Academic Alliances with overseas varsities great advantage to Indian students
Globally, when the higher education is witnessing exponential growth, governments across the world fuel their knowledge economies with skilled graduates, while India is no exception. However, like many other nations, India has paucity of places and a mismatch between graduate skills and what is need to power economic growth and jobs creation, writes Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University, London in an article that appeared in The Hindu. Overseas varsities have a greater role to play in meeting these challenges, at the same time they must help raise quality as well, writes the author.
The willingness of the Indian Government to open up opportunities for overseas varsities would be a commendable step as it strives to increase the number of university places and drive up quality. But India also needs innovation in education. Indian youth needs people, places and ideas that drive innovation, such as practice-based teaching methods and unique ways of conducting classes. The creativity that comes from the students just needs the right push to help them achieve their goal, the academician notes.
A robust registration of outcomes on a national platform will help in understanding the virtual success of all efforts. For instance, British higher education is admired across the globe for its high academic standards and the autonomy of its universities — autonomy which India is only just starting to recognise as crucial to high standards of scholarship. Good regulation can raise quality and encourage innovation, while also creating opportunities for Indian students to study for British degrees in India, Blackman writes.
Allowing overseas varsities to develop expertise and exchange knowledge in academic collaborations can be a great mutual advantage for Indian students, which will certainly help expanding in-country provision and bringing in innovation, ideation and niche knowledge.
For instance, he writes that the Middlesex University London’s academic partnership with KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, founded by Music Composer, AR Rahman, enables students to experiment with fusions of Indian and Western music techniques. Students who complete their Diploma at the Conservatory can progress to a full honours degree at Middlesex in London, but that should not be their only option. With KR Mangalam University, Middlesex is planning mutual recognition of degree programmes, joint degrees, mentoring, student and staff exchanges, internships and summer courses, Blackman pointed out.
India should welcome forging some such alliances with other high quality institutions. While many Indian students want the incredible experience of studying and working in foreign countries, many others want a less expensive or more convenient option of achieving a prestigious, skills-based degree in India. Others will opt for a combination of local and overseas study, he added.
Education is Key
Education is the key to economic and social progress, from high value-added industries to social justice and empowerment. While governments need to be vigilant of the practices that institutions are adopting, each institution must come up with a self assessment mechanism by unlocking the job market with the help of foreign universities. To develop and maintain the Indian education model, a working plan can metamorphose into an iconic programme that will last as a model to follow for years to come, Blackman concludes.
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