IIT Kharagpur and IIT Kharagpur Alumni Foundation India, October 10, 2020, IIT Kharagpur Alumni Foundation (India) in partnership with IIT Kharagpur organized an International Webinar on ‘India: The Global Destination for Higher Education: Post NEP 2020 Scenario’. Spread over the two days on October 9 and 10, 2020, eminent experts from Indian and global academia deliberated on policy recommendations for the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, towards the internationalization of Indian higher educational institutions in the light of the New Education Policy 2020.
The mood was set by Prof. V K Tewari Director, IIT Kharagpur and the patron of the webinar and Commander V K Jaitly, Chairman of the webinar. Cdr Jaitly reminded the audience how the recommendations forwarded in the first edition of this initiative in 2017 were incorporated in NEP 2020. He pointed out how Indian students are spending about $16 Bn abroad every year and most of them land up in average universities. They spend 10 to 20 times more in comparison to the ‘value for money’ of the education they can get in India. If the quality of Higher Education in India is enhanced along with the packaging and branding of our educational programs to international students, our country can earn about $20 Bn every year.
Prof. Tewari expressed his views about measuring the contributions of IITs over the decades in the light of the continuing exodus of young Indian talents abroad and product development with global market potential. He believes NEP 2020 has brought the opportunity to finally promote internationalization both inbound and outbound, through semester away and credit transfer programs. He welcomed the concept of a multi-education research university floated under NEP 2020 which will have a long-term impact on the reputation of institutions such as IIT Kharagpur.
Views by Education Minister
Hon’ble Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ who was the Chief Guest talked about how NEP 2020 is in sync with global education programs including a credit bank system enabling students to take a break while pursuing their academic programs and awarding certificates, diplomas and degrees. Thus international students will not feel burdened with long-term commitment. He expressed concern over the outflow of billions of dollars every year for foreign education despite the strong higher education system and research facilities in the country especially now with the announcement of NEP 2020 and the proposed National Research Foundation. The recent approach by the Govt. of India inviting foreign universities to open campuses in India and Indian universities to set up foreign campuses might address the challenge. He asserted that the various digital platforms developed under various educational initiatives of Govt. of India since 2014 would help strengthen the internationalization prospects of the country’s higher education system along with outreach programs. He gave the mantra of ‘Stay in India’ and ‘Study in India’.
Online and Short-term Programs
The panelists including Secretary, Dept. of Higher Education Shri Amit Khare contemplated increasing the reach to foreign students under NEP 2020 through online education such as SWAYAM. He also weighed on leveraging the researchers’ network of GIAN and SPARC programs and creating short-term courses for one or two semesters under NEP 2020, in addition, to extensively covering social aspects of cyber-physical research. This idea was further supported by Prof. R T Krishnan, Director, IIM Bangalore who observed that foreign students often opt for short-term courses instead of long commitments due to the uncertain factor of the cost of education. Prof Sandeep Sancheti, VC, SRM University, however, leaned towards a Masters program which he believes can bring international recognition. Prof. M K Surappa, VC, Anna University talked about the contribution of engineering colleges other than IITs both private, central government and those with state universities. Chairman, AICTE Prof. Anil Sahasrabudhe talked about creating a silo of the Indian knowledge system, which has been emphasized under NEP2020, catering to the interests of foreign students.
Funding & Publicity
Revisiting the admission system to Indian universities and funding mechanisms were also discussed. While Prof. Sudhir Jain, Director, IIT Gandhinagar remarked on publicizing funding schemes through webinars and promotional activities by Indian foreign offices, Prof Souvik Bhattacharyya, VC, BITS Pilani opined on the need for a contemporary and youthful approach in the funding and communication programs and improve the perception by engaging existing foreign students as brand ambassadors. Prof. Geeta Mehta from Columbia University and President, Asia Initiatives pointed out the lack of brand awareness about IITs abroad among the general public despite the reputation in the corporate sector. Prof S Vaidhyasubramanium, VC, Sastra Deemed University talked about looking for opportunities in the neighbourhood of SAARC, while Dr R Gopal, Director, Member, Board of Management, DY Patil School of Management (Deemed to be University) emphasized on the importance of the consortium approach for marketing the Indian universities abroad.
The issue of bottlenecks in the admission of foreign students was raised by Prof. Pramod K Jain, Director, IIT (BHU) Varanasi who advocated the need for making the admission process and other regulations lucid for the foreign students. The possibility of globalizing NTA and other admission programs was also discussed. US Consul General from Kolkata Ms. Patti Hoffman reflected on the role of international offices at individual institutions to provide the core support system along with exploring collaborative opportunities through designing customized joint programs under NEP 2020.
A key area that was discussed across all the panels was infrastructural development catering to the living experience and overall campus life of the international students. Prof. Souvik Bhattacharyya, VC, BITS Pilani, called it a deal-breaker and stressed on the need for alternate methods to procure funds for infrastructural development.
Another area that found repeated mention was the creating international presence of Indian higher educational institutions through setting up outreach centres working in close association with the foreign offices of the Govt. of India. Prof. Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor at the University of California San Diego noted how US universities have addressed this in UAE. This idea found further support among academic experts from the USA with Prof. Prabhat Hajela, Provost, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute extending the idea to conducting outreach initiatives addressing safety and infrastructural issues by means of induction programs to improve the perception of Indian institutions and foreign students enrollment.
Employment Opportunities through Startup Incubation
The concern of return on investment was expressed by Prof. T G Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati who mulled on making internships and employment opportunities available to foreign students. This thought found a distant answer in the deliberations of Prof Prith Banerjee who stated how the students from universities such as Stanford contemplate having their startups than joining corporate jobs and the role the universities play in grooming the students for entrepreneurship.
Commander VK Jaitly, the Webinar Chair stressed the need for setting up a Task Force at the National level and its cells in all the HEIs engaged in the objective of attracting foreign students for higher studies in different schemes. The HEIs should set their goals and the Task Force can play a supporting role in achieving those goals through appropriate funding, creating consortiums and conducting outreach programs.
The sessions were coordinated by Prof Sukumar Rangachari, academician and entrepreneur, Shri Rajah Venkatraman, Webinar Convenor, Ron (Ranbir) Gupta, President, IIT Kharagpur Foundation USA and Varadarajan Seshamani, President, IIT Kharagpur Foundation India as session coordinator.
The webinar was co-sponsored by IIT Kharagpur Foundation USA, PanIIT USA and PanIIT India.
Cdr. V K Jaitly, M: +91 9811 777 904; Shreyoshi Ghosh, M: +91 8145 736 048