OpinionQuality and Quantity Paradox in Admissions in Higher Education

Quality and Quantity Paradox in Admissions in Higher Education

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Uttar Pradesh:

Indian summer season is the period in which admissions are granted in the higher education institutions (HEIs). This is the time when the students leaving secondary education system remain panicky all through before getting settled into the higher education system. From the time in memorial, the children and parents wait for the outcome of this admission process as it is the putting of first foot by any student into the survival realm of life. 

For every child, the course in which admission is granted becomes the start of a journey full of responsibilities, however, both the aimed as well as achieved destinations keep differing for each one and are largely affected by the discussions in the peer group along with the opinion of family and friends. Usually, there is dismal consideration of the competence and liking of a child before opting for future course of study such as in arts, commerce, design, engineering, law, medicine, science etc.

The higher education aims at empowering the student with the finishing abilities for applying the knowledge gained to secure the survival. The admission process being the gateway to HEIs depends upon the demand side of students and supply side of the education institutions along with the capability and quality of education seekers as well as education providers. The ensuing globalization has positively contributed with regard to the available opportunities within or outside the boundary of the nation which need to be capitalized by the young generation of the country for emerging as a resourceful and prosperous society helping the humanity across the world. 

A closer look of admission phenomenon from the admitting student’s point of view indicates that every student aspires to seek admission in the courses and institutions which have high reputations in the public. But in the majority of the courses nowadays, this wishful thinking of admission in the course and institution of choice relies upon the performance exhibited by the student in the eligibility examinations.

Without any prejudice to the prevailing practice, the merit of admission seekers is deciphered by the rank secured in admission tests and everyone may not be able to fare well to satiate his/her desire. It is quite likely that someone has good scores in the eligibility qualification, but the inadequacy in the demonstration of the academic performance in the admission process for any reason may lead to deprivation from the desired opportunities of higher study in respect to course and institution of choice while vice versa is also possible. The prevailing perception in young minds about the relevance and usefulness of the higher education sought by them is subjected to a jolt when they do not get the desired in terms of quality of education and post-education dividends.

Therefore, the counseling sessions for identifying the specific interests, liking and capabilities of children in schools at primary and secondary levels will help them in choosing the appropriate subsequent higher education stream or even not opting for higher education. Further, looking at the gross enrolment ratio, it is evident that with the committed efforts of the Government, the numbers of seats in various courses have undergone significant capacity enhancement in last few decades in both types of public funded and self-funded institutions as well as courses.

Actually, there has been an upsurge of self-funded institutions & courses due to the reduction of public spending and pressing need of capacity addition on the higher education and simultaneously increasing demand of higher education due to growing population and public aspirations for getting better opportunities through education. It is worth mentioning that top Universities of the world situated in the USA have been of self-funded type, therefore the private Institutions of self-funded nature are not constrained from demonstrating the best performance. 

This increase in capacity had been demonstrating positive results for some period, but with the passage of time certain courses/institutions are becoming unpopular and there is incomplete utilization of the capacity due to seats remaining unfilled in these courses in certain institutions of either type. The phenomenon of all seats not getting filled points towards the obvious weakness in respect to the quality of education in respective Institution/course making it unworthy for the students aspiring for higher education in the respective stream(s). This incomplete capacity utilization affects the receipts and eventually disturbs the budgetary provisions of such Institutions.

The insufficient receipts from the students lead to serious implications in case of self-funded courses as well as Institutions because of the viability of running the course(s)/Institution(s) getting endangered due to the institution’s inability to incur expenditure on hiring of teaching and non-teaching staff, maintenance, upkeep, removal of obsolescence and other related issues. 

In view of the hardships faced in managing the self-funded course(s) and/or Institution(s) the respective governance resorts to incentivizing the admission process by making it lucrative through various allurements. The marketing of higher education has become quite prevalent nowadays due to the insufficient admissions challenging the survival of the majority of the self-funded institution(s)/course(s). In such compelling circumstances of filling up the seats without concern of the quality of admitting students, the final quality of graduating students get constrained. 

The public funded Institution(s)/course(s) do not face the worrisome difficulty of survival as the public funding takes care of the financing gap arising due to inadequate receipt.  But, the significant capacity of higher education being catered through self-financing, results in the inevitable loss of the quality of students passing out from them. Quite frequent adverse comments on the poor employability and unworthiness of the educated ones are primarily due to the poor quality of admitting students and inadequacy of the rigour of education in the higher education institutions.

The vicious loop created by the ever high aspirations of students for pursuing higher education, poor quality of admission seekers, compulsion on the institutions to fill all the seats, financial viability for the survival of human resource and other associated elements of the institution etc. needs to be broken for qualitative improvement in the higher education. No compromise with the quality of admitting students irrespective of seats getting filled or not will eventually change the public perspective on higher education and make it worthwhile. 

For strengthening the quality of graduating generation, the concerted efforts and affirmative action is needed for stringent benchmarking of the quality of students intake to HEI and making the higher education system of the country free from the obligation of admitting students while compromising with their quality for the sake of viability of the institution/course.

About Author: Dr. Onkar Singh has been the founder Vice Chancellor of Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur (U.P.), the first non-affiliating technical University of U.P. state. Currently, he is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur (U.P.).



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