The internationalization of Indian higher education is a top priority for Indian policy makers and education providers. Ample initiatives have been taken by policy makers and education agencies to promote the internationalization with the aim of putting Indian higher education on the global map, but unfortunately, only a handful of institutes represent the country in the global arena.
According to Prof R S S Mani, Vice President -Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions, one of the best ways to make education more focussed and specialised would be to promote educational hubs all over India. “These hubs do exist in India today but are largely heterogeneous in nature. A city like Mumbai, Bangalore offers all possible avenues of education like medicine, engineering, hospitality, management across multi disciplinary areas. However the need of the hour is to have education hubs that are industry specific,” he elaborated.
Industry leaders feel that the approach is to have clusters of industry and academic institutions at the same location. For example – we could have the engineering colleges and technical training schools in an around Chennai & Pune, where there is a large presence of the automobile industry; both two wheeler and four wheeler. By the same logic, the IT cluster could be Bangalore and Hyderabad while the hospitality cluster could be in Mumbai and Delhi. The major advantage of setting up these hubs is to create training facilities and internships for students and thus groom to get a solid career foundation.
The advantages of the above are plenty –
1. Students can get ample opportunities for on the job training during their period of study besides their regular internships.
2. Faculty members too could be encouraged to take up live research projects and offer consultancy services in their expertise areas.
3. Industry executives could use their spare time towards taking sessions for the students via guest lectures and seminars.
4. A lot of collaborative activities that could benefit the community at large could be done by industry & academic institutions.
Mani feels that the net outcome of the above would be that industry would be collaborating with academia to produce the right kind of employees that it would need.
“This would lead to increased productivity and also result in specialised research and new forays. Further this leads to healthy competition among several institutions who are offering specialised courses of various types in a single domain. Thus in the automobile cluster, though mechanical engineering is the main domain of study related to areas such as automobile engineering, production engineering, supply chain management; logistics and such others could also be complimentary and valuable add-ons,” enunciated Mani.
However, as on today we have several educational hubs in many cities and clusters such as Pune, Mangalore, Bangalore, Warangal to name a few. But these are not homogenous in nature and have multiple programmes across every possible stream. Thus these tend to be more of centres of education but are not industry specific.
While it would be difficult to change the existing set up overnight, it is important to consciously plan that the educational hubs of the future could be based on the above model. “Locations such as Raipur, Indore, Nasik, Nagpur, Tricky, Bhubaneswar, Baroda have further ample scope to set up educational hubs of excellence that could be specialisation driven . Besides, we need to ensure that the world class quality standards such as ACBSP or QS are maintained at the highest levels,” enthused Mani.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that in order to attract students from all over the world; India must ensure that the sanitation and infrastructure should be world class. “The cities should be further developed to be student friendly and an attractive choice for them like well established B type cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and Pondicherry to name a few. Thus before we go global, we need to put the local infrastructure in place. Thus the magic mantra is ‘Thinking Global but Act Local’,” concluded Mani.