Tuesday, July 01, 2014

In a first, Indian-origin scholar becomes dean of top US law school

Indian-origin academics head a raft of engineering, math, science, and business schools in the United States. But for a country with a long-standing and deep-rooted tradition in law and jurisprudence — almost the entire team of India's founding fathers consisted of legal eagles — the dean-ship of a US law school has eluded them. That will be corrected substantially on Tuesday when Sujit Choudhry, a highly-regarded constitutional scholar, will take charge of the University of California (UC) Berkeley's Boalt Hall, one of the top law schools in America.

Choudhry, who is just 44, moves to California from New York University (NYU), where he founded, and helmed, the Center for Constitutional Transitions. The New Delhi-born academic has received rave reviews for his scholarship in the area, including for work in the sub-continent (he is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Indian Constitutional Law with Pratap Bhanu Mehta), and he had no trouble making it to the top of the short list to head UC Berkeley Law School, whose alumni include former Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Silicon Valley legal eagle Larry Sonsini, among others.

Law is not among the favored subject of Indian students in the United States that has brought some 100,000 collegiates stateside. According to the Open Doors report that monitors foreign student inflow to the US, some 75 per cent of students from India go into engineering, math, and science streams, and close to 15 per cent study at business schools. The report does not tabulate law school entrants, but social sciences and humanities account for less than 5 per cent.

Anecdotal reports suggest that is starting to change, particularly among Indian-Americans, and Choudhry concurs. "When I went to law school 20 years ago there weren't many Indian kids growing up in North America who considered law," he recalled in an interview with The Times of India. "The way in which legal education had been viewed relative to other opportunities at home (in India) had kind of carried over to North America."

In part, there were historical reasons for Indian students not looking to US for law studies. "If you look at Indian legal elite, Oxbridge and London were the central points of reference from the 1930s to 1980s," says Choudhry. Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Jinnah and others trooped to the UK to burnish their legal credentials, and only Ambedkar among the Founding Fathers came to the US (to New York's Columbia University).

Choudhry maintains it is very different now, and top law schools in America are "full of Indians, whether they are from India or Indian kids who have grown up here." The perceived value of legal education has changed since liberalization, he says, and India has turned increasingly towards American institutions of higher education, because "work here is more interdisciplinary and increasingly global in its orientation."

Even more so in culturally and ethnically diverse California and Bay Area (where UC Berkeley Law goes head-to-head against Stanford Law School), which Choudhry says, is what drew him to the West Coast (in addition to the small matter of having an extensive family network there). "Great law schools of the 21st century will be a global crossroads for people and ideas from around the world," says Choudhry. "Legal issues are not confined to single jurisdictions now. They may have state, federal, foreign, international and transnational dimensions."

It's a line of thinking that appealed to New Delhi law professional Geetanjani Bhushan almost a decade back when she decided to come to the prestigious Georgetown University Law Center to earn an LLM degree with specialization in corporate transactions and negotiations. "I didn't just bounce out of bed with the idea of flying off to the US. I was motivated to undertake the rigorous (and costly) endeavor to study in a top American law school after being a practicing attorney for six years in New Delhi," she recalls. In course of a bruising program, she says she got the kind of exposure in the US she "would not trade for anything."

Given the number of international legal wrangles India is coming up against, from water disputes to intellectual property rights' spats to tax rows with MNCs, it will be no surprise if there are many more Indian students thinking along the same lines. Choudhry's Berkeley Law and other law schools may yet see more Indian students in the coming years.

Source: The Times of India, July 1, 2014
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Washington University partners IIT-Bombay for e-MBA degree

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have jointly launched a combined US-India joint executive MBA degree programme. The new programme, which will confer a joint MBA degree, will be modelled after WUSTL's executive MBA in China and the US.

"This is our first joint degree programme that we have in Washington University and conveys our commitment to partnership and confidence in IIT-Bombay," Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University told ET in an exclusive interaction. "We expect enrollment from companies that are based outside India and the ones that are based in India. That development of network of business professionals will be valuable for those who enroll," he said.

