Researchersfrom the RAND Corporation unveiled a course of action to link highereducation quality in India to funding in a way that will hold thecountry’s educational institutions accountable for theirperformance, encourage greater innovation and contribute to thenation’s education goals.
Thestudy comes at a time when India is experiencing rapid growth inhigher education enrollment. India’s higher education system is oneof the world’s largest, enrolling nearly 22mn students in more than46,000 institutions.
Butthe system’s rapid expansion faces challenges from underpreparedfaculty, unwieldy governance and other obstacles to innovation andimprovement that could prohibit India from meeting its nationaleducation goals, according to the study.
India’sgovernment currently plays a “command and control” role in highereducation. Under government oversight, public universities set thecurricula, determine course offerings, administer exams and grantdegrees. Affiliated colleges, both private and public, teach studentsaccording to these standards and requirements.
India’s12th Five-Year Plan -- the government’s key policy document foreconomic development through 2017 -- proposes a “steer andevaluate” role that allows a greater degree of self-regulation andenforces higher levels of accountability across the educationsystem’s institutions.
Researchersfrom RAND Education reviewed documents and policies from countriesthat are similar to India in terms of size, governance structure orhigher education system quality. The study revealed a connectionbetween funding and measures of quality that are closely aligned withIndia’s national goals for higher education.
“Ourreview of the international literature indicates that countriesstriving for this type of decentralized system often rely on policiesthat link quality and funding,” said Lindsay Daugherty, co-authorof the report and an associate policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofitresearch organization. “These policies can provide a range offlexible options for aligning funding with higher education goals andincentivizing self-governing institutions to pursue qualityimprovement.”
Amongthe study’s key recommendations:
· Policymakersin India should continue to develop and implement an accreditationsystem that can, over time, become a key measure of quality. In thiscontext, it may be noted that while India’s University GrantsCommission recently made accreditation mandatory for the institutesit regulates, the RAND study finds that voluntary accreditation withties to incentives is more effective in obtaining institutionalcooperation and compliance.
· Indiashould develop and implement a system to collect and report data oninstitutional quality that can be used to gauge progress towardnational goals.
· Aneffort is needed to gradually phase in methods to link funding toquality measures. Starting small and gradually phasing in moreconcrete links between funding and quality will be important toensure a successful transition for India’s higher education system.
· Leadersshould continue efforts to develop and implement a student financialaid system, and gradually tie eligibility to accreditation andquality measures. In addition to providing access to education forstudents in need, student loan systems can play a valuable role inlinking funding to quality by tying an institution’s eligibility toreceive student loan funds to quality standards.
· Indiashould continue efforts to expand funding for competitive grants toindividual researchers. Peer-reviewed research grants have beenintroduced in India in response to the 12th Five-Year Plan’s callto strengthen the nation’s research capacity. Such grants also canbe used to create a vibrant environment for research innovation andteaching strategy development.
“India’shigher education system is in transition,” said Rafiq Dossani, asenior policy researcher at RAND and a co-author of the report.“Instituting policies that link funding to quality will help guidethe country’s newly autonomous institutions as they aim to improveoverall education quality.”
Thereport, “Building the Links Between Funding and Quality in HigherEducation: India’s Challenge,” can be found at www.rand.org.Other co-authors include Trey Miller and Megan Clifford.
Supportfor the study was provided by RAND’s Investment in People and Ideasprogram, which combines philanthropic contributions from individuals,foundations, and private-sector firms with earnings from RAND’sendowment and operations to support research on issues that reachbeyond the scope of traditional client sponsorship.
RANDEducation is a leader in providing objective, high-quality researchand analysis on educational challenges that is used to improveeducational access, quality and outcomes in the United States andthroughout the world.
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