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Pranab laments lack of quality higher education

Indore: President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday expressed regret that many higher education institutions in the country lacked the quality to produce graduates for global markets and no Indian university featured in the top-200 list.

The president called for quality teachers and good governance practices coupled with faster and transparent decision-making for building institutions with class.

He said this could be achieved by induction of reputed alumni into the governance mechanism of the institutions.

Calling for a concerted effort to develop a wide-ranging partnership with the industry, he said: “An institutional arrangement for industry-academia interface is essential to explore the contours of collaboration like sponsorship of research endowments and chairs, and conduct of internship programmes.”

“Faculty is the bedrock of education. The quality of teachers determines educational standards. Several measures are required for faculty development,” Mukherjee said while addressing the convocation ceremony of Devi Ahilya Vishwavidayalaya here.

Advocating hiring of overseas talented faculty, he said: “Talented faculty from abroad must be hired to inject new thinking and diversity in academic approach.”

Pointing to the serious situation that prevailed in higher education, the president said two-thirds of the country’s population was below 35 years of age, yet only 20 percent of them were enrolled in institutions of higher education.

Calling for filling up the vacant positions on a priority basis, Mukherjee said: “The Scholar-in-Residence ‘ENCORE’ programme and Faculty Recharge Programme of the UGC should be utilised better.”

He said: “If we undertake an honest analysis of the state of higher education in our country today, it is evident many higher academic institutions lack the quality to produce graduates for the global market.”

He said he had been sharing his concern about the performance of Indian institutions in world university rankings during his visits to various universities.

“Not a single Indian university figures in the list of top 200 universities in the world,” Mukherjee pointed out.

Urging the educationists to transform the country’s educational institutions into a world-class centre of learning, the President pointed out that the country had a long-standing tradition of knowledge and had seats of learning that included Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri — which attracted scholars from abroad.

Mukherjee said many ills that afflict efficient functioning of our universities “stem from the lack of good governance practices. Governance structures have to promote faster and transparent decision-making. In this context, the induction of reputed alumni into the governance mechanism could provide the dynamism that our institutions are often in short supply of”.

“Alumni expertise can also be drafted to review existing courses and introduce new ones,” he said.

The president said the students have an important responsibility not just to themselves and their families but also to the country and its people. He reminded them that the wonderful education they had received was a contribution of the state and the community.