy of teaching. Universities pressure faculty members to devote their time to researching and writing publications rather than connecting with students. Even the terminology shows how the teaching method changes once college begins. Teachers become professors. Each term invokes distinctly different images. Teachers spend time with students and focus on legitimately teaching — transferring knowledge and skills to students. Professors stand at the front of a large lecture hall filled with nameless students and pontificate about what they are currently researching, to the detriment of their students’ learning.
Yes, collegiate education stresses individual learning, but is the current level of that emphasis the proper level? Schools often make the excuse that professors simply do not have time to pay attention to each student because they are busy with out-of-the-classroom academic activities. Colleges across the nation must incentivize teaching over researching for students to gain a proper intellectual education. Currently, the focus on individual learning does more to sort out which students may already have the most skills than to teach students those skills.
Additionally, the entire collegiate course system is much more rigid than it is in high school. With the exception of Chinese and some economics courses, my classes have had minimal carry-over among quarters. I have little incentive to truly learn anything in, say, a required statistics course because the knowledge will never be necessary again. As soon as we finish a final exam, the course loses all relevancy in our minds because our future courses do not force us to recall that knowledge. In college, we are only as good as our last midterm and we only care about our next midterm.
A former English class — to this day the most challenging and most rewarding course I have ever taken — taught me that we should never try to relate to characters if we are to properly analyze literature. In a more recent English class, the first discussion topic is which character we relate to most. Although people surely have subjective takes on that debate, the inconsistency between the two teaching angles does not allow for much intellectual growth.
Thus, it is vital that colleges offer more continuity among courses, which administrators could address with a relatively simple change in the educational process. After a freshman year of essentially shopping different courses, schools can offer “course tracks,” with more fluidity among classes. Major “course tracks” would last three years, while minors would last one or two years, with each semester course building from the previous one. Modeled after foreign language courses, this continuity of learning is the best way to sustain knowledge because students will repeatedly recall prior information. Also like foreign language courses, immersion — a temporary internship or working with an expert in the field — could dramatically improve learning and enjoyment. One class slot each semester could be an elective slot, which students could use to take a class that intellectually challenges them but may not relate to their other courses of study.
The result of a “course track” system with more engaged teaching could dramatically increase student interest in classes while also ensuring a more sustainable system of education. While the onus of learning will always fall on the students, it is vital that university administrators consider what would best foster an environment of profound intellectual stimulation that allows us to grow into the best versions of ourselves.
Bob Hayes is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to email@example.com.
It’s been a little while since the launch of Instagram’s latest app back in August, and it seems the Hyperlapse hype has died down. But there’s still lots of potential for universities to make use of the app.
Whilst the app store downloads have declined since the initial launch, the video-creation app still presents a great opportunity for universities and education institutions to showcase their campus and facilities in new ways.
If you haven’t already experimented with the app, here’s what you need to know…
So what does it do?
Hyperlapse allows you to record a video on your iPhone*, and then speed it up by up to 12 times so you end up with something that looks like a stop motion film, but using video rather than images.
It’s also been built with image stabilisation built in, so the end result isn’t too shaky either. This does have a slight negative impact on the resolution of the video, but negligible for use on social media.
The other great thing is that you don’t have to post your video to the web once you’ve created – it doesn’t require another profile to manage, it’s just a content creation app so you can experiment privately and get the desired effect before posting on your existing social media channels.
Although the app was created by Facebook/Instagram, the hyperlapse videos can be posted anywhere online whether that’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo or any other online channels that you might be using.
So, how can it be used in HE marketing?
Ever fancied doing video campus tours but without the time, resource, budget or equipment? Hyperlapse allows you to do just that. It’s not exactly website-quality but it’s ideal for your social media channels. You can create short tours of key areas or buildings on campus – student accommodation, academic buildings, the University library, the Students’ Union. You just need an area with a bit of activity and footfall and a spare minute! And it engages alumni as well as current students as you will see in some of our examples below.
You’d be hard-pressed not to have noticed the surge in universities and other education providers using social media marketing. Indeed, social media has been a game-changer throughout higher education marketing in recent years, with marketers utilizing technology and social sites to interact more with the prospective student community and to improve student recruitment.
Outside of the Students Online: Global Trends 2014 report, the importance of higher education marketing through online resources has been well documented. The 2011 E-Expectations Report from Noel-Levitz found that one fifth of surveyed students said they would remove an institution from their list of choices due to a bad experience on that university’s website. This statistic is backed up by a number of others, including a survey for The Guardian which highlights the need for heavier spending on online resources rather than more traditional forms of education marketing such as email marketing and press advertising.
Read on to find out how prospective students are using online resources today, and how the use of social media for universities compares to other channels of education marketing.
Finland has an excellent reputation around the world for its outstanding educational system. The country always reaches the top 5 in international ranking such as the PISA study. One of the reasons for this success is the strong ongoing research in the field of pedagogy at Finnish universities.
In cooperation with Finnish university partners Skilltize makes Teacher Training from Finland available around the world.
Getting a job that pays well is a great way to improve your life. But if you want a career with a dreamy salary, you have to get the right degree first.
When you’re looking for a school program, how do you know which program and degree you need to make a living? It’s hard to figure out if the time and money you put into your education will pay off.
The good news is that any level of professional degrees can help you get a higher paying job as long as your education applies directly to the job you want.
This infographic shows the average pay of an employee with different levels of education, and also digs deeper, showing the potential starting salary for someone with degrees in various industries. When you know what you want to study, check out how much you could make after you attain your degree. When you decide on a career path, contact our Admission Consultants to get started on your path to a higher paying job!
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