"Back home in the US, I have spoken to a lot of companies that have operations in India and I have had the chance to speak to the CEOs of three important St. Louis-headquartered companies, including Emerson, which has 10,000 employees or more in India, Monsanto and Sigma Aldrich and each of those companies has committed to having one or two employees in their first cohort of students in this joint e-MBA programme," said Wrighton. The partnership will also enable IIT-Bombay to connect with a large number of businesses in many sectors, other than technology, and complement their ongoing activities of industry academia linkages.

"At IIT-Bombay, we see this as a great interface to industry. We already have strong connections with the industry on the technology side; this way we will get an opportunity to connect on the business side, too," said Devang V. Khakhar, Director, IIT-Bombay. Classes will be held in the IIT-Bombay campus and taught by faculty from WUSTL's Olin Business School and IIT-Bombay's Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management (SJMSOM).

The programme will be of 18-month duration and classes will be offered four days a month. It will end with a two-week exposure at the Washington University. The first session of the programme will commence from early 2015. The tuition fees will be $55,000-$60,000, which is 50% less than its current cost in the US.

"The curriculum will draw upon the expertise of not just the two business schools but also of IIT-Bombay and Washington University," said Mahendra Gupta, the Indian origin dean of WUSTL's Olin Business School. "There are two countries that are going to have a major economic impact on the world, in addition to the existing leaders in the western hemisphere, that is China and India," Gupta said.

The programme is meant for professionals with at least seven years of experience. "Our executives will be representing all sectors including women in such a way that we will be able to open the door not only for corporate leaders but also in the fields of social entrepreneurship, CSR, policy perspectives, government leaders, bureaucrats, and NGOs," said S. Bhargava, head of SJMSOM.

Source: The Economic Times, July 1, 2014
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indian Education System: Waiting for a reboot

When it comes to education, India is a study in contrasts — on the one side, it has a huge pool of human resources, and on the other, the quality of education outcomes is questionable, affecting the competitiveness of the country as a knowledge hub. 

The demographic dividend of which the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) spoke so highly five years back is yet to be realized. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on talent (one of the five ‘T’s he has spoken about in his campaign speeches — trade, talent, tourism, technology and traditions) and portions of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) election manifesto raise some hope, officials and industry experts said.

“We need to start with a vision for India’s education system, an ambitious aspiration of where we want to be, say five to 10 years from now,” said Ashish Dhawan, Chief Executive at Central Square Foundation, a venture philanthropy fund working on school education. Once the vision is set, the country must outline short- and medium-term milestones to achieve it and a clear road map to get there. “This has to be the starting point of education transformation in our country,” Dhawan said.

India Ratings and Research Pvt. Ltd, part of the Fitch Group, has valued India’s education market at Rs. 5.9 trillion in 2014-15, up from Rs. 3.33 trillion in 2011-12. “India’s young demographic would continue to benefit the sector even as protracted infrastructure upgrades and regulatory issues delay timely benefits,” said India Ratings in its 2014-15 outlook.

India has more than 220 million students enrolled in schools and some 27 million in higher education. The country has about 1.4 million schools, over 36,000 colleges and more than 610 universities.

Of the total education market, higher education accounted for 59.7%, followed by school education (38.1%). The balance was divided among pre-school and ancillary sectors like technology adoption, Care Ratings said in another February report.

While rising incomes and rapid urbanization, coupled with increasing awareness about the importance of quality education, have caused robust growth of the Indian education industry, many studies say that the quality of education is falling in India.

The 2013 Annual Status of Education Report by non-profit Pratham found that while three out of every five students in Class V were able to read Class II textbooks in 2005, only one out of two is up to the task now. In the Programme for International Student Assessment test (published in 2011), India came second-last among 74 participating economies. A 2011 report by lobby group NASSCOM said only a fourth of all graduating engineers in India were employable.

Almost all segments of India’s education needs a “serious revamping”, said Chitta Baral, a professor at Arizona State University who tracks the Indian education sector. From schools to teachers’ training, from assessment to parts of higher education, the sector needs a serious relook, keeping in mind the changing economy, global competition and India’s aim of becoming a knowledge superpower, he said.

