He underlined the importance of competition, flexibility, liberal attitude towards ideas, private philanthropy and fundamental research as keys to achieving excellence in education. He said these five points were lessons to be learnt from the US experience to strengthen the higher education system in India.
Prof Summers announced Harvard Universitys intention to expand contacts with India and South Asia. He felt that India should stress on the development of both of its primary as well as higher education system. He referred to the fact that India attracted less than 1% of the total number of foreign students seeking higher education abroad, which was indicative of a huge untapped potential that exists in the country. He urged India to realise this unutilised potential as a prospective global education hub.
Addressing the summit, deputy chairman, Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia pointed out the need for a substantial rise in the public expenditure in higher education in India. He felt that the improvement in the higher education system could only be achieved through a balanced partnership between the public and private sector. This, in turn, called for increased private-sector participation along with a significant upgrading in the public education infrastructure, he added.
Mr Ahluwalia said the prevailing dysfunctionality of the incentive mechanism in the higher education system was a serious cause for concern.