By Supriyo Chaudhuri
"Yesterday, for me, was a day of fascinating conversations, particularly on the state of Higher Education in India. This is with two senior executives from an Indian Higher Education institution. We talked about a number of things, including the changing mindset in India and the the regulatory regime, as well as the possibilities, and pitfalls, of collaborating with British and American institutions. For me, forever an enthusiast of global education, it was insightful, if dispiriting, discussion. Importantly, it gave me yet again a clear sense of the private higher education space in India. We agreed on most things, except one perhaps, and that is the role and importance of knowledge in Higher Education.
"The Indian Educators were quite clear: Knowledge is no longer important. Commercially, they did not think it made sense, as the students don't care about knowledge: They want the degree, as easily as they can. The parents don't care what the students are learning, they said, as long as they get a job. On another level, they highlighted the importance of attitude, the commitment to work, adaptability and even spirituality, over knowledge."
Fascinating consideration of the usefulness vs. knowledge debate also being waged in U.S. higher ed, and I think, among higher ed (and many secondary ed) folks in most developed and emerging nations. As publicly-financed higher education continues to suffer declining support, the mindset of those in private institutions assumes rising dominance - JL