Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Knowledge Power: India-U.S. Higher Education Summit next year

Education continues to be an important area of cooperation for India and the United States. On Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama announced the decision to host a Higher Education Summit next year.

"Building on our successful efforts to expand educational exchanges, including our Singh-Obama 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, we will convene a summit to forge new collaborations in higher education," U.S. President Barack Obama said in his opening statement at the joint press conference.

The summit, chaired by HRD minister Kapil Sibal and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will bring together top education leaders from both countries to discuss areas of cooperation and concerns. The summit is part of the U.S.-India Cooperation on Education agreed to last November during Prime Minister Singh's state visit to the U.S. The cooperation includes three initiatives --- enhanced India-U.S. strategic partnership in education, Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship expansion and the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative.

Progress on the education initiatives has been slow. Senior HRD officials have attributed the delays to putting a legal framework in place. Parliament is yet to pass the foreign education providers' bill which will make it possible for foreign education institutions to set up campuses in India. It is clear that top drawer institutions are unlikely to set up campuses in India, but Indian institutions can expect greater faculty and student exchange and interaction as well as collaborative research.

During his recent visit to India, Yale president Richard C. Levin had said that his university would not be setting up campus in this country. A fact reiterated by his counterparts in Ivy league universities like Cornell. Experts say that once the legal framework for educational reforms are in place, there could be greater interaction among universities.

India-U.S. education summits led by institutions and associations have been held in the past, but Monday's announcement is the first time that governments of the two countries will hold summit level talks on education. Both Prime Minister Singh and President Obama have emphasized the need to focus on collaboration in education as a key component of the Indo-U.S. partnership which both leaders have defined as one of the "defining partnerships of the 21st century." The summit is aimed at providing greater momentum to reforms that can facilitate further deepening of ties in the sector.

Source: The Economic Times, November 9, 2010
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