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India's underqualified graduates
Once a luxury for many Indians, a degree or diploma is now a viable option for the country's growing middle class.

But India correspondent Stephanie March reports, while higher education has grown at warp speed, but the quality is not keeping up.


India's higher education sector is one of the largest in the world, catering for no fewer than 25 million students.

Once a luxury for many Indians, a degree or diploma is now a viable option for the country's growing middle class.

As a result, higher education has grown at warp speed.

But as India correspondent Stephanie March reports, the quality is not keeping up.
Transcript
STEPHANIE MARCH, REPORTER: When India became an independent nation six decades ago, the country had less than 700 diploma and degree institutions. Now it has 45,000. Twenty-thousand of those emerged in the past 10 years alone.

HIMANSHU AGGERWAL, ASPIRING MINDS: The capacity build up has been very, very quick. And to some extent, quality has not been a core centrepiece of that strategy. And I think if you grow that fast, it's typically hard to maintain high quality.

STEPHANIE MARCH: Himanshu Aggerwal is the CEO of Aspiring Minds, a Delhi company that assesses a graduate's employability and helps them to find a job that suits their skills. His company has evaluated more than a million graduates, and the statistics aren't promising.

HIMANSHU AGGERWAL: The graduates as a whole, we see close to 47 per cent employable, 53 per cent not employable.

STEPHANIE MARCH: One of the most popular courses in India is engineering. The country produces about 1 million engineering graduates each year. According to Himanshu Aggerwal's research, only 20 per cent of them are qualified to work in their chosen field.

The quality of higher education in India is poor. Accreditation for universities and colleges is voluntary, and a bill to regulate them has spent the past three years caught up in a parliamentary logjam.

HIMANSHU AGGERWAL: Students typically at the end of three years have no clue what was going to build their career and their life in the future is nowhere close to getting in there.

STEPHANIE MARCH: Akanksah Gupta and Vandana Negi are both studying engineering. Srikanth Raghavan is studying business education and Anish George is doing a bachelor of computer application. They all agree the quality of their education isn't ideal.

AKANKSAH GUPTA, STUDENT: It needs a lot of improvement in terms of the practical knowledge to be imparted, according to the new technologies that are coming up.

SRIKANTH RAGHAVAN, STUDENT: The goals were the course was really, really primitive. We were taught how to use spread sheets in Excel or how to use Microsoft Word. That is something a newborn child knows these days.

STEPHANIE MARCH: These students say the simplified curriculum has come about because colleges and universities are trying to cater for the masses.

ANISH GEORGE, STUDENT: Disgraceful for us. For me, the course is very easy. I'm generally interested in programming, and also I have always put in extra effort outside the curriculum. I have to read from foreign books and all, and that gives me an advantage over others.

STEPHANIE MARCH: This group of students is aware that they'll probably have to undertake further study to get into fields where they want to work.

(to students): Does that frustrate you, that you are going to spend three years at college studying hard and then you're not going to be able to enter the workforce, you need to do further work on your own? Do you think it should be different?

VENDANA NEGI, STUDENT: A lot of opportunities are there in IT sector as well as in other sectors also. It's like groom yourself, it's all about yourself; like how are you going to groom yourself according to your skills, according to technologies which you are going not use. It's not about the studies, it's about extra-curricular activities.

ANISH GEORGE: College is just a tag, it's doesn't help you very much. It's just there, you have a degree, that's it. What next?

AKANKSAH GUPTA: So you have to make that extra effort from your side. So you actually have to drive your career, where you want to see yourself.

STEPHANIE MARCH: That drive is something Himanshu Aggerwal says is not uncommon among the students he meets.

HIMANSHU AGGERWAL: What I can see clearly is the graduates in India are highly aspirational. And I can clearly see that they're leave no stone unturned to get themselves employable, which is a very positive sign.

STEPHANIE MARCH: With a working age population that's growing by 12 million a year, it's vital that these young Indians do become employable because India's economy is depending on it.

HIMANSHU AGGERWAL: We need to make these people employable, and that they can become assets to the economy, rather than be liabilities to be supported by the state.
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