Friday, October 31, 2014

MHRD to review Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided to review Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) following growing allegations of administrative mismanagement and other issues.

According to ministry sources, it has asked vice-chancellor of Central University of Gujarat Syed Bari to look into the wide range of allegations against the Ignou administration and its vice chancellor Mohammad Aslam.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report has also taken a very critical view of the functioning of the university. When contacted, Aslam said that he has no information about the development and that he has not received any intimation from the ministry.

IGNOU has been in news off late for the wrong reasons. Nearly 300,000 personnel of the armed forces were left in the lurch after it suspended the Community College Scheme under which the soldiers earned certificates and diplomas in various courses.

Prior to that, just after the success of Mars mission by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), IGNOU has decided to discontinue the ISRO Chair that undertook research in related fields citing lack of funds. The university also decided to discontinue other chairs including CV Raman Chair for science education, Mother Teresa Chair for social work, UNESCO Chair in technology and e-governance and the Vishveswarya Chair for work in education linkages.

Thousands of people across all age groups, many of whom have no access to formal education, have been left "teacherless" from October 1 after the All India Radio has taken off air all 37 Gyanvani educational FM Radio stations the teaching tool of IGNOU after the varsity allegedly failed to clear the outstanding dues. This sent shockwaves among those pursuing education through non-formal channels.

Aslam said that these chair were discontinued due to lack of sponsors. TOI in August reported how the three chairs set up at IGNOU to commemorate 150 years of the revolt of 1857 are lying vacant despite the culture ministry having released the funds. The chairs are in the names of last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, INA veteran Shahnawaz Khan and Kartar Singh Sarabha of Ghadar Party. The culture ministry allocated Rs. 20 million for Bahadur Shah Zafar chair in 2008 and Rs. 40 million for Shahnawaz Khan and Sarabha chairs in 2010.

Sources said norms for appointment were approved in 2011-12 by the IGNOU board of management and in January 2013, the chairs were transferred to be run by Indira Gandhi Centre for Freedom Struggle Studies under the School of Social Sciences in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University). Selections were also made in February 2013. But after Aslam took over as vice-chancellor in March 2013, the appointments were not cleared.

Source: The Times of India, October 31, 2014
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Indian universities miss out on another global ranking

Even as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) readies an India-centric ranking of higher educational institutions, just four Indian institutions figure on another list of top universities in the world. The inaugural global ranking by US education analysis and ranking website US News also reveals that no Indian institution can match up to the top 300 in the world.

University of Delhi, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kharagpur have been ranked 316th, 323rd, 405th and 484th, respectively. But University of Delhi and IISc, at 45th and 46th places respectively, figure among the top 50 institutions in Asia. IIT-Madras is not on the list.

Four of the top five institutions in the Global Universities Ranking are based in the US. Harvard University has occupied the first position, followed by MIT, University of California - Berkeley, and Stanford University. Oxford University in the UK comes fifth, followed by Cambridge University, California Institute of Technology, University of California - Los Angeles, University of Chicago and Columbia University. US News has been ranking US institutions for 30 years.

US News has listed out the top 500 institutions based on 10 indicators that measure their academic research performance and global and regional reputations. "Students can use these rankings to explore the higher education options that exist beyond their own countries' borders and to compare key aspects of schools' research missions," said a description of the rankings on the website.

Only institutions that were among the top 200 universities as per the Thomson Reuters' global reputation survey over the last five years were included in the ranking. The institutions also had to be among those which published the most number of articles in the last five years.

The institutions were then ranked based on 10 indicators that included global and regional research reputation, publications, normalised citation impact, total citations, number and percentage of highly cited papers, international collaboration, number of PhDs awarded and number of PhDs awarded per academic staff member.

Speaking about such rankings by international agencies earlier, IIT-Madras Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi had said, "Rankings are important. But we are finding that the parameters on which they are based are evolved to suit certain types of universities - globalised comprehensive ones. These are places where nearly half the students and faculty are from other parts of the world and where all subjects are taught. Most of the IITs only deal with engineering. We have a problem with the way such surveys are conducted."

He said internationalisation and subjective opinion carry a lot of weightage. The US News ranking gives 12.5% weightage each to global research reputation and regional research reputation. Moreover, India has no comprehensive university. In undergraduate education, India is mostly dependent on an affiliated college system.

The methodology of the new India-centric ranking system being evolved primarily by the IITs will not be much different from that used by organizations ranking universities across the world, Ramamurthi said. "We will look at employer reputation, faculty-student ratio and probably do an academic survey. We will ask the right questions," he said. The deadline for the India-centric ranking is the 2015 academic year. It will help students gauge the quality of Indian institutions, Ramamurthi added.

