Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Reform lessons for education


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Skill education in India

The article deals with state of the education and its relation with employment in India.

Improving higher education system

  • Improving India’s higher education justice and worker productivity needs the broadening of our education ambition.
  • Our focus on Gross Enrollment Ratio should also be anchored to Employed Learner Ratio -proportion of our 55 crore labour force in formal learning.
  • For enrolling five crore new employed learners, India needs five regulatory changes.

Reflecting on global and domestic education experience

  • Multi-decade structural changes include  organisations that are less hierarchical, lower longevity, shorter employee tenures, higher competition.
  • There is also change in the form of work: capitalism without capital, soft skills valued more than hard skills, 30 per cent working from home etc.
  • There change in the form of education in which Google knows everything, so tacit knowledge is more valuable than codified or embedded knowledge.
  • These shifts are complicated by a new world of politics, third-party financing viability, and fee inflation.

India faces financing failure in skill

  • We have 3.8 crore students in 1,000-plus universities and 50,000-plus colleges.
  • We confront a financing failure in skills:
  • Employers are not willing to pay for training of candidates but a premium for trained candidates.
  • Candidates are not willing to pay for training but for jobs.
  • Financiers are unwilling to lend unless a job is guaranteed, and training institutions can’t fill their classrooms.

Steps need to be taken

  • For many people the income support of learning-while-earning is crucial to raising enrollment.
  • Many students lack employability and workers lack productivity because learning is supply-driven.
  • Learning-by-doing ensures demand-driven learning.
  • The de facto ban on online degree learning with only seven of our 1,000-plus universities licensed for online offerings.
  • That needs to be changed.
  • High regulatory hurdles creates an adverse selection among entrepreneurs running educational institutions.

Five regulatory changes

  • First, modify Part 3 of the UGC Act 1956 and Part 8 of the UGC Act to include skill universities.
  • Second, remove clauses 3(A), 3(B), and clause 5 of UGC ODL and Online Regulations 2020 and replace them with a blanket and automatic approval for all accredited universities to design, develop and deliver their online programmes.
  • Third, modify clause 4(C)(ii) of UGC online regulations 2020 to allow innovation, flexibility, and relevance in an online curriculum as prescribed in Annex 1-(V)-3-i) that allows universities to work closely with industry on their list of courses.
  • Fourth, modify clauses 13(C)(3), 13(C)(5), 13(C)(7), 18(2) of UGC online regulations 2020 to permit universities to create partner ecosystems for world-class online learning services, platforms, and experience.
  • Fifth, introduce Universities in clause 2 of the Apprentices Act 1961 to enable all accredited universities to introduce, administer and scale all aspects of degree apprenticeship programs.
  • These five changes would enable enrolling five crore incremental employed learner.


Reforming education requires thinking horizontally, holistically, and imaginatively. The reforms suggested here should be carried out considering these aspects.

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