While school education needs to emphasize comprehension and writing, the new government needs to give priority to setting up community colleges that can give region-specific skill education, leading to jobs, Baral said. Besides, India needs to have a few world-class universities for others to look up to, he added.

Education reform without reforming teachers’ education is unthinkable, said G.L.Arora, a former head of the department of education at the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the apex body on teachers’ education and school syllabus. “In last 10-12 years, the number of teacher training institutions has crossed 15,000 from less than 2,000 and most of them are run by private players and are commercial in nature. This is where the government needs to intervene and reform,” Arora said.

The Justice J.S. Verma Commission on Teacher Education had said that nearly 90% of the teacher training institutions in need of restructuring are in the private sector. Though the government started pre-entry testing for teachers through the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) — based on the commission’s report — the results were abysmal. In the last edition of CTET, just one in 56 candidates managed to clear the test for would-be school teachers. In other words, the success rate was 1.78%. Of the 750,722 candidates who took CTET on 16 February, only 13,428 cleared it to become eligible for being appointed as teachers for elementary level (Class I-VIII). “Such poor success rate reflects two things: the quality of general education from schools to colleges and the quality of teacher training institutes,” Arora said.

In the higher education space, there needs to be less government and more governance. Liberalizing the sector from the excessive regulation is necessary, said experts. “Regulation is required, but it needs to be contemporary — different from what the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), or University Grants Commission (UGC) are doing now,” said N.R. Parasuraman, Director at SDM Institute for Management Development, Mysore.

In management education, students prefer postgraduate programmes (PGPs) to traditional master’s degrees, said Ajit Rangnekar, Dean at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. “While PGP courses can innovate as per industry requirement, MBA has an old pattern with the affiliating university deciding its learning content — that needs to change. The government should be an enabler by removing impediments.”

Harivansh Chaturvedi, Alternate President of the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), a lobby group, said that in the last five years, one human resource development minister (Kapil Sibal) announced too many things arbitrarily, and the other (M.M. Pallam Raju) was a good listener, but could not execute the right things. “The government needs to take private players into consideration while planning policy decisions. Looking at all private institutions with suspicion needs to change and the government needs to stop differentiating between quality private institutions and public institutes,” Chaturvedi said.

The BJP’s manifesto proposal of increasing public funding on education to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP) and restructuring UGC as a higher education commission rather than a fund granting agency, was seen by both industry and academic experts as the beginning of a much-needed structural shift.

Source: Mint, June 24, 2014
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Monday, June 23, 2014

MHRD all set to bring foreign universities to India

Union MHRD Minister Smriti Irani has decided to focus on a legal framework for allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India and curb unfair practices by education institutions as part of the human resources ministry's legislative agenda, a government official said.

In doing so, the minister hopes to address the questions of increasing access and improving quality of higher education institutions in the country. "The Foreign Education Providers Bill and the Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill are on the priority list of the minister. We will have to go through the entire process — circulating a Cabinet note, discussions with the legislative department, then Cabinet approval, then vetting by the standing committee, before the Bill can be taken up for discussion and passage by Parliament," an official said on the conditions of anonymity.

"We don't know for sure if all of this can be completed in the course of the Budget session, but these bills are on the priority." Both legislative measures were initiated by the previous Congress-led government, but fell off the government's legislative priority agenda in the face of political opposition, some of it from within the ruling combine.

There is at present no legal and regulatory framework to allow foreign universities to set up campus in India, despite efforts by the previous government.

Faced with delays in enacting a law allowing foreign universities to set up base in the country, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) decided in September 2013 to take the executive order route to open the doors for the top 400 institutions to set up campuses in the country and award degrees, giving Indian students the opportunity to study in global institutions without leaving home or spending a fortune in dollars.

A legal framework making this possible has been pending for more than a decade now. The proposed UGC (Establishment & Operation of Campuses of Foreign Educational Institutions) Rules required that foreign education providers set up the India campuses as not-for-profit companies, that is companies set up under Section 25 of the old Companies Act (Section 8 of the new one). The proposal had the support of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).