Source: The Times of India, October 30, 2014
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Infosys plans Masters, Doctorate programmes

Infosys is looking at creating an Infosys Masters — and may be even a Doctorate — programme. With the company under its new CEO Vishal Sikka attempting to move quickly up the technology value chain and build an enterprise based on intellectual property, it wants to raise the level of the programmes it offers, including at its sprawling training campus in Mysore.

"People can acquire credits taking courses, and if, say, over a 5-year period, they accumulate enough credit points, we will call them Infosys Master. Similarly, if people do something for ten years, we may call them Infosys Doctor. These are some of the things we are thinking out aloud," said U B Pravin Rao, COO of Infosys, in an hour long discussion with the TOI.

The company will have courses in newer technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud and analytics. The idea is to push its engineers to climb the technical ladder and take on senior technical roles.

Rao said the foundation training at the Mysore campus had been a big success. Infosys is now creating learning modules in different formats — courses that can be accessed in a classroom environment or online. "Employability increases through learning. When we conducted exit interviews with people, inevitably 9 out of 10 people talked glowingly about their experience in Mysore and the need for such continued engagement," Rao said.

The firm is also strengthening its learning programme through global university alliances. It has tied with D. School, the Institute of Design at Stanford, to train its employees in design thinking. It has partnered with the Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering (ICME) in Stanford to develop curriculum in data science and analytics and will undertake joint research to find solutions to key industry issues.

It has entered into an agreement with the University of Berlin to create an R&D centre focused on emerging technologies. Rao said the company would bring out cases based on experience in working with a diverse set of clients and work with the university to design curriculum. "We will look how we can apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve real world problems," he said.

Source: The Times of India, October 29, 2014
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wanted: 4 million teachers to achieve global primary education by 2015

There are at present there are 29 million primary teachers working in classrooms around the world. Still in order to achieve universal primary education by 2015, another four million teachers will be needed. And the present rate, if the goal is extended to 2030, there will be a need of 27.3 million more teachers.

Amidst this grim scenario where of the 650 million primary school age children in the world, 250 million are not learning the basics, in order to fill the chronic global shortage of teachers many countries are sacrificing standards and undermining progress by hiring people with little or no training. In fact in one-third of the countries less than 75% of the teachers are trained, thereby contributing little to the cause of quality primary education.

As per a new The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) policy paper prepared by Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR), it shows that at least 93 countries have an acute teacher shortage, and need to recruit some four million teachers to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

According to UNESCO data, India alone would need around 3 million primary teachers to achieve the universal primary education by 2015, second only to Nigeria.

If the deadline is extended to 2030, more than 27 million teachers need to be hired, 24 million of whom will be required to compensate for attrition, according to UIS data. At present rates, however, 28 (or 30%) of these 93 countries will not meet these needs. Sub-Saharan Africa faces the greatest teacher shortage, accounting for two-thirds of the new teachers needed by 2030. The problem is exacerbated by a steadily growing school-age population.

"A quality universal primary education will remain a distant dream for millions of children living in countries without enough trained teachers in classrooms," said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, "Teachers are the core of any education system. Hiring and training new and already established teachers is fundamental to protecting children's ability to learn in school."

"Putting well-intentioned instructors in front of huge classrooms and calling them teachers will not deliver our ambitions to have every child in school and learning," said Aaron Benavot, Director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report.

Among the Asian countries, the situation is alarming in India as per the UNESCO data. While by 2015 Pakistan needs 1.56 million teachers, Bangladesh needs around three lakh teachers. According to the policy paper, countries must ensure that all new teacher candidates have completed at least secondary education. Yet the GMR shows that the numbers of those with this qualification in many countries are in short supply: eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa would have to recruit at least 5% of their secondary school graduates into the teaching force by 2020. Niger would need to recruit up to 30%.

Source: The Times of India, October 25, 2014
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Mumbai University 9th in list of billionaire alumni, above MIT

Majority of the billionaires alive today finished their undergraduate studies from an American university. But in an interesting finding, the University of Mumbai has emerged as the only entry in the top 10 list of universities that is not American.

The list of "Which Universities Produce The Most Billionaires" is heavily dominated by US universities with 16 of the top 20 entries. Ranked 9th, the University of Mumbai however figures higher than MIT, NYU or even the University of Michigan or Columbia.

Twenty-five billionaires obtained their bachelor's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, making it the top university in the world in terms of number of billionaire undergraduate alumni according to this year's Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census released on Thursday. It is followed by Harvard University with 22 billionaires, Yale with 20 billionaire alumni, University of Southern California with 16, Princeton and Cornell with 14 billionaire alumni.

