Education is a key driver for social and economic change. It has been observed globally that government and private investment in education creates opportunities and enables income growth. “Access to world class education enables the creation of a knowledge economy,” said Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, Prof. C. Raj Kumar. “International organisations like the World Bank have demonstrated through empirical research that countries which increase their GDP investment in education not only eradicate illiteracy but lead to increase in wages and household incomes and reduce economic disparity.”
The economic theory of creating our human capital is based on our ability to provide educational opportunities across all segments,” Dr Raj Kumar said. “The demographic dividend we have with 850 million Indians less than the age of 35 years, will positively impact our economy and society, only if we have quality education that produces research, solve problems and lead to sustainable job opportunities”. “We have also neglected to invest in and develop the skill-based vocational sector which is a key driver for new opportunities and economic empowerment,” he said. The educational transformation that is required in India can only be achieved through a higher public and private investment in the sector.”
Though Indian students are highly motivated and successful and are an example for educational achievement and professional excellence, it has been observed that in recent years that not a single university from India is among the top 100 universities of the world, while there are several universities from Asia – China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taipei besides from the USA, UK, Europe, Australia, Europe among the top 100 in the world. He outlined a 10-point ambitious growth and reform plan for the Indian Universities at an event in Kolkata today. He observed that this plan will enable Indian universities to achieve excellence and also move up in global rankings. Indian universities need to reimagine their vision and mission to align themselves with the goals of nation building with a stronger focus on social and economic development of the country.
“Global rankings have emerged as a dominant way of measuring performance. There is today a serious aspiration underlining the need for Indian universities to be in the top 200 universities of the world and the urgency of seeking reforms that will pave the 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 the world class universities in many countries,” said, Prof Raj Kumar.
Also present at the Press Meet was Prof. Tom Goldstein, Dean of the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication. Both of them emphasized the need for Indian higher educational institutions to be at par with their international counterparts and also invest in strategies, vision, faculty, research and infrastructure to ensure they break into globally recognised international rankings.
“As someone who has studied and worked in some of the top notch US universities—as a student, teacher, administrator and parents for more than six decades—I am absolutely convinced that a quality education is the single most important factor in assuring social mobility, prosperity and progress. The contribution of the leading universities in the US to the development of the knowledge economy in the US and the world at large is less talked about, but indeed deeply significant. This substantive contribution of US universities across all disciplines including the STEM disciplines, medicine, humanities, social sciences and the professional schools has built a society that has spurred the growth of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The leading US Universities has always attracted global talent in the form of faculty and students, many of whom are from India. The India-US higher education partnership offers enormous opportunities to both the countries, said Prof. Tom Goldstein, Dean, Jindal School of Journalism & Communication (former Dean, Columbia School of Journalism & Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism).
Speaking about the importance of global rankings of universities, Prof Kumar observed, “Today, the Times Higher Education World Universities Rankings, QS World University Rankings, and the Shanghai Jiatong Academic Rankings of World Universities have become part of the institutional aspirations for many universities and higher education institutions in India. The challenges related to higher education in India deserve urgent attention and require determined responses.”
Attention must be paid to the performance of Indian universities in the global rankings and take note of the criteria required to succeed in world ranking, especially the importance of research and publications. Other factors that influence ranking include academic innovation, intellectual freedom to build global partnerships, and research excellence. In addition, internationalisation is an important criterion for breaking into the global rankings. This includes measures on the number and influence of international students, international faculty, global engagements and partnerships on research, teaching, and faculty and student exchange. The global ranking frameworks have increasingly become an indicator of the institutional quality of higher education institutions and are a powerful measure of real-world impact of universities and their role as knowledge creators.