However, the regulations were never issued with the government's legislative department failing to notify them. With newer players operating in the field of higher education, there is a need to improve the protection available to students against fly-by-night operators and other malpractices. The intent of the legislation is to give a legal basis to curtail profiteering in higher education institutions as well as ensure accountability of institutions by making it mandatory for them to disclose information related to admission process.

Source: The Economic Times, June 23, 2014
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dental Council seeks moratorium on opening new colleges

The Dental Council of India (DCI) today demanded a moratorium on starting new private colleges while citing "ample number" of dentists in society and the acute shortage of trained faculty in existing colleges as the main reasons.

Dr Dibyendu Mazumdar, the president of the statutory body which is responsible for regulating dental education and also the profession, said that the combined intake of students across 302 colleges has reached 25,000. 
"There should be a moratorium on starting new dental colleges. The DCI does not want to sanction new dental colleges anywhere in the country," Dr Mazumdar told PTI. He was speaking on the sidelines of the 2nd international conference on the theme of evidence-based education system (EBES) being organised by the Sumandeep Vidyapeeth in Vadodara. 

"The current dentist-to-population ratio is well above the requirement," Dr Mazumdar said, adding that he had already written to all chief ministers requesting them not to approve any new private dental college in their respective state. "Another reason for the moratorium on opening of new dental colleges is due to acute shortage of qualified teaching faculty," he said.

As per the procedure, a university concerned has to grant an NOC (No Objection Certificate) to the management of private college which then has to secure nod of the state government and finally send the proposal to Centre.

"The strict rules have resulted in rejection of 90 per cent proposals to open new dental colleges in the country. As many as 85 colleges were not given recognition to run a dental college because of stringent norms. Only 7 were considered and given approval during this year so far," he said. "Even if we give permission, the dental college should necessarily be attached to a medical college because as many as eight out of the 17 subjects are common for both dental and medical students," the DCI president said.

Dr Mazumdar said that the DCI recognised only those dental institutes which have other departments such as ENT, eye, orthopaedic and others to ensure sufficient inflow of clinical material and patients to the college concerned. He said that private colleges were not on par with their government counterparts in terms of training and standard of education.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), June 21, 2014
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Australia among top 3 choices for Indian students

Reversing the earlier trend of migration to Australia by majority of Indians, the country now continued to be one of the top three destinations of choice for Indian students due to its academic quality and education system, a senior Australian diplomat said today.

Though many Indian students preferred to study in Australia for migration and have permanent residency, nowadays the system and quality education now was attracting Indian students, as out of 390,000  International students from more than 190 countries, 38,000 were Indians, the second largest source country behind only to China, Sean Kelly, Australian Consul-General for South India, told reporters in Coimbatore today.

In 2012, the number of Indian students granted visas for Under Graduate or Post Graduate study grew by 165 per cent over the previous year, a ringing endorsement of the attractiveness of study in Australia, Kelly pointed out. There were many reasons responsible for the growth, in particular the reputation of the universities, the quality of living and the opportunities for students to work in Australia during and following study, he said.

As far as Tamil Nadu was concerned, Australia has a significant relationship with the education sector of the state, as there are 83 active higher education links between Australia and Tamil Nadu institutes, including 19 Australian universities and 34 Indian institutes, he said.

In fact, of 453 MoUs between Indian universities and research Institutes, Tamil Nadu has 80 MoUs with the Australian Counterparts, more than any other Indian state, Mike Carter, Consul (commercial), who was also present, said.

Source: The Economic Times, June 20, 2014
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Japan continues to be Asian giant in higher education, China closing in

Japan continues it's dominance in Asian higher education by holding the top position yet again in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2014, released a few hours ago on Thursday. The country has 20 representatives in the Top 100 table. But breathing down its neck is mainland China, which made significant stride registering 18 of its universities in the list, an increase of three since last rankings.

