NEW DELHI: A global survey of the academic community on the leadership challenges faced by the Indian higher education system has revealed that the sector is facing shortage of capable leaders with 92% of the respondents saying that this trend is expected to continue until 2020. Just 5% of the respondents said that there was no paucity of leaders.
The results of the survey were unveiled at the Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI), a national body of over 500 higher education institutions, summit on developing transformational leaders for Indian higher education on Thursday.
Nearly 81% of the respondents pointed to a serious gap between the existing pool and the requirement of academic leaders to meet 12th Five Year Plan and India Vision 2020 for Higher Education sector. Only 18% respondents said that there is moderate gap between the expected demand and the available pool.
When asked about "the critically important traits of a transformational leader in Indian Higher Education", 80% of the respondents cited "Futuristic Approach to Development" as the most important trait of the transformational leader, followed by " Understanding of Higher Education Ecosystem" by 57% of the respondents.
"Exceptional academic record and research orientation", as well as "strong administrative ability and relationship orientation" were seen as equally essential traits with half the respondents voting for these.
Academics also felt that high professional integrity, ethical standards, global exposure and ability to change were some of the other requisite qualities of a transformational leader.
More than one-third of the respondents felt that being an academician was not a popular career choice as it lacked adequate mentoring. Lack of academic leadership, guidance and training (60%) and low salary (50%) were the other reasons why the education sector failed to attract promising academics.
The survey conducted in early February 2013, received 111 responses from thought leaders, chancellors, vice chancellors, directors, deans, principals and professors located in 37 locations globally, including USA, UK, Dubai, Germany, Australia, France and Hungary. In India, the respondents came from 22 Indian cities including Delhi-NCR, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Manipal.
The survey examined why Indian higher education institutes are unable to attract overseas Indians with exceptional academic background and proven leadership skills. Three-fourths of the respondents cited highly bureaucratic Indian systems and siloed approach of stakeholders as the key reason. Poor appreciation of academics and perception that academicians in the higher education system have low integrity were other reasons why the reverse brain drain wasn't taking place.
"The results of the survey on leadership challenges in the higher education system are alarming and demand a serious attention by political leadership, policy makers, chancellors and vice chancellors," said Dr G Vishwanathan, president, EPSI and chancellor of Vellore institute of Technology University.
The respondents added that low brand-value of India, low or superficial orientation to research and development, poor compensation and incentives, high levels of corruption in institutions and society, and management myopia were reasons why well-known academicians did not consider India as a potential destination.
To bridge the gaps for leadership challenge in higher education systems the questionnaire proposed to the respondents if experienced corporate sector, civil and defence services professionals could fill the leadership gap in the higher education institutions. Eight out of 10% felt that managing knowledge-based institutions is different from other organisations, even though 20% of the respondents commended them for their superior ability to manage the institutions.