Innovating Universities in India

One of the pillars of India’s new Innovation Strategy is Education

During a recent trip to India I was struck by the eagerness and willingness to innovate the rigid university sector and university education. The challenge is humbling in such a billion people country. It is sometimes easy to forget that the extremely well-educated and cosmopolitan Indians we typically meet at various places in the world are the products of a handful of extreme elite institutions, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) or their counter parts in Management (IIM). This is the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg of education in India.

The challenge to gradually improve both quality and quantity of education is immense. In fact, one of the five “innovation pillars” of the national Indian innovation strategy 2010-2020 is Human Capital & Tools, which includes higher education. Building on their ancient traditions, including the pioneering universities  Nalanda and Takshshila, the newly revised innovation strategy sets out to rally the collective resources of more than 1 billion people to rapidly improve India  in all aspects of innovations (more about this strategy and the other pillars in another post).

The specific governmental initiatives to boost the quality and quantity of education in India includes the following key actions:

  • Expansion, Excellence, Equity & Access
  • Higher Education Council for  Regulatory Reforms
  • National Mission on Vocational Education
  • More IITs, IIMs, Colleges, Schools  & investments
  • 16 New National Universities & Multidisciplinary Ed
  • 14 New Innovation Universities
  • More students in Maths, Science &PhD
  • Distance learning & Technology in Education
  • Open course ware, Course wise credit, New models
  • Private & Foreign partnerships

When I asked officials where they had been inspired to move ahead they listed the US, UK, Israel and Finland.  Judging from interacting with some of the leaders involved in implementing this program I am convinced these actions will have a tremendously positive effect. The Chinese challenge is of course similar, but with a totally different governance approach.

The featured story of the October-issue of the Asia’s largest magazine on this topic,  Asian Educator, is Education & Innovation. The challenge is summarized on the cover page: Innovation is necessary in the education sector where decade-old methods in curricula and teaching continue to be used. The entire systems needs revamp to meet future challenges. In this issue a number of people – including me – offer their views and suggestion for how to make this happen. The interview is here: Asian Educator Oct 2011 page 26 and Asian Educator Oct 2011 page 27

What about our own backyard? Where is the eagerness and willingness to innovate our university sector and university education?

Or, perhaps you think there is no need..? Dream on.


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