Speechs (Text)

Destination India: National Conference on Making India a Preferred Hub of Higher Education

January 28-29, 2020

Destination India: National Conference on Making India a Preferred Hub of Higher Education

PUNE (28-29 January 2020)

Organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), In collaboration with Symbiosis International University, PUNE and Savitri bai Phule PUNE University, PUNE

(An outline of the address by Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President ICCR at the inaugural session of the conference)


Agenda for Knowledge Leadership

An Approach

1. One has to realise the overall and multi dimensional importance of India becoming a hub of higher education. Our efforts, in this process would add great value to our academic institutional establishments as per the global standards of knowledge era.

2. We also would be hugely adding to our soft power potential.

3. Efforts also needed from within India and from abroad. Influencing global educational opinion- making, forms a critical part of our agenda.

4. Concerted efforts with collective resoluteness on the part of all actors supported by a strong political will is the need of the hour. A Task Force with a cut role and plan for time bound implementation.

In order to achieve these goals, let’s ask ourselves a few questions to understand the practicability of the goals to be achieved. These questions are, divided in three segments. The first segment is about examining the practicability of Restructuring Academic Courses.  This is followed by Administrative Measures and lastly some Promotional Activities.


Restructuring Academic Courses

1. Can we evolve a new category of academic courses as International Courses where there are stringent rules and regulations pertaining to content as well as conduct of courses, instructional methodology and overall assessment to move closer to the global benchmarking.  Such courses could be across many Universities and agencies like NAAC or UGC can evaluate them and accord the status of an International Course.

2. Can certain Universities and Institutions be earmarked, with the help of NAAC and UGC as Institutes Recommended for International Students (IRIS)? Would that promote more quality orientation and do away with possibility of spurious elements spoiling our well-intentioned efforts? IRIS Institutions will be mandated to maintain a particular standard of academic courses, appoint counsellors for foreign students, have ability to showcase their institution as an attractive destination abroad as also already have adequate infrastructural facilities to take care of logistical needs.

3. Can we establish an Indian Network of International Education (INIE) with participation of all IRIS institutions, partner institutions from abroad and institutes or organisations like ICCR and UGC, AICTE etc.?

4. Can we ensure greater participation of quality private institutions, institutions of specialised education like oceanography or space sciences and Indology as well?

5. How can our short term courses in what could be named as Traditional Indian Knowledge Systems (TIKS) that may include Veda, Upnishads, Bharat Natyam or similar classical dances and classical music, Ayurveda and Yog as also Indian culinary and cuisine be made more structured, more academically standardised and with greater ease of access? Can we have a mechanism by way of which any of TIKS Short Term courses could be made available as an elective in the form of an incentive to those who are interested?

6. Can we explore a greater role for Distance Education at the elementary level in the segment of Traditional Indian Knowledge Systems (TIKS) with a specific role for Indian embassies and high commissions as well?

7. Can we explore the possibility of introducing some Hybrid Courses where a foreign student enrolling for Engineering or Technology also has the liberty of taking a short course in TIKS Subjects for which the student could get additional credits ?

8. Can we share our deep insights in to Democratic  Governance and Cultural Harmony/ Coherence as Knowledge Products and establish them through an institutional device in the form of International Institute of Democratic Governance and Indian Institute of Cultural Harmony where courses specially designed for foreign students could be conducted?

9. Can we also introduce a Guru-Shishya system for life long teaching and learning especially for TIKS subjects for a more sustained and seamless pursuance of an academic programme?

10. For the benefit of all the expatriates as well as diplomatic staff engaged in India as also others who curious about India, can we experiment and introduce an yearlong PGDP in Indian Society, Culture and Democracy (PGDP in ISCD) for which a common syllabus could be evolved?

11. Can we explore the possibility of restructuring of some courses with the facility of sharing of semesters in Indian institutions and foreign institutions through mutual agreements?

12. Can we Introduce Indian Standard English Proficiency Test or (ISEPT) and a similar test if needed for Hindi and other Indian languages, before awarding admissions? Indian embassies or ICCR Centres can also conduct preparatory classes for this test! This course will, among other things; cover major aspects of introduction to TIKS as well.


Administrative Measures

1. Can the HRD Ministry, with the help of Home Ministry establish a Central Data Gathering Mechanism to have proper record of all foreign students in various institutions and for various courses ? Also, can the Ministry annually prepare a Hand Book incorporating a wide range of recognised courses ( International Courses) and IRIS Institutions ?

2. Can such IRIS institutions be also mandated to provide facilities like a foster-family for every foreign student every year?

3. Can we earmark certain institutions and provide them with a grant for building on-campus International Hostels where continental food is easily available?

4. Can we have a system that would encourage corporates, think tanks and even some NGOs sponsoring some scholarships and fellowships reserved for foreign students for specific courses being conducted in IRIS Institutions?


Promotional Actions

1. Can institutions successfully attracting quality foreign students from across the globe be encouraged to have a healthy competition within them with some element of incentivisation introduced to best host institutions annually ?

2. Can we prepare a comprehensive plan that would enable all of us to tell the global student population as to what value they are likely to add while studying in India? Can we explore the possibility of ensuring and then presenting to the world that like health sciences, even in engineering or management science, studying in India exposes a student to complex situations, thereby facing a student some unique challenges that he or she may not be facing elsewhere ?

3. Can various Ministries and Departments come together and annually to organise India Knowledge Road Show in key centres all over the world where we as a nation collectively show case our institutional prowess and attract students ?

4. Can we come out with an Anthology of Experience-based Articles penned by Alumni of Indian Universities so that prospective students can understand the value that Indian institutions add in the process of learning ?

5. Can we and should we promote certain institutions to host students from certain parts of the world by way of creating a more culturally conducive climate through providing continent-specific or culture-specific facilitation, like  say an annually held African Film Festival or Latin American Food Festival etc .