‘Education policy needs structural changes’

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Increasing enrollment requires more institutions with quality faculty and infrastructure, says Prof. P P Mathur, Vice Chancellor, Kalinga University. In conversation with Elets News Network, he says India needs structural and operational changes in the education policy

Prof. P P MathurWhat are the challenge areas you see in revamping Indian higher education in general and in your state?

Currently, higher education system needs to be reviewed seriously in terms of excellence, equity and expansion. At this time, the country is experiencing explosive growth of involvement in higher education as around 35 per cent of the population is in the age group of 15 to 35. In this context, the country faces an increased demand for specialised human resource. In order to accommodate such an increased demand, providing quality education to a large population is a great challenge. Some of the related issues are lack of availability of quality faculty and infrastructure, outdated teaching curriculum and scarcity of financial and other resources. Increasing employment opportunities for the students and creating more avenues through skill-based and value-added training are also required.

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What are the new initiatives which you have taken as the Vice Chancellor? Can you suggest if any of them can be implemented at pan-India level?

We have started new initiatives like the involvement of industrial linkages, periodical revision of syllabi, and skill development which have prepared the students to face the current challenges. We have inducted a large number of experts from industry in our academic bodies and have ongoing joint teaching and research programmes.

There have been suggestions that India needs to increase the gross enrollment ratio from 18 per cent to more than 30 per cent. How do you see it?

At this time, we require many more institutions with quality faculty and infrastructure. The country needs substantial higher investment in education and effect structural and operational changes in the education policy. We need to use disruptive processes to achieve it. The country needs more checks and balances in the form of accreditation agencies. Vocational courses, innovation and continuous learning centres need to be promoted. The new education policy should address the question of delivery of quality education to the masses which can only be done by incentivising teachers, providing education through MOOCs and social media.

Poor faculty and lack of teachers seem to mar Indian education at the primary, secondary and higher levels. How do you plan to address this challenge at your university?

The quality of faculty is very im portant for the delivery of quality education in any educational institution. We have been providing faculty development programmes and incentives for higher learning and research activities to our faculty. We are constantly trying to recruit best faculty available and has mechanism of 360 degree feedback. The University is also planning performance based incentives. The performance of teachers has significantly improved after we brought in accountability in the system.

There is a concerted push from the government towards ‘Digital India’. Are educational institutes geared up to take it on?

The country needs to have much more digital penetration in the education system. However, many of the institutions have severe challenges for making it happen. KIIT University is one of a few universities to have computer and Wi-Fi availability to all students and teachers. Learning resources are also available online.

Innovation and research by universities drive industries and economic growth in may Southeast Asian economies. How is your university engaging industries?

KIIT University, in all the areas of instruction, involves industrial participation in various forms. The university has several Centers of Excellence established by various companies in the campus. In addition, industry sponsored seminars, conferences and workshops are regularly conducted. Many industries are being encouraged to suggest training modules for our course curriculum and many members of the faculty have collaborative industry projects. The university also has a Business Incubator, a strong IPR Policy and a Students’ Research Center where several innovations have been done. n

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