Tag Archives: Higher education in India

What the UGC Gazette Notification 2016 Portends for the State of Higher Education in India: Rina Ramdev and Debaditya Bhattacharya

This is a guest post by RINA RAMDEV AND DEBADITYA BHATTACHARYA

The much-debated API (Academic Performance Indicator) system, linking promotions of faculty members in Indian universities/colleges to a quantifiable assessment of their performance, was introduced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in its 2010 Regulations. Since then, there has been mounting resistance and discontent among massive sections of the teaching community – forcing the UGC to withdraw the said assessment framework for a while in 2013, before reintroducing it across institutions of higher education. However, over the years, the ire of protesting teachers has translated into a sustained critique of the API system and its failure to account for the infrastructural inadequacies of public institutions as adversely impacting the promotion prospects of thousands of teachers across the country.

It was rightly argued that a point-based appraisal pattern reduces teaching as an adventure of ideas into a standardised set of visible-verifiable outcomes and deliverables, expending in this, the necessary surplus of every academic encounter. The clock-timed hours of classroom-teaching – convertible into digits and decimals – were not only incommensurate to the disaggregation of thought beyond workdays and work-hours, but also insisted on a corporate-model professionalism limiting the exact interface between the teacher[-as-service-provider] and the student[-as-client].

The perils of quantification notwithstanding, the API system practically sought to make teaching a redundant exercise in terms of ‘necessary qualifications’ for faculty promotions. With a lucrative price-tagging of the ‘value’ of research activities conducted by individual teachers outside of teaching-schedules and the consequent structures of waging intellectual productivity through the numbers of projects and publications, the API contributed to a voiding of the classroom in undergraduate colleges in many parts of the country. Forced to prove her/his levels of productivity as the most essential claim to survival and growth within the field, the teacher needed but little to do by way of engaging students. And yet, on the contrary, the government persisted with its policy of withdrawing research grants and forcing research organisations to look for alternative sources of funding to sustain their work. Consequently, teachers have been infrastructurally forced into producing dubious research in the cause of ‘career advancement’, self-funding their way into business-rackets parading as scholarly platforms.

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On higher education in India: Saattvic responds to Thane Richard

This is a guest post by SAATTVIC

Hi Thane,

I recently read your piece for Kafila, which was subsequently reproduced in part in the Hindu. I studied economics there as well, batch of 2006. I subsequently went on to read for an MPhil in Economics at Oxford.

Good on you for writing that piece. It raised lots of questions about our education system, and I agree with a lot of what you wrote (and share the same dismay at the dictation sessions from one particular professor you referred to).

There’s just a few things that I’d like to say, but before I say them let me say that none of this comes from being ‘nationalist’ or ‘patriotic’ in the slightest – just as you spent three years studying, working and paying taxes in India, I spent five studying, working and paying taxes in the UK, and I would like to believe that doing so has given me a bit of a world view of these things. Moreover, my area of interest is education economics, which is what my research focused on. Continue reading On higher education in India: Saattvic responds to Thane Richard