US-Indian academics look to deepen collaboration

New Delhi: The tone was beginning to get set for greater Indo-US collaboration in the education space, days before President Biden took over. A week before the inaugural, which also brings in several Indian Americans into the new Biden-Harris administration, academics from over 10 American universities held ‘exploratory’ discussions with India’s education ministry to deepen collaboration with Indian institutions.

ET has learnt that several eminent academics of Indian origin from these universities held a discussion with senior officials from the Union education ministry last week to discuss ways to increase the level of collaboration between the institutions in the two countries.

Academics from the Universities of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Arlington, Georgia State University, Illinois, Houston, Michigan, Rutgers, Sturm College of Law from the University of Denver, Emory University in

Atlanta

and Florida were among the participants in the meeting, facilitated by the Indian embassy and the consulates in the US.

From the Indian side, officials from higher education regulators –– the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education –– attended, apart from academic heads from the Benaras Hindu University, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, IIM Trichy and Symbiosis Institute among others.

“The idea is to open up collaboration across an array of institutes and in more areas as well. Currently, most Indo-US collaboration is in STEM areas. The meeting considered expanding collaboration between Indian and US institutes. This was the first exploratory meeting to discuss greater collaboration,” an official in the know said.

( Originally published on Jan 24, 2021 )

Merger of education regulators will happen this year: AICTE

Key structural reforms in the education sector, especially the merger of regulators leading to the creation of Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), will happen this year, AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said on Thursday. The HECI will be a single overarching umbrella body for higher education, as per the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

“All regulatory bodies including the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC) and National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) will be merged to form the HECI. This will come into effect this year,” Sahasrabudhe said.

Speaking at the one-day national conference on “Salient features of approval process of handbook (20212022) for resetting technical education and implementing NEP”, he said the NEP had several features benefiting students, faculty and institutions.

“It creates a window of opportunities. For instance, top 100 institutions in the national ranking can tie-up with foreign institutions figuring in the top 500 in global ranking for academic and research collaboration and twinning,” he said.

Blaming a section of media for the “confusion” that mathematics, physics and chemistry are not mandatory for admissions to undergraduate engineering and technology, Sahasrabudhe said “it is absolutely elementary.”

Without these one can’t complete education in engineering, he said.

Aiming to provide more flexibility in admissions, the policy permits students from other streams to join engineering colleges but mandates them to take a course in physics, maths or subjects they have not studied in higher secondary, he added.

“They have to complete these bridge courses in order to complete the engineering degrees,” he said while talking to reporters later. Asked about the fate of the students who failed to cope with maths, physics or chemistry, he replied, “those who come with commerce background could excel in entrepreneurship.” “Those who seek admission come with passion and skills. They will cope but if they fail, they have to pursue some other course.”

Earlier speaking at the conference, G V Selvam, vice president, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), painted a grim picture of the universities facing the challenges of sourcing qualitatively good teaching faculty. H Chaturvedi, director, BIMTECH, Greater Noida, urged the Centre to provide a financial package, similar to the one extended by the US government to the institutions there, for the educational institutions in the country wilting under low admissions, financial crunch and loss of jobs.

The conference was held under the aegis of Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI).