Internationalisation of Higher Education
By Harbinder Singh Mehra
Internationalisation of higher education is one of the biggest educational reforms under NEP-2020 that was long overdue. Former Education Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ stated on various forums that, under NEP, government had set a clear goal of establishing India as a “global educational destination”. In fact, the government is working on a very ambitious roadmap for making India a preferred education hub in the next decade. Accordingly, the Union Ministry of Education is all set to welcome foreign institutions to India and very soon the proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will come out with a mechanism to facilitate entry of reputed institutions into the country. Besides these, top ranking Indian institutions will be allowed to set up foreign campuses and forge a joint network with top global players. This is very important development given the fact that, in 2019 alone, around 8 lakh students went abroad to pursue their dreams. On an average, students spend more than 15 billion USD to get foreign qualifications. If we can allow institutions like Yale, Stanford, MIT, Michigan to enter India, students can obtain the same degrees in the country at a fraction of the cost. There is no doubt that India has huge potential to emerge as a top destination for global universities. Top Universities will not only bring capital investment but also top quality faculty with rich research exposure. Their mere presence, let alone collaboration and partnerships, can spur competition and innovation among Indian universities.
The internationalisation agenda of the Modi Government in Indian higher education has been closely correlated to the very dynamic international scenario. The NEP, which was approved by government last year, will positively influence future higher education development in the country. However, the ultimate outcomes of the recommendations in the NEP will be shaped by future priorities of the union and state governments. As always, funding is a major issue. Financial resources available to states and Centre will be a big factor when it comes to successful implementation of the education policy.
The New Education Policy under the former Education Minister will be known for its flexibility at its core.
When change is propagated as an agent of development, flexibility occupies the front seat. NEP 2020 very firmly advocates flexibility in adoption of the curriculum at every level of pedagogy so as to make our students strategically competitive and prepared for international competition. Freedom to choose subjects as per one’s own interests and strengths very subtly breeds the required confidence which makes the entire journey of studentship not only interesting but effective and meaningful, too. The creative instincts of a child get suitably cued when a student of science is given freedom to surf the literary spheres and vice-versa. The new horizons of research and innovative thinking would appear when students are not shackled in the stereotyped and hackneyed course contents. NEP 2020 thus provides students with much needed whiffs of fresh air by putting wings to their creative imaginations. Much emphasis given to the ‘Study In India’ programme reflects strong commitment of our government to internationalisation of education. The academic bank credit system is a revolutionary reform that will help our education system align with international education.
It has often been said that knowledge never goes waste. Riding high on and acknowledging the spirit of the saying, an effort has been made in NEP 2020 to give this sentiment an effective shape by trying to implement it not just in letter but in spirit, too. A student suitably decorated with a certificate or a diploma or a degree after completion of 1,2,3 years of a particular course or discipline, respectively, would certainly develop the desired value of what he has achieved and keep his interest and quest intact to achieve what he could not. The system of ACB which proposes to bank one’s academic achievements will result in enhancing the urge to improve and suitably enriching his or her deposit of academic achievements and thereby minimise the dropout ratio.
Apart from the above mentioned structural changes, which clearly hint at the paradigm shift in the education policy, there are many more improvements at the implementation level. With a focus to develop India as most favoured destination for higher education, these measures will give teeth to the regulating bodies and empower them to effectively carry forward what has been prescribed and mulled over. A single regulator system for the whole mechanism which has been proposed to be light but tight envisages governance of HEIs by highly qualified academicians at the helm of autonomous regulating bodies and institutions. The policy makers have done their job wonderfully and remarkably. A clear cut vision to take India to the new trajectories of growth and development through education can be seen on paper. The onus now very naturally shifts to the implementation part of it. As is rightly said, no policy is good or bad only its implementation makes it so, we the teachers as very active constituents of this coveted sector sincerely vow to carry forward the spirit oozing out of this New Education Policy and make the dream visualised by the persons at the helm of our country a remarkable reality.
(Harbinder Singh Mehra (Haru) is President & CEO at Paris based Le Frehindi, a student benefit organisation working in domains of skill development, international exchanges & international educational collaborations at the K-12 & University levels with focus on collaborations & synergies between Indian & French educational institutions. Based in Paris & Lyon with a branch office in New Delhi, Mehra has been widely covered by the European media for bringing innovation to short term exchanges in schools and outdoor learning camps.)