Thursday, October 07, 2010

U.S. varsity keen on partnering with innovation universities

India's plan to enlist international institutes to partner its proposed innovation universities has received a boost, with the University of Illinois from the U.S. expressing interest. The university's interim Chancellor Robert A. Easter and three of his colleagues, including Assistant Vice-Chancellor for public engagement Pradeep Khanna, met Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal on Monday to discuss a partnership, according to two ministry officials.

India has decided to set up 14 innovation universities, which will be research-oriented campuses that will not be controlled by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the university regulator. Each university will have a theme to focus on.

"Illinois University is interested for partnering with an innovation university with bio-science and agriculture (as its focus theme)," said one of the two officials cited above. The official, who didn't want to be named, said although Sibal had received some positive signals from U.S. educational institutes during his visit to that country last month, this is the first time that a leading university had sent a delegation to India to discuss the proposal. The second official said foreign collaboration and funding will "boost higher education through a research-oriented mindset", adding that Easter was told to be in touch with the government's Department of Biotechnology for a detailed discussion. He also didn't want to be named.

As reported by Mint on August 3, the draft bill to set up the innovation institutions allows each university to set its own policy to attract faculty members from India and abroad and hire them directly, offering wages and perks that it deems fit.

The proposed innovation universities will have the potential to develop into leading research hubs, making them attractive to foreign educational institutions, said Narayanan Ramaswamy, Executive Director (Education) at consulting firm KPMG India. "Hence, these are the right place to invest (in)," he said.

Source: Mint, October 7, 2010
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