Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Major Developments and Trends in the Higher Education System

India’s 16-rung leap in the recently released Global Competitiveness ranking by the World Economic Forum points towards its sharp focus on improving competitiveness. Towards this end, institutions of higher education have a great responsibility in empowering students with intellectual skills and ability to research, communicate and solve problems, ready to take up challenges in a changing global world in which most future jobs have not yet been created.

The focal point of higher education is to provide quality of learning and innovation in all programmes and consider new areas of learning with all rigour and relevance.The youth of today are not averse to taking risksand a growing number are inclined to work on their own. On the academic side, students look for flexibilityand choices. The complexity of present day issues do not allow for a linear or ready-made formulae. Multi and inter-disciplinary universities, at par with international standards, are a growing trend, where individuals are not restricted by the boundaries of a particular discipline.

Technology, particularly Information Technology has been a game changer. It calls for a complete re-engineering of educational processes and systems, both in content and style of delivery. The informational role of a teacher is giving way to a broader role of a mentor. ICT is encouraging self-learning and helping students acquireself-upgrading skills. Internationalization of education is one of the major trends in the Indian higher education sector. All measures to supplement faculty resources by reputed foreign faculty has the potential to bring in a fresh approach to pedagogyand research, one of the strongest pillars of any university.

Focus is on practical orientation and outcome based education. Students get an opportunity to come up with practical and realistic solutions.‘Learning by doing’  validates theoretical concepts in the curriculum.The Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the latest trend. They are breaking the barriers of geography and are accessible anytime anywhere.They have easily brought the best universities within the reach of students. MOOCs which were introduced by UGC in 2016 are ready to take off in a big way. 

Institutions of higher education have to change and prepare students for the future by identifying and preparing students for futuristic jobs and opportunities. Trends to watch out for in 2017:
  • More concern with enhancing employability and encouraging entrepreneurship in a big way 
  • Course content aligned to changing industry needs 
  • Introduction of more inter-disciplinary courses, courses at the boundaries of intersecting disciplines
  • Enhanced seamless vertical and horizontal mobility to create intellectual, economic and social value
  • Learning rather than teaching to be the guiding principle for tomorrow in a 24x7 e-learning environment.
  • Institutions of higher learning to offer an immersive learning environment that simulates realistic scenarios
  • Use of Open Educational Resources (OER) that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by users
  • Students to be imparted smart skills such as Machine Learning, Robotics, Business Analytics, Big Data Analytics, Gaming Skills, Critical Analysis skills and more.
  • Attracting the very best minds to the teaching profession by not only offering reasonable economic compensation but respect of society and peer groups to teachers

The sheer scale and diversity of the current Indian higher education scenario presents a significant challenge for the educator.

Rekha Mathur

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