Higher education is generally understood to cover teaching, research, and extension. If we critically analyze the different concepts of higher education, we can list the various roles higher education plays in society. Higher education is the source or feeder system in all walks of life and therefore supplies the much-needed human resources in management, planning, design, teaching, and research. The scientific and technological advancement and economic growth of a country are as dependent on the higher education system. Development of indigenous technology and capabilities in agriculture, food security, and other industrial areas are possible because of our world-class higher education infrastructure. Higher education also provides opportunities for lifelong learning, allowing people to upgrade their knowledge and skills from time to time based on societal needs. The Kothari Commission (1966) listed the following roles of the universities 1:
- To seek and cultivate new knowledge, to engage vigorously and fearlessly in the pursuit of truth, and to interpret old knowledge and beliefs in the light of new needs and discoveries:
- To provide the right kind of leadership in all walks of life, to identify gifted youth and help them develop their potential to the full by cultivating physical fitness, developing the powers of the mind, and cultivating the right interests, attitudes, and moral and intellectual values,
- To provide the society with competent men and women trained in agriculture, arts, medicine, science and technology, and various other professions, who will also be cultivated individuals, imbibed with a sense of social purpose;
- To strive to promote quality and social justice, and to reduce social and cultural differences through the diffusion of education; and
- To foster in the teachers and students and through them in the society generally, the attitudes and values needed for developing the ‘good life’ in individuals and society.
The report of the UNESCO International Commission on Education in the 21St Century titled “Learning: The Treasure Within” (popularly known as Delors Commission) emphasized four pillars of education: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be. While higher education intends to inculcate all these four in individuals and society, the report highlighted the following specific functions of higher education2
- To prepare students for research and teaching;
- To provide highly specialized training courses adapted to the needs of economic and social life;
- To be open to all, so as to cater to the many aspects of lifelong education in the widest sense; and
- To promote international cooperation through internationalization of research, technology, networking, and free movement of persons and scientific ideas (UNESCO, 1996).
According to Ronald Barnett, there are four predominant concepts of higher education3:
(i) Development of Qualified human resources: Higher education as the production of qualified human resources. In this view, higher education is seen as a process in which the students are counted as “products” absorbed in the labour market. Thus, higher education becomes the input to the growth and development of business and industry.
(ii) Training and Research: Higher education as training for a research career. In this view, higher education is preparation for qualified scientists and researchers that would continuously develop the frontiers of knowledge. Quality within this viewpoint is more about research publications and transmission of ht academic rigor to do quality research.
(iii) Educational Administration: Higher education as the efficient management of teaching provision. Many strongly believe that teaching is the core of educational Institutions. Thus, higher education institutions focus on efficient management of teaching-learning provisions by improving the quality of teaching, enabling a higher completion rate among the students.
(iv) Participation in the development process: Higher education as a matter of extending life chances. In this view, higher education is seen as an opportunity to participate in the development process of the individual through a flexible, continuing education mode.
For citing this article use:
- Rao, L. P. (2014) ‘TQM in professional education A study of the proffessional colleges affiliated to Acharya Nagarjjuna Uniiversiitty AP Indiia’, Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10603/70894
- Report of Kothari Commission (1966), Govt. of India, pp.497-8
- UNESCO (1996) Learning : The Treasure Within (Report of the International Commission on Education to UNESCO for the Twenty First Century), Paris : UNESCO (Chair : Jacques Delors)
- Ronald Fitzgerald, TQM in Education, ezinearticles.com