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Higher education in India: Moving towards global relevance and competitiveness

The global economy is undergoing structural transformation: there will be need for a workforce of 3.3 billion by 2020, increasingly in the services and capital intensive-manufacturing sectors. The phenomena is also expected to play out in India – by 2020, 90% of India’s GDP and 75% of employment is expected to be contributed by the services and manufacturing sectors. Technological advancement will make several jobs redundant while also creating new job roles. This structural shift in employment will increase demand for sophisticated workers, innovators, and thinkers who can thrive in a globally-connected and dynamic economy. India, with its large workforce and increasing pool of higher education graduates, is strategically positioned to reap the benefits of this shift. However, the ‘demographic divided’ will be squandered unless India is able to create a “globally relevant and competitive” higher education system that serves the requirements of both the domestic as well as global economy.

While we acknowledge that the Government has proposed and is also taking several measures to improve the system on the above aspects, there are some steps it could take to make the Indian higher education system a role model for other emerging systems. Institutions, on their part, would need to adopt a transformative and innovative approach across all levers of higher education: from curricula and pedagogy to the use of technology to partnerships, governance and funding, to become globally relevant and competitive. In this report, we have looked at some world-class institutions and country systems that could hold important lessons for government and institutions.