I spent 16 years in corporate before I got an offer from a University to join their HR department. While discussing the opportunity with my friends, I was highly discouraged to take up the job in education sector. I have been told that I am doing a hara-kiri. I heard everyone, but still took this leap of faith.
As per All India Survey for Higher Education (AISHE) for the year 2018-2019, there are 993 Universities, 39931 Colleges and 9190 stand-alone institutions. The total number of enrolment in higher education is merely 26.3% for the age group of 18 – 23 years. One of the biggest challenge faced by the sector is the paucity of people interested in working in education sector. According to AISHE 2018-2019, total number of teachers working in higher education in India are 14,16,299 with Pupil Teacher ratio of 29 in Universities and colleges.
The need for talented people in the sector is also emphasised under the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The recruitment, career development and career management of faculty members have always been on the back burner of the institutions and the NEP has highlighted this need. NEP targets the enrolment in higher education to improve to 50% by 2035. It has also mentioned the need to encourage the top Indian institutions to go global.
India has one of the largest higher education system, and the above statistics & facts build the case towards potential for high growth of education sector in India in coming future.
Traditionally, the Human Resource (HR) activities in higher education institutions (HEIs) has been managed either by the Registrar Office or by respective Head of the Departments. With the growth of private universities and colleges, the need to manage HR professionally has been identified and today many of the leading private universities have dedicated HR department where professionals are managing the strategic and day to day operations. Also, it is important to mention that of the 993 Universities, 385 are privately managed and most of these private Universities are highly focused on providing the best experience to their employees through best HR practices implemented by qualified HR professionals.
Today HR department of HEIs are working at the forefront to lead this growth and change. Below mentioned are three areas where I believe HR Professionals, working in the education Sector need to focus to
1. Strategic Partnership: Every sector has its own way of working including people issues and the operational challenges. It is very important for the HR professional to understand the functionality of the education sector, speak the language to align with the learned faculty members and showcase the value HR can bring to the table. For example, the recruitment of faculty members in the education sector is aligned with the semesters and does not happen round the year. This is an important aspect while preparing the manpower plan for the institution.
2. Talent Management: Gone are the days when people used to join education sector because either they didn’t get any other job, or they just want to work for the societal benefits. With the growth of the sector, talent attraction as well as talent retention has emerged as one of the major concerns for the HR professionals in education sector. It is important to understand the expectations of the faculty members and staff. HR professionals needs to design the benefits and policies to facilitate the recruitment as well as motivating the employees to stay in the respective institution. The benefits may include such as incentives for getting published in reputed journals or opportunities to pursue higher studies at discounted rates from the institution itself.
3. HR Analytics: Data has become an important part of HR professionals. HR analytics is as important in Higher education institutions as in any other company. Institutions participating in various rankings or applying for accreditations need proper employee data. The regulatory agencies such as University Grant Commission (UGC) or Bar Council of India (BCI) or the surveys like AISHE require employee data in the particular formats and hence it is important for HR professionals to manage and maintain the data properly. In today’s competitive world, HR is also required to analyse the data and report numbers such as foreign faculty working in the institution or the diversity ratio, which may help in planning and growth of the institution.
I have been working in education sector since last four years, and I have been enjoying each and every day of my working. I would definitely encourage people from my HR fraternity to join the HR department of the higher education institutions and participate as drivers of growth for the education sector.