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Higher Education Reaches A Higher Mark!

Partnering with business will become increasingly important for colleges and universities. Not only does this give institutions access to motivated students, but it also helps enterprise attract, and retain, a skilled workforce.

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Reimagining India’s higher education continued to be the core theme of the government at the Centre in 2015. However, with the various pulls, pressures and financial limitations, it stopped short of being disruptive – something that the industry hopes will be a cornerstone in the coming year.

Digitisation and advancements in all spheres of education changed the face of higher education to accommodate newer formats and trends which are reflective of an advanced and globally relevant education. On the other hand, global universities are looking at India as a fertile ground for innovations and experimentations. From introduction of digital tools, to inclusion of international curriculum and to exploring opportunities of introducing joint courses, they are being well received in India’s metros and far and wide mini-metros. The new motto of the government in higher education is: Access, Equity, Excellence, a vision that aims to transform the education delivery. With Government’s focus on Swachh Bharat, there is an attempt to inculcate ‘Swachh Education’ too.

The new government is also adding impetus to this change by emphasising on the vision of Digital India and initiatives like the Skill India mission which aim for result oriented education to enhance employability of the young Indian workforce. While this is the macro picture of the changes Indian education has seen through the last 2-3 years, one can easily highlight some specific trends which are revolutionizing the way India looks at education. Consider this:

* The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore has become the first Indian institution to enter the Top 100 universities ranking in engineering and technology, published by The Times Higher Education of London.

* Five Indians, namely Prof. Vijay Govindarajan, Prof. Pankaj Ghemawat, Prof. Subir Chowdhury, Dr. Nirmalaya Kumar and Prof. Anil K Gupta have been named among the Top 50 management thinkers from 10 countries in the Thinkers 50 2015 global ranking, which is published every two years.

* Growing FDI showed high degree of public, private and international interest in the Indian Education sector:

– Venture capital fund Acumen has invested in two Hyderabad-based education start-ups-Ignis Careers (US$ 250,000) and SEED (US$ 650,000)-working in the low-cost school education space.The India Educational Investment Fund (IEIF), an early stage impact investment fund focused on the educational sector funded by Dell Foundation, has made its first two investments in education-based startups: Report Bee and Guru-G.

Greater Public Private Partnerships and Initiatives
All of the above point to a higher degree of interest from Corporates in building a stronger and educated India by supporting various government initiatives and acting as catalysts. The government on its part is boosting the growth of distance education market, besides focussing on new education techniques, such as E-learning and M-learning.

The education sector has seen a host of reforms and improved financial outlays in recent years that could possibly transform the country into a knowledge haven. With human resource increasingly gaining significance in the overall development of the country, the development of education infrastructure is expected to remain the key focus in the current decade. In this scenario, infrastructure investment in the education sector is likely to see a considerable increase. The Government of India has taken several steps including opening of IITs and IIMs in new locations as well as allocating educational grants for research scholars in most government institutions.

Outlook 2016: Newer Business Models
Competency-based education is clearly growing. They teach students fine-grained skills rather than concepts, also allow students to apply their experience to the classroom lessons. This model, which is ideal for older learners or those who are seeking specific skills, can be streamlined for faster completion times. Understanding how to credit prior experience and how to deliver the best educational experience are the areas of focus in 2016.

While India still needs to catch up on this global trend, yet with the skill India mission, we are clearly moving in this direction. Skills-based training camps,such as Coding Bootcamps, are apt to address the growing demand from professionals for niche skills. Companies have also begun to develop nano degrees which are specific, short programs designed to offer credentials in narrow skill sets. The possibilities for both boot camps and nano degrees are almost endless.

Particularly in the Indian Education Sector, introducing qualitative reforms to achieve better ‘learning outcomes’ has been an area of interest for the Indian government as well as other stakeholders. India is already home to some of the global learning leaders who are continuously customising best of international practices as per the needs of Indian learners. There is a definite merit in adopting a collaborative approach to address the issue and year 2016 might witness some positive movement in this regard.

Partnering with business will become increasingly important for colleges and universities. Not only does this give institutions access to motivated students, but it also helps enterprise attract, and retain, a skilled workforce.

‘Continuing education’ is the buzzword today as learners are seeking opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills throughout their learning lifecycle. Therefore, there is a need to transform the online & blended learning mechanism to address the growing demand from students as well as professionals.

The NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya at the recent FICCI Higher Education Summit 2015 made out a case for rapid expansion, transformation and cooperative federalism in higher education both in private and public sectors. Clearly, if the future is to belong to India in the 21st century, a new paradigm of education that fosters knowledge with analytical skills, logical reasoning and the ability to imagine beyond the given, with a vision to stimulate lifelong learning, is the need of the hour.

by Vikas Singh

 

Date: 14 Jan 2016

Source: Business World