Many premier institutions are looking overseas for meeting faculty shortage and, therefore, the trend to hire Indian professors settled abroad has been on the rise.
With the faculty shortage at more than 30% and mounting, the trend to hire Indian professors settled abroad has been on the rise. They bring with them not just the required experience, but also raise the quality and spirit of competition, says Kalpesh Banker
India is operating at more than 30 per cent faculty shortage in the higher education sector. The demand-supply gap and the teacher-student ratio in the colleges and universities in the light of an increasing young population opting for higher education are widely visible. Institutions like IITs/IIMs have increased and the student intake has also risen. Overall IITs are operating at approximately 35 per cent, IIMs at 25 per cent, NITs at 29 per cent and Central Universities at 38 per cent faculty shortage. Institutions are unable to meet yearly hiring targets leading to shortage year on year. Retiring professors add to this increasing shortage.
The lack of attractiveness for the academic jobs and longer cycle time for preparing faculty adds to the woes. In vocation-based courses like design, architecture, law, etc, there is additional talent crunch for qualified and experienced faculty.
Leadership and decision-making issues related to hiring of faculty is a prime reason behind faculty shortage. In private education space, Indian higher education has witnessed considerable consolidation over last two to three years, resulting in stronger players to become big and weaker players to fight for survival.
Due to this, good qualified faculties from institutions are available in the job market and that eases faculty shortage challenge of better institutions. But this supply is not a permanent solution for faculty shortage as this will dry down in a year or two.
In private premier institutions, the focus remains on dynamic leadership and preference is given to faculty between the age group of 40 and 50. While taking hiring decision, preference is also given to faculty with some amount of managerial experience from the corporate world. Due to talent shortage, faculty salaries in good private institutions have increased.
Many premier institutions are looking overseas for meeting faculty shortage and many noted institutions can boast of teachers from outside the country. Indian origin faculties from overseas in the age group of 35 to 55 are enthusiastic about coming back and the job market has witnesses an increased number of queries from applicants for suitable positions. A study of FT100 business schools shows more than 900 faculties are of Indian origin.
A huge gap between Indian and global top has been observed in terms of quality and it is believed that the international faculty can help to bring the learning and experience to upgrade the standards in the country. Foreign faculty generally comes with global linkages and network, which helps Indian institution in international tie-ups. The rise in brand value of the institution with international faculty helps in improving student admissions.
Additionally, academic diversity is an important criterion in most of the university rankings. Globally bench-marked and professionally managed new age institutions where leadership team has international exposure aggressively look for international faculties. Top-ranked Indian institutions with good financials look for faculties from abroad to maintain their leadership as progressive institutions. International faculties are key elements in global positioning for institutions looking for global spots.
Indian origin faculties teaching in the US and European Union tend to understand the Indian culture, the education system, and other challenges better than their foreign counterparts. They tend to better manage with the infrastructure and limited resources.
To solve the problem of faculty shortage, it is important to spread awareness regarding the benefits of academic careers, work-life balance, respect and recognition of the job, international exposure, and youthfulness of academic culture, among other benefits and perks. Institutions need to focus on branding as preferred employer - branding campaign than just a hiring advertisement, extend the student exchange tie-ups into faculty exchange tie-ups, among others.
Established institutions, specifically IITs and IIMs, should focus on locating their alumni in academic profession across the globe and adopt professional recruitment channels by closely working with specialised search firms. And last but not the least, gear up to hire and retain international academic resources with focus on competitive salary structure, infrastructure, work culture, and growth prospects. Indian Government has also launched an ambitious project Global Initiative of Academic Networks with a plan to invite 1,000 US academicians and researchers for teaching in Indian central Government-aided institutions.
Besides globalisation, there is extreme paucity of qualified quality teaching professionals. Foreign faculty is considered to create competence in teaching. Hiring them will make the institutions get better rankings in global listings. International teacher-researchers bring academic excellence. They help strengthen and enhance research visibility in international forums. The outdated, curricula and the absence of in-course content and skill development is expected to get a new outlook.
Besides increasing the quality and the competitive spirit, it will also see academics genuinely interested in the profession and not just by default.
(The writer is co-founder and managing partner, EduShine Advisory Group, New Delhi)