As reported by Phil Baty, editor of THE Rankings, University of Tokyo leads the pack in the Asia university rankings. However, Japan's strength came down by three from that of the 2013 list. Meanwhile in addition to China's 18, the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong recorded six of its own.

Holding fort for Japan is University of Tokyo at number one and Kyoto University retaining its 17th place. The Tokyo Institute of Technology holds on to 13th position, and Osaka University moves up two places to 15th, as per THE report. However, Keio University fell to 72 from 53, while Kobe University moved down to 88 from 73.

As reported in THE, at UTokyo, at least, there is growing acknowledgement that Japan's historic dominance of the region in higher education terms can no longer be taken for granted. The key concern is a relative lack of funding. Junichi Hamada, the university's president, tells THE: "With the financial ability (and the human resources) that Chinese universities have, they are a big threat to us. If we look towards the future, over the next 10 years, in specific areas perhaps they may overtake us. But it will still take time."

For China, Peking is the top university at 5th, though it has lost one place from 2013 rankings. Beijing's Tsinghua University is at 6th, while many others improved their rankings significantly. The University of Science and Technology of China has risen four places to 21st; Renmin University of Chinahas jumped from 41st to joint 32nd; Zhejiang University is up four places to 41st; and Wuhan University of Technology has moved from joint 58th to 49th. The Chinese entrants in the top 100 are Tianjin University (62nd), East China Normal University (joint 67th), Hunan University (81st) and Tongji University (87th).

Accoring to THE, one outstanding regional performer is Singapore: although it has just two institutions in the top 100, the first, the National University of Singapore, is in second place and the other, Nanyang Technological University, is 11th. Another exemplar of Asian success in higher education and research is South Korea.

As per THE analysis, South Korea is another exemplar of Asian success in higher education. "The country spent almost $60 billion on R&D in 2011 - some 4% of its gross domestic product. This commitment to research and education has supported its leading institutions to make serious gains in the rankings. South Korea has 14 representatives in the 2014 Asia table, including three in the top 10."

Seoul National University is the biggest riser at the top of the table, moving from eighth in 2013 to fourth. Close behind is the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (rising two places to eighth). Pohang University of Science and Technology completes the top 10 trio, although it has lost ground since last year, falling five places to 10th.

Source: The Times of India, June 19, 2014
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Ten Indian universities including six IITs, AMU, JNU in Asia's top 100

India has dramatically improved its standing in the Times Higher Education Asia University 2014 rankings with 10 universities in the top 100 compared to just three last year. Panjab University tops the Indian list at joint 32nd position. Six of India's representatives are IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), but the list also includes Jadavpur University, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Japan aces the list in the rankings with 20 representatives in the top 100, though China is a close second with 18 institutes. South Korea is in the third spot with 14 universities while Taiwan falls to the fourth place from last year's second with 13 representatives.

India, however, is the clear winner in terms of improvement in rankings, a phenomenon attributed to Indian academic circles' growing engagement with the rankings process. Panjab University, which took top spot among Indian universities in Times Higher Education 2013-14 World University Rankings, has made its debut in the Asia rankings at the first place in India (joint 32nd on the list).

The alma mater of former PM Manmohan Singh is followed by IIT-Kharagpur (45th), IIT-Kanpur (55th), IIT-Delhi and IIT-Roorkee at joint 59th, IIT-Guwahati (74th) and IIT-Madras and Jadavpur University (joint 76th). Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University bring up the rear at 80th and 90th spots respectively.

"The country's increased engagement with the international agenda, particularly its decision to embrace global performance benchmarks and Times Higher Education's rankings, has dramatically improved its representation among Asia's top 100 universities. A drive to introduce systematic quality assurance and accreditation for the country's huge range of higher education institutions, plus plans to boost university research, should push it even further.

And the election of a majority government raises the prospect of further decisive action in the higher education sphere, cutting through the red tape that has untrammeled previous initiatives," said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings in a release.

Overall, five countries or regions are represented in the top 10: Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and China. The University of Tokyo is Asia's number one.

