Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call for reforms in higher education got headway on Thursday with the Planning Commission recommending higher remuneration for faculty and mandatory curricula revision every three years.
The commission said the government should look at alternate ways to improve the wages of professors and to tap the large pool of teachers of Indian origin. "The faculty can get a share of the money earned from research projects for the corporate world. Even research students can earn from these," a government official said.
The commission also proposed that some faculty be recruited on salaries higher than government pay scales, on contract basis for five years with no assurance of automatic renewal. The contract system would be mostly for NRIs with special research funding support. Tenured appointments should also be available at a certain stage for professors achieving objectively set academic standards, Planning Commission vice-chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said in a presentation to the PM.
To improve teaching methods, it recommended less “chalk-talk classroom teaching” and a more interactive tutorial-seminar system which should be practical. Addressing the criticism by the corporate world that most students coming out of the higher education system are unemployable, it recommended that universities revise curricula once in three years and the revision be open to outside peer review. The process of revision should be decentralized to departments rather than academic councils of the universities, it said.
The government aims to bring two per cent students under the scholarship fold and double the number of junior research fellowships. This is aimed at improving research quality. It is also working on information communication technology for all 367 universities and on connecting 18,000 colleges through the National Knowledge Network, as recommended by the National Knowledge Commission, the commission said.
The commission also said it had given in-principle approval to the setting up of three new IITs, seven new IIMs, 20 National Institutes of Technology, five Indian Institutes of Science Education Research, 20 IIITs, two Schools of Planning and Architecture.