During the past two decades, the bulk of the expansion in higher education has been in the self-financial private sector. Research output in these institutions is often questioned. Recently the AICTE has come out with a research policy framework document written in collaboration with clarivate Analytics. This document is entitled “ Aiming for excellence pathways to Institution advancement through Research”. The document lays three pre-requisites for research excellence namely a high concentration of faculty and student talent; abundant resources and conducive government policies. Unfortunately, all three are lacking in the case of the private sector. Faculty talent is limited; the attrition rate is very high. Security of job and liberal working conditions lure the teachers to public sector institutions The students’ capacity to pay is more important than his academic excellence as fee is the sole source of revenue generation. Teaching & placement are top priorities. Research is an added burden. Study leave is normally not granted. The periodic inspections (interestingly called peer teams) of the statutory bodies make it even worse. The end-Product is a plethora of sub-standard, cooked and inflated research output, presented solely with a view to getting good grades.
Under the circumstance, what kind of research policy should an institution, particularly in the private sector, follow? The answer lies in carefully looking at various objectives or purposes of research. These are as follows:
- It is helpful in improving teaching; the involvement of the student in research makes the classroom environment lively and participative.
- It is required for career advancement.
- It adds to the knowledge spectrum of the branch.
- Research can be revenue-generating in terms of an increased number of consultancy projects, copyrights, and patents.
- It helps in attracting government funding.
- Enhances personal and institutional reputation.
Keeping in view the limited intellectual capital of the private sector, Theoretical research which is totally innovative is rare- except only in case of some island of isolated, self-motivated brilliance. Similarly, the career advancement scheme is bound to produce sub-standard Ph.D. work & research outcomes. The industry rarely funds research activities in the private sector. Consultancy income is virtually negligible. Thus these institutions are best advised to encourage research which improves classroom teaching and encourages greater teacher-student participation. It will do away with the rote learning system and shall be twice – blessed as it will increase the employability of the students. This kind of research can be incorporated in the teaching schedule and thus the faculty will not feel anything like extra-burden. It does not require any special or additional resource. These institutions should strongly face the statutory bodies and their expert/peer teams with the research output mainly and only conducted with a view to improving teaching-no refereed journals; no cooked-up impact factor, no nothing. We are sure that the statutory bodies shall take cognizance of this in due course of time and will not measure all educational institutions with the same yardstick.