ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Professional Development of Higher Education Faculty in India

Framework and Fault Lines

Professional development of faculty of higher education in India started formally with the establishment of academic staff colleges in 1986. Since the last three decades, this domain has undergone several changes in its format, objectives and content, but has not developed into a robust and professional area with deep research foundations. A critical look at the decisions taken by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the University Grants Commission reveals the reasons behind the current chaotic scenario. Policy changes, and the establishment and enrichment of dedicated nodal centres of faculty development, are essential to address the pressing concerns.


Much before it came into its own in Western countries, faculty development in higher education was discussed in India right in the first Education Commission after independence, and refresher courses were recommended for intermediate college teachers “to extend, refurnish and bring up to date their knowledge” (Ministry of Education 1962: 84). Pragmatic suggestions for logistics accompanied the recommendation of the Report of the University Education Commission 1948–49 (Ministry of Education 1962). Later, the second Education Commission (1964–66) too ass­erted the need of an inexperienced teacher to learn the mechanics of the teaching profession in a scientific way, and questi­oned the assumption of inherent teaching competency (Ministry of Education 1966).

In spite of the early attention, the implementation was quite late, and it was in 1986–87 that the University Grants Commission (UGC) accepted the recommendations of the National Policy on Education (1986) and the consequent Programme of Action (1992), which outlined very clearly the need, process and admini­strative dimensions of faculty development (MHRD 1992). Forty-eight academic staff colleges (ASCs) in different universities were established as ins­titutes fully funded by the UGC for faculty development, through in-service training programmes. The number of ASCs since then has gone up to 66 ASCs in 25 states and union territories, with a maximum of six colleges in Andhra Pradesh, and no colleges in the four north-eastern states of Sikkim, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. ASCs are the only instruments available in the higher education set-up where fresh postgraduate and National Eligibility Test (NET) ­qualified students—recruited as assistant professors—get a preliminary and basic understanding of the science of classroom teaching (Dutta 2016).

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Updated On : 5th Apr, 2021
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