Education sector suffers from leadership crisis

New Delhi, Feb 14 :  The dire shortage of capable leaders is precipitating a crisis in our higher education sector, a situation not likely to be remedied until 2020, according to a global survey conducted by the Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI).

The survey results were unveiled on the first day of the two-day education summit at the India International Centre, which is debating the role of transformational leaders in the sector.

The summit was organised by the EPSI, a representative body of over 500 higher education institutions in India.

Nearly 81 percent of the respondents, who took part in the survey, pointed to a serious gap between the existing pool and the requirement of academic leaders to meet targets of the 12th Five Year Plan and India Vision 2020 for Higher Education sector.

Only 18 percent respondents said there is moderate gap between the expected demand and the available pool, according to an EPSI statement.

The survey received responses from thought leaders, chancellors, vice-chancellors, deans, principals and professors from the US, Britain, Germany, Australia, France, Hungary and Dubai.

The survey was conducted in 22 Indian cities, including Delhi-NCR, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Manipal.

When asked about ‘the critically important traits’ of a transformational leader in Indian Higher Education, 80 percent of the respondents cited innovative approach to development as the most important.

The respondents also felt that high professional integrity, ethical standards, global exposure and ability to change were some of the other requisite qualities of a transformational leader.

Arun Nigavekar, former chairman of University Grants Commission, defined the traits of transformational leaders, which includes making critical judgments; differentiating between good, bad and indifferent; communicating intelligently and being flexible, adaptable and tolerant of other creeds and cultures.

Earlier, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor delivered the inaugural speech.

Tharoor welcomed the growth of the private sector education institutions that make up for 64 percent of the total institutions in India and contribute to 57 percent of total enrollment.

Regarding ‘the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Higher Education Institutions Bill 2011,’ Tharoor said: “The purpose of this bill is not to ‘harass’ the educationists but to make all of them ‘honest’, alluding to unfair practices such as like capitation fee, multiple fee structures and differential salaries to teachers prevalent in the education system.”

Significantly, only 20 percent of the respondents felt that the proposed bill would curb malpractices, while 80 percent said that this will lead to wrong precedents as the higher education system faces several constraints and challenges.

The survey conducted, jointly with, also examined why Indian higher education institutes are unable to attract overseas Indians with exceptional academic background and proven leadership skills.

“The results of the survey on ‘Leadership Challenges’ in the higher education system are alarming and demand a serious attention by political leadership, policy makers, chancellors and vice chancellors,” said G. Vishwanathan, president, ESPI and chancellor of VIT University, Vellore. (IANS)