New Delhi, 14 Oct 2019: At a high-level discussion about creating universities for the future in India and how important rankings are in higher education, Prof. (Dr) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice-Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University said, “There are five critical elements of the common good that are necessary for universities of the future.
Universities should be working towards the pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination through research that will improve the lives of people.
They should be engaged in education in the form of teaching and learning that will enable and empower young people towards the development of enlightened global citizenship.
Universities should be engaged in the pursuit of speaking truth to power through intellectual rigor, objective analysis, and evidence-based research that will help in building an informed citizenry and impact policy-making.
They should contribute towards fulfilling the common good to the mission of institutional excellence so that what universities do is measured in line with this purpose and objective.
And, they should provide individual and institutional leadership in recognizing the importance of pursuing common good by developing consensus among all stakeholders, including the government, private sector, and the civil society.
The pursuit of the common good needs to be integrated into the vision and mission statements of universities.
There has to be a deeper recognition that the demands, expectations, and aspirations of societies from the universities can be better achieved by the fulfillment of the common good. “There are a set of skills that our current and future students are expected to develop through educational processes and that are seen as most suited for the uncertain world that is perpetually in transition. These skills are at the foundation of the ten factors explained below,” Dr. C. Raj Kumar elucidated.
- Not-for profit and philanthropic university
The future of Indian universities (public and private) will significantly depend upon our ability to harness individual, institutional and corporate philanthropy for the purposes of higher education. Higher education and universities (private or public) by their very nature ought to be not-for-profit and established through philanthropy. There is also a need to develop a culture of philanthropy and giving to promote quality in higher education.
2.Academic freedom and institutional autonomy
Higher education in India is in the process of transition in the face of globalization. Some of the important organizations involved in responding to the challenges of developing a knowledge economy and seeking this transition in higher education are the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, and the NITI Aayog. While there is a need for consensus-building and closer interaction among these bodies, the importance of promoting academic freedom and institutional autonomy should also be recognized. The state and the private sector need to recognise that the creation of knowledge and development of the higher education sector cannot take place without recognising academic freedom and institutional autonomy.
- Multidisciplinary university and interdisciplinary learning
The leading universities of the world have demonstrated a deep, persistent and sustained a commitment to Interdisciplinarity. The importance of crossing disciplinary boundaries in teaching, learning, and research is yet to be fully realized within the Indian higher education system. Institutional mechanisms need to be established within universities to enable students to learn across schools, departments, and programs across the entire university. Second, the need to provide adequate resources for faculty to undertake cross-disciplinary research. Third, there is a critical need to allow researchers to push disciplinary boundaries in order to promote innovative, interdisciplinary and socially-relevant research that serves the needs of the country.
4.Transparent admissions process with no management quota
A transparent admissions system is an essential component of building a long-term, credible institutional reputation. Given the complex nature of India’s higher education system, private higher education institutions in particular face the challenge of poor perceptions of credibility, transparency, accountability, and institutional repute.
5.Internationalization at the heart of institution building
Developing international networks and collaborations with leading foreign universities carries utility for not simply a one-way stream of knowledge from the developed to the developing, but enables dialogical interactions on new areas of research, pedagogical innovations, enhancements to student learning, advances in educational technology and intercultural sensitization.
6.The hiring of outstanding faculty as inspiring teachers and prolific researchers
Of all the significant inputs that go into making a world-class university, it is necessary to recognize that the faculty is the most important and indeed the most significant. Outstanding faculty members who can make great substantive contributions to teaching and research create world-class universities. It is only by hiring and retaining inspiring teachers and rigorous researchers that we can hope to establish world-class universities in India.
7.Building a culture of research and publications
Research in every discipline, in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences, can have a profound impact on our society and beyond. Indifference and complacency to research have led to the inability of universities in India to produce knowledge that can impact policy, product innovation, or provide solutions to social, economic and political problems that affect India as a nation.
8.Institutionalizing accreditation, rankings and benchmarking
While quality in higher education cannot be contained in a definition, global rankings of universities have emerged as a dominant way of measuring their performance. There is today a serious debate on the need for Indian universities to be in the top 200 universities of the world and the urgency of seeking reforms that will the pave way for promoting excellence in higher education and research. It is important that Indian universities embrace the international rankings framework as well as international accreditation processes which will benchmark Indian universities with world class universities in many countries.
9.Promoting diversity, inclusion, and accessibility
In the increasingly multicultural, plural environments that we now inhabit, the concept of diversity will be varyingly defined based on culture, society and individuals. A commitment to diversity will allow acceptance of and respect for distinctive, unique and individual approaches to speech and action. These approaches may emerge from aspects that include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical and mental abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and other ideologies. For organisations that seek to succeed in contemporary times then, institutionalising the ideas of diversity and inclusion represents an opportunity to advance the possibilities for dialogue, mutual understanding, and
10.Developing active participation of all stakeholders for good governance
World-class universities can be developed and nurtured only when all the stakeholders of a university – students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni – in addition to relevant government agencies and departments, institutional partners and collaborators, potential donors and partners, neighboring communities and other stakeholders become active participants in the university’s evolution, enabling the institution to take decisions about the university in an independent and transparent manner.