Source: The Economic Times, June 19, 2014
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NanoDegree: Higher education in 6 months

Could an online degree earned in six to 12 months bring a revolution to higher education? This week, AT&T and Udacity, the online education company in US founded by the Stanford professor and former Google engineering whiz Sebastian Thrun, announced something meant to be very small: the "NanoDegree." 

At first blush, it doesn't appear like much. For $200 a month, it is intended to teach anyone with a mastery of high school math the kind of basic programming skills needed to qualify for an entry-level position at AT&T as a data analyst, iOS applications designer or the like.

Yet this most basic of efforts may offer more than simply adding an online twist to vocational training. It may finally offer a reasonable shot at harnessing the web to provide effective schooling to the many young Americans for whom college has become a distant, unaffordable dream.

Intriguingly, it suggests that the best route to democratizing higher education may require taking it out of college. "We are trying to widen the pipeline," said Charlene Lake, an AT&T spokeswoman. "This is designed by business for the specific skills that are needed in business." Thrun sounded more ambitious about the ultimate goal: "It is like a university," he told me, "built by industry."

American higher education is definitely in need of some disruption. Once the leader in educational attainment, the US has been overtaken by a growing number of its peers.

Education still offers children from disadvantaged families their best chance at climbing the ladder of success. David H Autor of the MIT reports in a new study that in 2012 a typical family of graduates from a four-year college earned about $58,000 more than a family of high school graduates. But this very statistic underscores the depth of the nation's educational deficit. One reason for the enormous payoff from a college degree, which is almost twice as big as it was in 1979, Autor finds, is that too few young Americans — despite a bump in enrollment right after the Great Recession — ever earn one.

Employers have been complaining for years about a lack of skilled workers to fill jobs. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the skill level of the American work force is slipping dangerously behind other nations. And yet despite the promise of a higher wage, only about half of high school graduates from low-income families enrolled in college in 2012 — compared with 80% of high-income graduates. Worse, only a small share of them manage to finish.

Source: The Times of India, June 19, 2014
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

IIT-Delhi India's best, not in BRICS top 10 institutions

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) continue to represent the nation most successfully as far as quality of imparting higher education is concerned, according to the QS BRICS 2014 University Rankings published on Tuesday. The good news is that there are eight Indian institutions that have made it to the top 50. However, India is the only country that couldn't find a place in the top 10-which is the bad news.

There are five institutions, led by IIT-Delhi, in the top 20. Among institutions devoted to general studies, Delhi University is the highest ranked at 39, having bettered its last year's rank of 53 and beating last year's top-ranked Calcutta University which is now at 50.

The QS BRICS 2014 University Rankings compares the Top 200 institutions in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and has identified China as the most likely among BRICS nations to achieve its goal of developing world-class universities. The top-ranked university is Tsinghua University, followed by Peking University, both from China. In fact, China claims six of the Top 10 places, ahead of Brazil (two), Russia (one) and South Africa (one).

The overall rank of the top Indian player --- IIT-Delhi --- is 13 this year, which is no improvement from last year's rank. The other Indian universities in the Top 20 are IIT-Bombay (ranked 15), IIT-Kanpur (ranked 16, up from 17 last year), IIT-Madras (ranked 17, down from 16 in last year) and IIT-Kharagpur (ranked 20, down by two ranks from last year). In all, 20 Indian institutions have found a place on the list.

Delhi University has overtaken the University of Calcutta to become India's highest-ranked general studies institution, thanks to improvements in staffing levels and research citations. The University of Mumbai is ranked 68 this year, down by six ranks from last year.

Meanwhile, IIT-Kharagpur has a higher proportion of PhDs among its staff than any other university with three other Indian institutions also in the top five on this count. However, in overall staffing, only Manipal University is in the top 100.

Ben Sowter, Head of Research, THE-QS World University Rankings, says, "Indian universities have been struggling to keep pace with increasing demand for university education from the country's vast young population. There are now frequent calls for reform of the country's complex higher education system and for universities to become more transparent."

