Higher Education IS NOT Higher Learning

Author: K Sankaran.

Society runs on the basis of the Legislature-Executive-Judiciary as the power triad; as if, it is power that is all important.

Added to it is the fourth estate, the Free Press.

We need to recognize another key institutional organ of society that can shape society which is based not on power but on knowledge.

This idea, in fact, indirectly corresponds to the Indic classification of individuals that should be based on personal disposition; Knowledge Keepers, Power Keepers, Money Keepers and Service Keepers. These are Value Keepers who choose to support themselves and the society based on purely the individual disposition; personal psychological disposition and not birth.

What is seriously wrong with today’s Higher Education in India can be attributed to the overriding obsession with the power paradigm. The Knowledge revolution of which, the internet is the main driver, is a powerful force to unseat the power paradigm. Yet it is late in arriving at the portals of Indian Higher Education.

Those in the higher education sector are meant to further the teaching-learning process and support knowledge expansion. We cannot do these by fiats. We can only achieve this task by creation of an ecology where learning happens.

This then is the institutional challenge for those in the Higher Education sector.

We have to deeply delve into a three-pronged direction to reset the higher Education ecology:

  1. Social Entrepreneurship
  2. Leadership in Higher Education
  3. Self Regulation

Social Entrepreneurship is about releasing the entrepreneurial energy of those who are willing to invest in Higher Learning. This cannot be equated to profiteering. While profiteering is poison, we have to understand that economic sustainability is a sine qua non for the healthy existence of the Higher Education sector. Appropriate governance structures have to be implemented.

Today, Higher Education leadership is more about following rules and avoidance of risks; academicians moaning governmental fiats that seek compliance and celebrating concessional handouts. A new leadership based on sound thinking, recognition of research as knowledge seeking, partnering with students in thinking, co-creation of knowledge, serendipitous power of knowledge and seeking of wisdom has to emerge.

The entire sector of Higher Education has to adopt self regulation within the sector. This does not mean unbridled power, but responsible peer-to-peer cooperation, mutual guidance, accountability, new institutional measurement systems and structural mechanisms to convey accountability to the rest of the society.

Are we ready for such a paradigm shift?

Professor Sankaran, currently Director of Justice KS Hegde Institute of Management, Nitte, is a B. Tech Honours (IIT, Kharagpur), PGDM (IIM Bangalore) and PhD (Kent State University, USA). He has several years of academic experience in the India, US, UK, Middle East and East Asia. (View More)

1 thought on “Higher Education IS NOT Higher Learning”

  1. Himanshu Kumar w

    Intellectual Kshatriya sadhuvad for this article.

    I think developing the risk taking attitude, exploring new are in his disciplines is neither one day endeavour nor one stage play. Such attitude should be implanted since primary education so that one could refine the Idea and implement them at higher education level.
    For this he must be trained in such a way that he confidently express himself as a well informed #cultural_ambassador and experienced professional in his specialized academic area.

    After then your proposed way will be more effective.

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