To look into problems of Indian universities that had cropped up in the pre- dependence period just before 1947, the then University Education mission under the chairmanship of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was appointed.
The Commission was required ‘to suggest improvements and extension that may be desirable to suit the present and future need of the country’.
It was felt that in the British regime, university education was unnecessarily restricted and confined to a limited sphere. Its main aim had become nothing but the preparation of students for passing examinations.
The country wanted a new system of higher education which could develop knowledge and critical thinking rather than mechanical passing of examinations.
The old system was producing a large production of indifferently educated graduates of arts who could make no contribution to economic growth and national development.
The Commission surveyed the whole field of Higher education and its correlates. After surveying all the features and conditions of the old system of higher education, the Commission concluded that the general dissatisfaction with falling standards of teaching and examinations and with the conduct of university administration and control was justified.
The Commission was happy to note the deep general awareness in the masses, of the significant role higher education could play in schemes of national development and national well-being. It was distressed to observe the inadequacy in the present position of higher education.
The problems of higher education that required an urgent and immediate solution were:
(a) Determining of aims and objectives of higher education afresh because preparing students for passing an examination was no worthy aim,
(b) Gearing up higher education to the man-power needs,
(c) Improving administration and control of universities,
(d) Financing of higher education in the country,
(e) Improving the standards of teaching and research,
(f) Improving the examination system so that proper emphasis may be laid on critical thinking rather than on mechanical memorisation,
(g) Deciding a common medium of higher education throughout the country,
(h) Introducing religious instruction in universities,
(i) Providing professional education,
(j) Examining the causes of student unrest and its remedies.