Foreign faculty in Indian institutes – Globalization of class rooms

The recent phenomenon of appointing international faculty in higher education institutions in India is circumstantially due to globalization and partially due to the extreme paucity of qualified quality teaching professionals for Indian institutions. With reports suggesting that 30-40% of faculty position in Indian institutions are lying vacant compounded by complacency rampant among the teachers, appointing foreign faculty in Indian institutions has the ability to create competence in teaching and internationalization of the Indian higher education system.

The demand for international faculty in Indian institutions and the resultant influx of foreign faculty in recent times has been due to the pursuit of academic excellence by most of these institutes. These institutions are driven by the belief that by hiring foreign nationals would make help them get better rankings in global listings of top colleges as internationalization of campus is good for rankings. Until recently the foreign faculty in Indian institutions was primarily on faculty exchange programs or as a part of international visiting faculty. The institutions have always desired to hire foreign faculty or faculty with global experience; it is only recently that they have been making concerted efforts to market themselves internationally. Comparative salaries and global competition has also successfully driven international teaching talent to Indian institutes.

Building institutes of academic excellence is a time-taking and incremental process. Once an institution has achieved a certain level of reputation, maintaining it at that level is also quite a challenge. Thus, even the best universities are in constant quest to access indicators of prestige like knowledge, research and talent.  And while evaluating the indicators does one realize the importance of faculty in making an institution. International teacher researchers bring academic excellence well within reach of the Indian institutions.

The Indian institutions both private and state funded are gradually seeing an increase in applications from faculty based out of India for they also are of the belief that the foreign faculty would enable them to strengthen and enhance research visibility in international forums.

Raging debates in favour of and against appointment of foreign faculty in Indian institutes has thrown up a number of points in favour of appointment of international faculty. Though the debate veers between obsequiousness and arrogance the middle path allows us to move to a quality based system where the institute would gain tangible outcomes.

Firstly, it is a belief that by bringing faculty from abroad would catapult Indian institutions to ‘Top 100’ global rankings. Globalization has had a major influence on Indian higher education with the ease of mobility the institutes are demonstrating greater international strategies simply by the numbers of international faculty. No Indian institution has featured among the top 100 in global rankings, which is a worrisome obstacle and concerted effort is required to change the situation.

Secondly, our outdated, rigid curricula and the absence of in course content and skill development will be infused with fresh viewpoints from different cultures and value system.

Thirdly, compared to the West lack of inquiry based learning and early researcher skills is limiting the capacity of Indian institutions to engage in vital research and innovation activity. India is not producing enough PhDs and very few students in India as compared to other countries in the West are enrolled as postgraduate researchers. But recently due to the government’s outlook towards internationalization and India’s transition from an inward gazing scientific culture to one increasingly characterized by external engagement Indian institutions are hosting foreign faculty in stable, long term posts more frequently than ever before.

Lastly and not in any way lesser than the others is the inclusion of foreign faculty in the Indian education system would finally render the teaching space market driven in the future. It will increase the quality and the competitive spirit within the Indian academic community as we are likely to see more and more academics who are genuinely interested in the profession and not those who were led to teaching by default.

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