Quality Parameters In Higher Education Education Essay

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India possesses a highly developed higher education system which offers facility of education and training in almost all aspects of humans creative and intellectual areas such as humanities, agriculture, engineering, medicine, dentistry, law commerce and management etc.. Quality is a critical factor in influencing the educational outcome of the educational institute. The various regulatory bodies regulating higher education in India have constituted autonomous bodies for monitoring quality standards in the institutions under their purview. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is one of such bodies constituted by UGC, for monitoring quality standards in higher education. NAAC identified seven criteria for teacher education institutions as the basis for its assessment and accreditation. Various quality aspects related to the identified criteria are discussed in the paper.

Higher Education in India

India has been a major seat of learning for thousands of years. The present format of Higher education in India was started in 1857. At present, India possesses a highly developed higher education system which offers facility of education and training in almost all aspects of human's creative and intellectual. India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States ( World Bank). In future, India will be one of the largest education hubs.

In India, the central and most state boards uniformly follows 10+2+3 pattern of education. After passing the Higher Secondary Examination, students may enroll in general degree programmes such as bachelor's degree in arts, commerce or science. The other option is professional degree programmess such as engineering, agriculture, pharmacy, medicine or law. Master's degree is normally of two-year duration in both the general and professional fields of study. It could be coursework based with or without thesis or research. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is pursued after masters programme and generally takes two to five years to be awarded. Students are expected to write a substantial thesis based on original research. Diploma Courses are also available at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. At the undergraduate level, length of the diploma programme varies from one to three years, while postgraduate diploma are of one year duration.

University Grants Commission (UGC) set up under UGC Act 1956 is responsible for coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards and release of grants to universities and research organizations.

All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has been established under the AICTE Act, 1987. The Council is responsible for all steps that are desired for ensuring coordinated and integrated development of technical education and for maintenance of standards.

The higher educational institutions suffer from large quality variation in so much so that a NASSCOM-MacKinsey Report-2005 has said that not more than 15per cent of graduates of general education and 25-30per cent of Technical Education are fit for employment. The number of graduates coming out of technical colleges increased to over 700,000 in 2011 from 550,000 in FY 2010 (NASSCOM, Nandakumar, 2011). However, 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology( Anand, 2011).

Quality Parameters in Higher Education

The term quality has been defined in different ways by various authors. Harvey and Green (1993) instead of defining one notion of quality they grouped it into five discrete but interrelated ways of thinking.  Harvey (1995) defined five interrelated concepts of quality: exceptional (excellence); perfection (or consistency or flawless outcome); fitness for purpose (fulfilling a customer's requirements); value for money; and transformation.

UNESCO definition of quality (Vlãsceanu et al., 2007) as cited in Analytic Quality Glossary describes Quality (Academic ) in higher education as a multi-dimensional, multi-level, and dynamic concept that relates to the contextual settings of an educational model, to the institutional mission and objectives, as well as to specific standards within a given system, institution, programme, or discipline. Quality may thus take different meanings depending on: (i) the understandings of various interests of different constituencies or stakeholders in higher education (quality requirements set by student/university discipline/labour market/society/ government); (ii) its references: inputs, processes, outputs, missions, objectives, etc.; (iii) the attributes or characteristics of the academic world which are worth evaluating; and (iv) the historical period in the development of higher education.

Universities UK (UUK, 2008) states Academic 'quality' as the effectiveness of the learning experience provided by universities to their students, i.e. the appropriateness and effectiveness of learning, teaching, assessment and support opportunities provided to assist students achieve their learning objectives.

The economic development of a country to a large extent depends on quality of education. The economic progress can be sustainable only if higher education system is equipped with stringent quality assurance processes. Quality is a critical factor in influencing the educational outcome of the educational institute on one hand and employability of the graduates on the other. This in turn depends on the quality of teachers at all levels from school to higher educational institutions. The challenges faced by teacher education institutions raise pertinent questions for both the school systems and the governments. On the one hand, school system has to grapple with the problems of teacher quality and the increasing student and society expectations and on another hand governments are struggling to provide the teacher education system an environment that promotes innovation and match the requirements of the school system (NAAC, India COL, Canada, 2007). This calls for a breakthrough and bold thinking on the part of all the stakeholders.

In today's world the interests of stakeholders like students, parents, future employers, the State and funding bodies need to be taken care of while developing a strategy leading to quality in higher education, (Barnett 1992, Staropoli, 1991). This requires for developing an efficient monitoring mechanism to maintain and improve the standards of education. In this regard, UGC has constituted National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) for monitoring quality standards in higher education. The quality assurance framework designed and followed by NAAC has all the basic elements of quality assurance like accreditation, assessment and academic audit.

Quality Parameters

The Manual for Self-Studies for the universities (NAAC, 2008) has provided a detailed list of criteria that may be used for setting quality parameters - statistics, indicators and benchmarks.

NAAC identified the following seven criteria for teacher education institutions as the basis for its assessment and accreditation with an assumption that these seven criteria encompass all the processes of an institution:

1. Curricular Aspects

2. Teaching-Learning and Evaluation

3. Research, Consultancy and Extension

4. Infrastructure and Learning Resources

5. Student Support and Progression

6. Governance and Leadership

7. Innovative Practices

The assessment by NAAC takes a holistic view of all the elements of inputs, processes and outputs of an institution.

Quality Concerns for quality output from Teacher Education Institutions

Following concerns need attention for improving quality of output from teacher educational institutions:

Prepare teachers for 21st century learners at all levels of education

Design and review curriculum keeping in view needs of 21st century learners

Encourage use of interactive instructional techniques like focused group discussion, projects, presentations etc.

Promote strategies for developing soft skills: learning to learn, communication skills, team building etc.

Promote use of e-resources

Promote development of ICT based materials

Provide facilities for developing ICT based materials

Equip teachers with skills for using ICT for assessment and evaluation of students

Use of assessment and evaluation outcomes for improving performance of students

Involve school staff and mentor teachers for developing practice teaching plans

Encourage teachers for action research

Undertake research to develop new and innovative approaches for teaching

Encourage teachers to experiment new teaching strategies

Disseminate findings of research for wider usage

Incorporate findings of the research undertaken by teachers

Create conducive environment for faculty to provide consultancy services to schools

Collaborate with professionals to improve teaching and learning

Build better relationship with stakeholder

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