Higher Education 4.0 – Challenges & Sustenance


By Dr. Sunil Rai
Vice Chancellor, MIT ADT University, Pune 

The Higher Education (HE) system has evolved through the ages to serve the current and immediate future needs of the society. The first formal version of higher Education HE 1.0 that addressed the needs of industrial society focusing on efficient manufacturing and quality, served the cause till the late 60s. The next 3 decades (up to late 80s) saw HE 2.0 which focused on integrating markets and services across the globe. HE 3.0 which started establishing itself towards the end of last century and is serving till date focuses on digitization of the entire value chain including governance and banking. Each stage built on its predecessor focused on creation of quality jobs and markets and realisation on higher levels of efficiency and economy.

The world and particularly India have achieved high levels of efficiency of production, serving markets and financial margins in the service dominated global, digital economy. The HE 4.0 therefore needs to go through a total renaissance and reformation of the education world. The challenge of HE 4.0 is to prepare youth for “job creation” than the existing focus of “job seeking”. Based on several successful experiences of the five large economies of today: USA, China, Japan, India, and UK. The pillars of sustained growth is innovation and exploring the unexplored in vast domains of energy, health, agriculture, transportation, education and entertainment; Exploration of multiple (in one plant) methods of unconventional energy production, diagnostic and cure through Nano technologies, vertical farming, hybrid vehicles, self-learning digital systems and merging of art and animation.

Three approaches are suggested and focus areas for educators dealing in development and delivery of HE 4.0, these are the 3 R’s of ‘Relevance’ ‘Rigor’ ‘Relearning’. The challenge of HE 4.0 is to develop curriculum and delivery systems that are relevant to the region, economic area and level of economic development, maturity of markets and aspiration of the society. If the aspirations of the society are met then the current challenges of migration of people from rural to semi urban and semi urban to urban thereby stopping decay of cities and towns and issues of congestion and equitable use of resources can be met to a large extent.

This would also address the evils of society leading to child labour, suppression of women and creation of anti-social antagonist elements. The curriculum and delivery therefore necessarily develop job creators. This is particularly relevant to India which is going to have the largest youth population in the world which is also 60% of the national population. Conventional education up to HE 3.0 can only develop job seekers which will not serve the cause of nation and society development.

Having understood the importance of creating entrepreneur the next agenda before educators is to develop the rigor of curriculum and delivery to develop entrepreneurs from the region and for the region. This is easier said than realised. It’s about time that educators go beyond the conceptual theories of entrepreneurial education. The motive is to develop right attitude, right skills and right eco system to create and sustain entrepreneurial ventures.

Such an education has to be more practise oriented, learner centric and collaborative (technology, management, regulatory, financial systems etc.) the rigor has to be in developing delivery structures but more importantly monitoring and evaluation systems that can guarantee proof of learning with a fair degree of confidence. This is where larger attention of creating frame works has to be given to creating frame works that will comprehensively and continuously access the development of entrepreneurial traits. It may be mentioned here once again that such frameworks has to be relevant to the targeted vision and business areas and that there may not be one ‘framework fits all’ scenario.

The pace of change in geopolitical scenario, aspirations of global society and advances of technology and science will make it almost inescapable that the beneficiaries of HE 4.0 have to continuously and regularly unlearn and relearn. It will not be wrong to say that ‘sustained successes’ will be directly proportional to ‘ability and speed of relearning’. The challenges how one builds features in the curriculum and delivery that make relearning a second nature of students.

HE 4.0 as proposed in this write up is here to stay and serve the needs of education for the society whilst frameworks of curriculum and delivery matching the 3 R’s suggested here can be achieved, what will remain a challenge will be to convince the parents to encourage their children to become job creators.


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