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Higher Education should not be driven by money, says MAHE VC

August 14, 2018

Dr Vinod Bhat, vice chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) talks to Priyanka Srivastava about heightened expectations and increased challenges after being conferred with IoE status

Institution of Eminence (IoE) recognition has added responsibility on Manipal Academy, and for VC Dr Vinod Bhat, the aim is to take education to its next level.

The plan includes setting up new departments, adding new courses and appointing new faculty members. "We do not aim to increase the fee. We are creating scholarship funds backed by philanthropists, corporates and alumnus, to help the deserving students from economically weaker sections," said Bhat.

In an exclusive chat with the Education Times, Bhat emphasised on the slow growth rate of public as well as private education sector. "The growth in the private sector has been sluggish. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) has been 24-25 % in the last few years, which is dismal as compared to other countries," he says. The GER in Korea is 100% while in the US and Canada, it is 75 % and 85 %, respectively. "This shows that the need for growth is far more than what we think," says Bhat, pointing at the limited focus on the quality of education.

Looking at the population of India, the importance of private education sector cannot be undermined. But that does not stop the debate on the status of private versus public education institutes. "There are good private institutes and bad government institutes, and quality of education can determine its ratings. We need a strong governing body that ensures that the teaching and research standards are upgraded. We need to bring out institutes at par with the global standards," adds Bhat. 

With an increasing need for quality education, the demand for an independent accreditation agency has increased. The universities in the US and west Europe have involved multiple agencies and the accreditation is by choice, says Bhat.

"In India, MHRD is the single umbrella that governs the accreditation and approving agencies. Institutes such as UGC, NAC, NIRF and others are under one ministry, which fails to bring in diversity and transparency needed for accreditation of universities," says Bhat.

Poor quality of research in India is yet another area that needs immediate attention. Two main reasons marring the research sector is low funding and lopsided distribution of funds, says Bhat. "While research work should be based on meritocracy, the interest of private players is largely dismissed."

"Most research funding agencies delay the release of grants. Research associates, in their early careers, do not get paid on time, which gets demotivating," adds Bhat, pointing at the adverse effect on filing patents. "India has a long incubation period that extends to as much as 84 months. In countries like China and the US, the incubation time before filing patents lasts only from 18- 30 months," adds Bhat.

This article was originally published in The Times Of India.

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