By Minu Madlani
In line with National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 the University Grants Commission has formulated the draft resolution for the establishment of foreign universities in India. These guidelines subject to parliamentary approval will lay down the framework under which world renowned universities like Harvard, Stanford, Yale and others will be permitted to set up independent campuses in India. While this model is already followed in Shanghai and Dubai where the New York University has campuses. This will be a first for India.
Some of the prerequisites for these universities to enter the Indian market will be credibility in their home country and global rankings. Implying, that only the best and most popular universities will be able to establish themselves here. Giving quite a few Indian educational institutions a run for their money.
The Indian Education System
The Indian Higher Education System has been a topic of discussion for critics from quite some time now. There is a huge student population in India, an influx of which greatly limits opportunities to good education resulting in foreign universities becoming the obvious choice for meritorious or affluent students. Infact, according to data presented by the Education Ministry in the parliament, the number of students who go abroad to study annually has risen by over 68% in 2022. Though Indians going abroad to study has its share of benefits like international exposure, new ideas and global perspective; it is also disadvantageous since it results in loss of talent and considerable brain drain.
While foreign universities in India can help reduce this loss of talent and introduce healthy competition, it is also a wakeup call for Indian education institutions to up their ante and revamp themselves to be relevant amongst the new contemporaries.
In my opinion, here are some changes that can really help our home education system level the playing field with its foreign counterparts:
- Increase Investment:
A good educational institution needs state of the art facilities and space to host recreational and educational infrastructure. Naturally, this requires financial support from the government and other private players. Although there are some premier institutions in India that have these things already, there are exceedingly expensive making the idea of going abroad more value for money.
Hence, financial aid will help more Indian institutions provide the same experience as foreign universities at lesser costs so that they become more inclusive. Thus, becoming accessible for Indian talent from all walks of life.
- Curriculum Reforms:
The world around us is changing, and so are its demands. Indian educational institutions must acknowledge that and bring about considerable changes in their curriculum. Introduction of new courses like Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, impetus on skill based learning, having a flexible curriculum, credit based learning and driving focus towards more holistic development beyond numbers and class work will help bring good results.
The biggest advantage that foreign universities have over Indian institutions is that it gives students an opportunity to have a global career. It opens up doors to the world by helping students from different nationalities interact with each other and providing degrees which hold relevance globally. Though currently, leading privately helmed Indian Universities are also doing this by collaborating with varsities abroad and providing exchange programs – making this more mainstream and affordable will bring about visible results.
- Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Rankings:
Indian universities need to establish robust quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms to ensure that the education and research they offer meets international standards. This can help build confidence among students, faculty, and employers in the quality of education and research at Indian universities.
- Inclusivity and Diversity:
Even with all its transformation, Indian educational system still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusion and diversity. Financial aid and scholarships for deserving candidates, admitting students from across the world, providing equal opportunities and hiring faculty and staff from different cultures and backgrounds will help the campus become a more inclusive and vibrant space for students. Educational institutions also have to become free from religion, caste or gender bias and be looked upon as a safe space for students from all socio-economic backgrounds. Further, higher education institutions should also re-evaluating their admission criteria and introduce a selection system that is generalised, equitable and fair – something like the SATs or CETs.
The bottom Line
Revamping the Indian higher education system requires a multi-pronged approach that involves changes that are not only tangible but also intangible. It requires a mindset shift with regards to the traditional approach to education in order to be able to be open for newer ideas and innovation.
Nonetheless, there is certainly a visible ray of hope here. A lot of Indian universities have started taking a relook at their existing systems and are looking to change themselves to match international standards, albeit at a relatively high cost. Customised education, focus on research and innovation, industry-academia partnerships and strict accreditation parameters by the NAAC are just the tip of the iceberg here. By implementing these initiatives and more, Indian universities in the next few years can definitely compete with their global counterparts and provide a world-class education that is cost effective, wholesome and equally valuable in the global economy.
The author of this article is principal, KPB Hinduja College of Commerce and Economics. Views are personal.