The annual study also showed that higher education is not a prerequisite to achieving billionaire status as 35% of the 2,325 billionaires in the world have not obtained a tertiary-level degree. Notable university dropouts include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. Both walked out of Harvard during their undergraduate years to start their businesses. 


The top eight in the list are American colleges. The only entry to break this monotony is the University of Mumbai which is ranked 9th and has produces 12 billionaires. Interestingly, only one British university figure in the top 20 list and it is not Oxford or Cambridge. London School of Economics (LSE) is ranked 10th and has produced 11 billionaires.

Among those billionaires who hold a tertiary-level degree, 42% graduated with a bachelor's degree, 26% have a master's degree, 21% finished their MBA and 11% attained a PhD.

Apart from LSE, Lomonosov Moscow State University (11th rank) and ETH Zurich in Switzerland (20th rank) are other schools outside the US that made it to the top 20 billionaire schools list.

The Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 makes an interesting finding - more than a quarter of the billionaires who obtained their undergraduate degrees in the 16 American universities on the list were born outside of the United States. Nearly 40% who attended these top American schools for their post-graduate studies were not US citizens.

Indian billionaires recently threw up an interesting trend found nowhere else in the world — knowing ones roots. Despite popular notions of billionaires being jet-setting, cosmopolitan individuals, most Indian billionaires are still based in the same locations where they were raised. Around 95% of Indian billionaires, who currently have their primary business in India, also grew up there. The trend globally is very different.

Around 23% or just 1 in 4 billionaires globally have the same home city as the city of their primary business. Only 39% of all billionaires globally have the same home state as the state of their primary business. Billionaire hotspots such as Singapore, Switzerland and Hong Kong have emerged as favoured destinations for the ultrarich. However, only 36, 34, and 25% of their billionaire populations respectively, grew up in these countries.

Interestingly, 3 out of every 10 billionaires in India don't even have a college degree.

Only 3% of Indian billionaires are female, the joint lowest of any focus country. The majority of Indian billionaires are college-educated with 72% possessing at least a bachelor's degree (Switzerland and the US are the only other two focus countries that have a higher proportion of university-educated billionaires).

Mumbai was recently ranked 11th in the top 20 billionaire cities being home to 28 billionaires. New York led the list with 103 billionaires.

The report says that the world's billionaire population reached a record high of 2,325 billionaires this year, a 7% rise from 2013. The combined wealth of this ultra afflent tier increased to $7.3 trillion, a 12% rise from last year. Interestingly, 63% of billionaires' primary businesses are privately held and 81% of all billionaires made all or the majority of their wealth themselves, telling us that entrepreneurialism and private wealth are keys to billionaires' success. According to forecasts, the global billionaire population will surpass 3,800 by 2020.

Billionaires — defined as those individuals with a net worth of US $1 billion or above — control nearly 4% of the world's wealth. There is only one billionaire for every three million people on the planet. Although the overall size of the billionaire population is small, the impact of billionaires on the global economy is significant.

Between 2011 and 2013, the growth in the wealth of the world's billionaires accounted for 40% of the growth in total ultra-high net worth (UHNW) wealth — although billionaires only comprise 1% of the global UHNW population. Between July 2013 and June 2014, the billionaire population grew by 7% to reach 2,325, an all-time record high. The combined wealth of the world's billionaires increased by 12% to $7.3 trillion.

Source: The Times of India, October 24, 2014
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Monday, October 13, 2014

UK announces 396 scholarships worth Rs. 150 million for Indian students

The United Kingdom government has announced the Great Britain Scholarships — India 2015 and Great Scholarships Guide as part of the 'Great Britain' campaign (GREAT).

The scholarships will be available for varied subject areas ranging from engineering, law and business to art and design and biosciences across 57 institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, a statement issued by the British Council said. Around 396 scholarships worth Rs. 15 crore (Rs. 150 million) are on offer and are tenable for September 2015 and January 2016 intakes.

Launched in February 2012, GREAT is a strategic international marketing programme designed to promote the UK to business, tourism and student markets worldwide. With over 750 awarded in the last two years, the GREAT Britain Scholarships — India is the largest scholarships programme offered to Indian students.

British Council has also launched the GREAT Scholarships Guide 2015, designed to assist students with their scholarship search and on important aspects that students need to keep in mind while applying.

The guide includes a list of participating institutions, details about the scholarships across different courses and universities, details about the upcoming GREAT UK Education Seminars and Education UK Exhibitions and a list of useful websites on studying and living in the UK.

The statement said UK enjoys a global reputation of the second most desired destination for higher education with over 330,000 foreign students from over 200 countries, including around 24,000 from India.

