‘Students and employers will begin to question the value of a university degree’

Education is set for massive transformation as technology is ushering in a new era in the field of learning, said T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman Aarin Capital. In the new scheme of things the student would be at the core and would decide as well as create her/his own degree at one’s own pace and medium. Mr. Pai, former Infosys CFO, and who is also Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services, explains what Education 4.0 is all about. Excerpts:

What is Education 4.0 and why is it important?

Education 4.0 is putting students at the heart of the educational experience and creating individual learning experiences. Education 1.0 was the traditional method of students going to a Gurukul in India. Then came the universities as in Takshila and Nalanda in India.

Then Universities came up in Europe. Then you had the industrial revolution which demanded a large number of people who could be trained. There, a student read books, sat down and listened to the teachers. They had a course, they had a curriculum and then they obtained a certificate to earn a livelihood.

In Education 4.0, students can create a degree of their own, are able to do a degree in nuclear science [combining it] with biotechnology, with dance, with music or with fundamental physics or something like that.

The mix and match is available and can be done offline or online. A student can sit at home do a course online and get a degree.

So, in Education 4.0 students can design their own course, learn offline or online and they can also make sure that they can learn at their own pace. At the end of it, they obtain a certificate that they can carry to job interviews.

How is it panning out?

It’s already happening in the world. Many students will ask themselves why they need a university degree? Why can’t they do things on their own?

Employers will ask what the value of a university degree is? It is happening but slowly in India because lots of people have a common education system and they still want a degree. We see change all over the world and in next 5-10 years, we see acceleration and an increase in people taking such certification.

Will things change in India in next 2 to 3 years?

Totally. I see change very slowly but I see a time when many people are well settled. Then we ask the question why I should send my child to college when I can educate him at home and get a certification.

Will Education 4.0 see reality by 2020?

I think around the world it will pick up by 2020 and in India by 2025. Our problem is the government. Our problem is the UGC. And also remember we are long behind the curve… in America, 70% of people go to college, in Germany 80% and in Japan 88% of people go to college.

How do you enhance the quality of education?

For that we need to see which are the best institutes in the world and what the catalyst is. The best institutes are Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge and they are so good because they decide what they want to do.

They decide on courses, examinations… No Government and no regulator interference. The U.S. and U.K. governments just give money. We need to give full freedom to the top 100 education institutions and in the next five years we will see a change. We also need public funding for research. The government should have a ₹5,000 crore annual fund for research and all universities should bid for it.

Has the government brought about any reform in the education sector?

The biggest disappointment of the NDA government is that they have not done much in the education sector. Only now since Prakash Javdekar has come in do we see a focus on institutions of national importance

We have not seen many institutions like Manipal….

It is because there is control. Government is not giving approval to private sector people. Those who gave bribes got the approval. At one point, there were 4,500-5,000 engineering colleges in one year. How did they come up? They all gave money. The system is rotten, it’s corrupt, and the bad people got it. Now, we are getting good universities. Jindal has put up a University, now Manipal has been there. And 5 to 6 people are coming up. I think Prime Minister should talk to billionaires of this country to come and up set up a University by putting ₹2000 crore each of their own money because you are a billionaire and can afford to spend.

Can we have Oxford or Cambridge type institutions in India?

We can. Give our universities research and see the magic in 5 years. Give them money for research and ask them to compete. Create a kitty of ₹5000 crore of public money. State and Central Government spend ₹40 lakh crore in a year on education.