Tertiary education strategies involving masters and doctoral-level qualifications should include some degree of local context and not be based solely on international standards or those of elite institutions in the West.
THE media and blogosphere are abuzz with opinions disparaging the value of several master’s and doctoral level qualifications.
Articles published in respectable publications such as Nature, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes have in the recent past set the tone of this debate, casting doubts about the “return on investment” (RoI) of higher degrees.
These RoI-based discussions seem to focus on the socio-economic circumstances of the developed countries.
These discussions do not reflect the higher education priorities of the rapidly developing parts of the world.
Higher education strategies in developing countries must be based on the ground realities obtained there and not transferred from that of a developed country.
While global standards of educational excellence are fine, there must be a degree of adaptation to the local context.
I shall illustrate this through two examples drawn from India and Malaysia respectively, deriving from those examples, two simple propositions for further debate.
Let us consider MBA-like degrees in India. There are over 2,400 institutions offering such degrees (3,300 by another reckoning), currently targeting a pool of about 400,000 potential applicants every year (both fresh graduates and working executives, in more or less equal numbers).
In India, about 25 institutions offering MBA-like degrees belong to the top-tier, accommodating about 4,000 new students, who are the top-performing students in various entrance tests, every year.
The next 75 institutions constitute a middle-tier, accommodating about 9,000 new students every year. This leaves a vast majority of applicants (around 387,000) who could not make it to one of the top- or middle-tier institutions.
by Prof. D. P. Dash.