Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Need for re-orientation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- Improving the standard and status of State universities and problems faced by them?


State universities will have to deliver more to the State where they are located

Status of the state universities in India

  • Significance of state universities: Out of about a thousand higher education institutions (HEIs) that are authorised to award degrees in India, about 400 are state public universities.
    • These state universities produce over 90% of our graduates (including those from the colleges affiliated to them) and contribute to about one-third of the research publications from this country.
  • Poor quality: That their quality and performance is poor in most cases is accepted as a given today.
    • It is evidenced by their poor performance in institutional rankings,
    • the poor employment status of their students,
    • rather poor quality of their publications,
    • negligible presence in national-level policy/decision-making bodies,
    • poor track record in receiving national awards and recognition, poor share in research funding and so on.
  • Stated reasons for poor performance– Commonly stated reasons for these observations include government/political interference in the management of the university, lack of autonomy, poor governance structures, corruption, poor quality of teachers, outdated curricula, plagiarism, poor infrastructure and facilities, overcrowding, evils of the “affiliation” system and poor linkages with alumni and industry.
    • Symptoms of the problem: While many of these observations are no doubt valid, they appear to be only the symptoms and consequences of some deeper malaise and not the underlying cause.

Core causative factors for the poor state of state universities

  • Lack of support: State universities are not supported the way Central universities are supported by the Central government as well as given patronage by the section of society.
    • It is as though State-level players do not have much stake in the stability and performance of the State university system.
    • What could be the reason for lack of support? One reason why State-level players do not feel compelled to back the State university system more strongly could be that the latter does not commit itself to anything that may be of particular interest and value to the State where the university is located.
  • What could be the solution? In order to receive much more funding and support from the State system then, State universities would have to commit to delivering lots more to the State and its people where they are located.
    • New vision and programmes: They must come up with a new vision and programmes specifically addressing the needs of the State, its industry, economy and society, and on the basis of it make the State-level players commit to providing full ownership and support to them.


The initiative to start a larger dialogue on the future of our State universities would have to be taken primarily by the academic community of these institutions.

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