The new government has promised a national commission on education to reform and revitalize the sector and to make India a knowledge hub. The first copy of the QS University Rankings: BRICS 2014 was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Karthick Sridhar, Vice-Chairman, Indian Centre for Assessment and Accreditation (ICAA), said, "While it is sad to note India's absence in the Top 10, going by the excitement created by the new government, we believe that year 2015 will paint a different story."

"India is expected to be a $10 trillion economy by 2030, from the present $2 trillion. It will also be the most populous nation with over 130 million people in the college-going age bracket. The MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) under the new minister must mandate the IIT's and elite institutions to focus more on research, attract global talent and aspire for higher rankings and continue to shine a light of excellence on the global scale," added Sridhar.

Source: The Times of India, June 18, 2014
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Original Five IITs among Top 20 in BRICS University Rankings

The original group of five Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) — Delhi, Bombay, Kharagpur, Kanpur and Madras — are among the top 20 institutions in the 2014 QS University Rankings BRICS, which grades higher education institutions of the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Of the top 100 institutions, 20 were from India. Besides the IITs, they included University of Mumbai, University of Madras, Banaras Hindu University, Manipal University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, University of Pune, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Calcutta University, Delhi University, Allahabad University, Amity University, Anna University and Panjab University.

The parameters considered for the ranking included academic reputation, employer reputation, student-faculty ratio, PhD papers per faculty, citations per paper and international faculty.

This year again Chinese universities dominated the top 100 and the top 10, while Indian institutions were the leaders in recruiting highly qualified academic staff. IIT Kharagpur has a higher proportion of PhDs among its staff than any university in the five countries. In fact, three more Indian institutions feature among the top five on this measure. On overall staffing levels, only Manipal University appears among the top 100.

The five IITs had ranked among the first 20 on last year's list as well. At No. 13, Delhi topped Indian universities on the list, followed by IIT Bombay, Madras, Kanpur and Kharagpur, ranked in that order from 15 to 18. Earlier in the day, HRD Minister Smriti Irani presented the first copy of the 2014 rankings to Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister said there was a need to link research and education to the development needs of the country and stressed on the need for India to evolve an independent 'India Ranking' metric which can then involve the SAARC nations as the existing systems are skewed towards western and developed countries. Modi's suggestion was taken up for discussion by Irani during her day-long consultation with state higher and technical education ministers on Tuesday.

The dedicated ranking of higher education institutions of the BRICS countries was introduced in 2013. The project, developed by QS World University Rankings in collaboration with Russian news agency Interfax, was an effort to highlight and track progress made by these countries in the field of higher education and facilitate comparison of universities amongst these five countries that share certain socio-economic dynamics.

Source: The Economic Times, June 18, 2014
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Uttarakhand to host central university on Himalayan technology

A new Central University for Himalayan Technology with international faculty will be established in Uttarakhand, HRD minister Smriti Irani said on Tuesday. The minister also said there is need to launch Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyaan (National Innovation Movement) to make study of science interesting for children.

Addressing a conference of state secretaries of higher and technical education, Irani said a large number of institutes and universities are mushrooming in various parts of the country with no standard facilities or full faculty. She asked the states to monitor such institutes to ensure that they conform to the standards. The minister also supported a strong "Know Your College" drive whereby it would be possible to get details of colleges on the website, which would help students make right choices.

Irani sought the help of states to create an enabling environment for education of children in backward areas, tribal zones and among minorities, women and weaker sections. She said special steps are being taken by the HRD ministry to meet the needs of higher education of students from the North-east in the form of collaborative efforts with premier institutes.

Irani asked the states to revisit the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the light of their experiences. The fragmentation between the primary, secondary and higher education should be removed and skill development should start at the school level while continuing up to the higher levels, she added. Technology will be leveraged for empowering the students and teachers. For this, the ministry proposes to launch a large number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and also establish a national e-library by the end of this year, she said.

Irani said there should be a National Framework of Ranking of Universities & Colleges suited to the local conditions, circumstances and requirements. The Shaala Deep Programme of schools can also be replicated in colleges, she added. The representatives of states presented their state-specific issues as well as ideas to improve the quality of higher education.

Source: The Times of India, June 18, 2014
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