Higher Education India. Vedanta University to revamp Indian Education

World class universities require world class professors and students and a culture to sustain and stimulate them. A clearly differentiated academic system has not been created in India yet but yes inception of Universities like Vedanta University will at least start the process, and once the system starts, there will be nobody to stop it.

Online PR News – 26-February-2010 – – In the 21st century information and knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you are. To compete successfully in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, India needs enough universities that can support sophisticated research. Right now India has around 196 Universities and 121 deemed Universities. According to University Grants Commission (UGC), India needs around 1500 more Universities with adequate research facilities by the end of 2015 to compete in the global market.

India is rushing towards the economic success and modernization, counting on high-tech industries such as information technology and biotechnology to propel the nation to prosperity along with industrialization that banks on the natural deposits of India with adequate technical support.

India's main competitors especially China and South Korea are investing in large and differentiated higher education systems that can cater quality education to the students who in turn will add to the growth of their nation. They are providing access to large numbers of students at the bottom of the academic system while at the same time building some research-based universities that are able to compete with the world's best institutions. The recent London Times Higher Education Supplement ranking 2008 of the world's top 200 universities included six in China, four in Hong Kong, three in South Korea, and two in India [IIT Delhi (Rank 154) & IIT Bombay (Rank 174)]. After taking a look at this data, it is clearly visible that how far India is lagging. These countries are positioning themselves for leadership in the knowledge based economies of the coming era and India also has to do the same to match that level.

There was a time when countries could achieve economic success with cheap labour and low-tech manufacturing. But now, large-scale development requires a sophisticated and knowledge based economy. India has chosen that path, but has a long way to go. India has significant advantages in the 21st century knowledge race. It has a large higher education sector the third largest in the world in student numbers, after China and the United States. It uses English as a primary language of higher education and research. But to cater them, there are a small number of high quality institutions, departments, and centres that can form the basis of quality sector in higher education. India educates approximately 10 per cent of its young people in higher education compared with more than half in the major industrialised countries and 15 per cent in China.

At present, the world-class institutions in India are mainly limited to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and perhaps a few others such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. These institutions cater to only around 1 per cent of the student population. Most of the India's colleges and universities lack in high end research facilities. Under investment in libraries, information technology, laboratories, and classrooms make it very difficult to provide top-quality instruction or engage in cutting-edge research. This gap has to be bridged if we want to speed up in our way to development.

Even the small top tier of higher education faces serious problems. Many IIT graduates, well trained in technology, have chosen not to contribute their skills to the burgeoning technology sector in India. Perhaps half leave the country immediately upon graduation to pursue advanced study abroad and most do not return. A stunning 86 per cent of students in science and technology fields from India who obtain degrees in the United States do not return home immediately following their study. A corps of dedicated and able teachers work at the IITs and IIMs, but the lure of jobs abroad and in the private sector makes it increasingly difficult to lure the best and brightest to the academic profession. Few in India are thinking creatively about higher education in India.

Now as India strives to compete in a globalised economy in areas that require highly trained professionals, the quality of higher education becomes increasingly important. So far, India's large educated population base and its reservoir of at least moderately well-trained university graduates have permitted the country to move ahead. But the competition is fierce. China in particular is heavily investing in improving its best universities with the aim of making a small group of them world class in the coming decade, and making a larger number internationally competitive research universities. Other Asian countries are also upgrading higher education with the aim of building world class-universities. To compete successfully in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, India needs enough universities with high end research facilities that will not only produce bright graduates but can also support sophisticated research in a number of scientific and scholarly fields and produce at least some of the knowledge and technology needed for an expanding economy. How can India build a higher education system that will permit it to join developed economies? The newly emerging private sector in higher education is the only hope.

Vedanta University is one such initiative taken by Anil Agarwal Foundation. Once completed, it will provide world class education to 1, 00, 000 students in 95 academic disciplines. It will also provide industry linked high-end research facility that is the need of the time. With an estimated investment of more than 15,000 crores, supported by a thriving ecosystem of knowledge in a breathtaking physical environment, the not-for-profit University will transform Orissa into a primary centre for knowledge in India; the institution will join the ranks of the world's greatest Universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford.

Vedanta University envisages establishing a research park which will promote science, technology, and biotechnology based entrepreneurship, support an innovation-driven incubator, and provide enabling infrastructure that will house the research and development facilities of hi-tech firms eager to leverage the talent pool of the University. The park will serve as the foundation for an economic engine that develops around the university. The business incubator will help startups establish their enterprises and provide the necessary linkages for technical, managerial and financial support. Vedanta University will invite leading enterprises to establish R&D activities in the research park. The research park will establish a network of government and private laboratories as well as academic units at the University. It hopes to become the undisputed national hub of research-based entrepreneurship; the park will generate intellectual property and revenue both for the university and the associated businesses. The research park has great potential to contribute significantly to India's GDP and to the intellectual and economic climate of Orissa. It is very essential to mention here that it's only because of Stanford University that Silicon Valley came into existence which is now probably world's biggest IT R & D hub.(For more information on Silicon Valley please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Valley). The point here is that the same kind of thing can also happen in India.

But what difference can one University make. The government should welcome more such initiatives. If at all, we can have at one University like the proposed Vedanta University standard, then the future is ours and there is no doubt regarding it. We can match and compete with other Asian countries and the dream to be the world's best economy won't be that difficult to achieve. In addition to all this, we can retain the home grown talents to go abroad for higher education.

World class universities require world class professors and students and a culture to sustain and stimulate them. A clearly differentiated academic system has not been created in India yet but yes inception of Universities like Vedanta University will at least start the process, and once the system starts, there will be nobody to stop it.

India cannot build internationally recognized research oriented universities overnight, but the country has the key elements in place to begin and sustain the process. India will need to create a dozen or more universities that can compete internationally to fully participate in the new world economy. Without these universities, India is destined to remain a back bencher.

Source: http://www.indiaeducationdiary.in

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