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InternationalisingIndian Education: Challenges& Opportunities

Dr Sankalp Srivastava, ITM Business School

Oct 12, 2017 13:07

Knowledge is power, and knowledge transcends all boundaries—these two facts are undeniable. Economies in the 21st century are increasingly being built by human resources; not physical and natural resources alone, as was in the past. The internationalisation of the education system is one way to disseminate knowledge and build superior human resources.

For India, student mobility and global exchange is not a novel concept. Ancient Indian universities like Takshila, Nalanda,etc are the examples of internationalisation of education as early as 7thcentury BCE. These universities used to attract thousands of students from all over the world and across various disciplines.Over time, the narrative changed,with Indian students travelling abroad for higher education. In fact, many countries still continue to woo Indian students on a large scale.

India hasa demographic dividend advantage, with over half of the population under the age of 25. However, to make the most of it,it is imperative to impart the right skills and convert them into a valuable human resource. The challenges are numerous and, if unaddressed,can have grave implications.

Minna Söderqvist (2002) defined the internationalisation of higher education as “a change process from a national higher education institution to an international higher educational institution, leading to the inclusion of an international dimension in all aspects of its holistic management in order to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, and to achieve the desired competencies.” One way to ensure internationalisation of higher education is to open the Indian education sector to foreign universities in order to set up their campuses here. For starters, this will help in preventing the migration of Indian students abroad.Amongst Indian students, there is a strong desirefor a ‘foreign degree’, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation by international universities. Needless to say, it must be ensured that degrees awarded by the Indian campuses of foreign universities must remain valid in the home country of the said university.

While internationalising higher education, internationalisation of curriculum should is also factored in. Plagiarism must be prevented at all costs, especiallysince technological advances have made communication and real-time transfer of ideas and data so convenient. Despite having a large number of universities and educational institutions, few Indian institutions figure in the list of top 100 institutions of the world. Higher education institutions throughout the country are being encouraged to have agreements with other institutions in the world. Generally, top institutions like IITs, IIMs, IISc,etcopt forpartnerships with foreign institutions of higher learning. It is high time that public universities at the state levelalso go in for alliances with institutions for quality research.

Academics should have no borders, everyone would agree. Inequalities in education can be removed by holdingthis saying as an ideal. An equitable and equal partnership promoting cross-cultural competencies should be promoted among institutions throughout the world. Clear policy frameworksare being set up by leaders in the field of higher education, including talent-serving private organisations. Internationalisation is about putting the emphasis on quality rather than quantity—high-quality research funding by corporate institutions as well as by the Government will lead to greater employability for the students.

In conclusion, it can be said that in the current globalisation scenario where everything is getting integrated, higher education cannot be left behind. In the current VUCA world, while efforts are being made to internationalise higher educational institutions,we should remember that the Indian context is different and, therefore, it should be tweaked to suit the unique challenges and needs of the country. Bring global good practices and institutions willraise the overall quality of education—this will go a long way in helping recognise Indian talent worldwide.