Source: The Times of India, October 13, 2014
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Monday, October 06, 2014

Mumbai spends most on studies in US, Delhi at No. 3

Thousands of youngsters from all over the world head for the United States every year in pursuit of an American degree, spending a fortune to enter the freshmen classrooms in universities across the US. Indian students alone accounted for at least $3 billion between 2008 and 2012, according to a report released by Brookings Institution.

Seoul, which sent the largest number of students to the US (56,500) during this period spent the most, $2.1 billion. Beijing and Shanghai were second and third, followed by Mumbai, which forked out $655 million as most students flew to elite universities for their masters.

Interestingly, Hyderabad ranks fifth despite sending more students than Mumbai because the former spent a tad less at $645 million as many of its students signed up for non-ranked schools in the US which are comparatively cheaper.

The contrast between the students from the two Indian cities is reflected in the fact that while Mumbai, which sent 17,294 students, invested more in tuition, the southern city, which saw 26,220 fly out, spent more on living expenses, says the report titled "The geography of foreign students in US higher education: origins and destinations".

"I think they (Mumbai students) are different from students from Hyderabad since most of them are going to "top schools" in the US such as USC, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology whereas students from Hyderabad are going to non- ranked, non-accredited, mostly for-profit schools or schools that were closed down because of fraud like Tri-Valley, University of Northern Virginia," said Neil Ruiz, Associate Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution.

Clearly, the United States which hosts over 800,000 international students or 21 per cent of all students studying abroad worldwide, is the market leader in international education even as several Asian nations are also now vying for the education pie.

Foreign students from middle, low- and upper middle-income cities accounted for 77 per cent of the total educational expenses from F-1 students studying for a bachelor's, masters' and doctoral degrees in US metropolitan areas, the report noted.

In all, 85 per cent of foreign students pursuing a bachelor's or a higher degree attended colleges and universities in 118 metro areas that collectively accounted for 73 per cent of US higher education students. They contributed approximately $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in other spending —representing a major services export — to those metropolitan economies over the five-year period.

In the same time frame, Delhi which sent the largest proportion of students to the US for their bachelor's spent about $ 350 million. Most students went to top schools like Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University in the city of New York, Purdue University, University of Illinois and University of Southern California.

Bangalore, Chennai and Pune follow, with most candidates heading out for a master's degree. It is not clear if students paid the entire sum or got a free ride to college. "The values represent the "sticker price" of an education for each individual student on F-1 visa during the 2008-2012 period. It does not take into account any sponsorship/scholarship etc, since the data does not show that," said Ruiz.

Source: The Times of India, October 6, 2014
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Friday, October 03, 2014

1,000 US academics to teach in Indian universities

After planning to rope in scientists from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to take classes in schools and colleges, India is now looking at American academics for teaching in different Indian universities.

The idea is to invite and host up to 1,000 American academics every year to teach in centrally-recognized Indian universities. The academics - mainly from the field of science and innovations -- may visit India at their convenience.

The US agreed to the proposal during the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

The India-US joint statement, issued after the meeting, said, "The President (Obama) welcomed India's proposal to establish the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN or knowledge) under which India would invite and host up to 1,000 American academics each year to teach in centrally-recognized Indian universities, at their convenience."

Referring to the proposal, officials said the modalities to invite US academics and assign them specific Indian university for teaching on short-term basis will be worked out by the human resource development ministry in consultation with the science and technology ministry that has recently come out with a similar plan to use domestic talent for the same task.

"Purpose of such initiative is to expose Indian students to the experience and expertise of the best of Indian scientists and US academicians," said an official.

The science and technology ministry had last month made it mandatory for over 5,000 scientists, working in different central agencies including the country's premier R&D body CSIR, to undertake 12 hours of lecture classes in an academic year in public-funded schools and colleges across the country.

The Indo-US joint statement has identified many other areas where both the countries would cooperate with each other in the field of science and expand their joint activities in "innovative technology".

It said, "The leaders (Modi-Obama) committed to partner on the 'Digital India' initiative, with the goal of enhancing digital infrastructure, deploying e-governance and e-services, promoting industry collaboration, and digitally empowering India's citizens. They also agreed in principle to initiate cooperative activities to increase capacity in cancer research and patient care delivery, including by developing collaborative programs for and with India's upcoming AIIMS-National Cancer Institute."

Besides, the US will, for the first time, be a partner country at India's annual Technology Summit next month. In addition, both the countries also committed to convene the ninth 'High Technology Cooperation Group' and plan to launch new partnerships to "source and scale innovation for the benefit of citizens".

Source: The Times of India, October 3, 2014
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