Establishing high quality higher education institutions is not easy. – Fxsad

Establishing high quality higher education institutions is not easy.

HEIs refer to universities and colleges; They do not include institutions that focus solely on research. This section describes what founders of HEIs must do. These observations are not a comprehensive list of ‘how to structure a good force’, but unless these issues are addressed, a good higher education institution cannot be established.

Before proceeding, let’s establish an imperfect but adequate definition of a high-quality HEI. The graduates should have a good understanding of the area of ​​study and should have the ability to apply it to solve real-world problems. They must also be committed to being inclusive citizens. And the HEI must have real institutional strength, clarity of educational vision and organizational structure and process to implement it. Of over 60,000 HIAs in India, not more than 5% are of high quality and probably another 5% close. Note that in the remaining 90% there are high-quality teachers and students who exceed that definition, but whose academic excellence falls below the average.

First of all, the founders must be clear about the purpose of the HEI. It regulates and promotes everything; Failure to do so will result in unevenness and slippage. This objective should be the fourth of the three inextricably linked issues that the founders should take care of.

First, the founders should be clear about the programs the HEI will run – these should arise from its mission. ‘Programmes’ refers to programs of study in Diploma, Undergraduate, Postgraduate or other disciplines or such as Science, Social Science, Engineering etc. The curriculum should be informed by its objectives.

Second, there should be clarity on the policy of inclusion of the economically disadvantaged. And this must arise from the purpose.

Thirdly, the founders need to facilitate adequate funding to start up and have a proper financial model. Ironically, many founders do not address this and the power struggles.

Too many founders don’t pay enough attention to the details of how their programs and inclusion choices relate to their financial model. Therefore, they either do not know the main issue or they wishfully believe that it does not apply to them. And that core issue is whether HEIs can be financially sustainable on student fees alone.

Even the most expensive Ivy League institutions work with a large corpus; It is the return on the corpus that supports their work. Around the world, HEIs can recover 10-50% of their costs from student fees, with the rest covered by corpus (endowment) or public funding. That student fee reimbursement range is determined by the program’s selection and inclusion policy.

The program fee depends on what other HEIs offer and more importantly the job opportunities after the program. Even at the highest end in India, engineering in the IITs, institutions can recover only 20% of the operating costs from the fees.

Therefore, financial sustainability, program choices, strategy and inclusion policy should be well formulated.

While we can’t go into the details, let’s note that the core cost structure of any HI is determined by external factors. Faculty compensation — a large portion of the cost — is driven by salaries in the public university system. The teacher to student ratio should be based on what is academically sound. Other operating costs can be managed within a smaller range, such as facility maintenance, admissions and student activities. Also, any good HEI should invest some of its faculty’s time in research, so they stay up-to-date in their field (other teaching suffers) and this has value implications.

In conclusion, the founders must decide what programs the HEI will run and how inclusive the institution will be. Based on that, they should generate a corpus that can support the HEI. This fine balance is not just a matter of money. It strikes at the very heart of that particular power’s purpose.

This balance will require continued work until the HI stabilizes, which may take 10 to 15 years. Until then, the work of the founders is not finished. Otherwise, quality degradation may be triggered.

The same is true in public institutions. In their case, the relevant government is committed to supporting what the corporation is doing in a private institution. Over the past few decades, too many public institutions have borne the brunt of the government’s unrealistic push towards ‘sustainability’.

The fourth issue is the appointment of the head of the institution – vice chancellor or director. A positive force cannot be developed and sustained unless the leader is fully aligned with the goals and values ​​of the founders. This should be obvious; But when you look around, you notice a lot of mistakes. With the right leader, the operations team has a very good chance of dealing with multifaceted challenges, which is the subject of another column.

Anurag Bahar is the CEO of Azim Premji Foundation.

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