How will India’s universities implement the 10% EWS quota?
The US education secretary, John Gardner wrote a great book in the 1960 and asked a pertinent question, “Can we be equal and excellent?”. The new regulations around the 10% quota for the economically weak sound well intended – that a child’s life chances should not be fixed by certain morally arbitrary circumstances of their birth such as their social class, race, and economic status. Once implemented, the regulations shall significantly influence such a child’s life chances in terms of labour market success, preparation for democratic citizenship, and general human flourishing. However, implementation of the same without impacting the quality of education shall be challenge for universities unless they reinvent themselves – education that is multimodal, modular, blended and technology assisted can help institutions overcome this new challenge!
Institutions are being instructed to increase the capacity in their already over- crowded classrooms to accommodate this extra demand. This shall call for a massive increase of infrastructure inside classrooms and Universities will need to recruit additional faculty to handle the workload. However, we would like to make a case that counting only on the traditional classroom model for expansion of capacity seems inadequate given our demographic dividend (where 65% of our population is less than 35 years old).
This new regulation shall, at the same time, present a large opportunity for higher education institutions both to serve their mission and to increase the number of students they impact; however they will have to creatively think about their product and think of effective ways to deliver them to the modern learner. Universities would need to think beyond the classrooms and integrate several aspects of University 4.0 (U4.0) – Is it going to be physical classrooms or online classrooms; text or multimedia; degrees or apprenticeships; study before working or continuing education or creative combinations? Universities will need to think of an education model that is multi-modal, modular and blended – where students may not come to the campus everyday but learn the skills on the job; where assessments may not be a year-end activity but continuous feedback; where teachers need not physically come to the classroom but can interact with the students online. Students would need a continuum between certificates, diplomas and degrees where each can be an opening balance to the next one! Credentialing would need a fresh look where students could study several parts of their curriculum online and aggregate credits towards their certification. Universities will need to think harder about collaboration; where industry, academia and government can partner to create a structure that can benefit from the discovery driven culture of the University and the innovation driven culture of the industry!
The litany of disruption in higher education redefined by global competition, new technologies, digitisation, growing costs, reservations, strong demand for rapid impact call for a fresh strategy and new approaches to the problem.
Universities will need to emerge and create a performance driven culture where there is a hope of rising and a fear of falling. Instead of just quick-fixes, it needs rethinking education – always on, on-the-go, online, onsite, on-the-job, gamified, crowd sourced, just-in-time, modular, collaborative and impactful.
(The authors work at Schoolguru Eduserve. Views expressed are personal)