Monday, November 17, 2014

India to explore US assistance in setting up IIT campus

India and US today decided to boost cooperation in the field of higher education including exploring possible American assistance in setting up a new IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) campus. At the third India-US Higher Education Summit held here, the two countries also decided to focus on developing vocational skills by augmenting their cooperation in the field of community colleges.

The delegation-level meeting, attended by top officials as well as representatives from the private sector, was co-chaired by Higher Education Secretary Satyanarayan Mohanty and US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel.

Making a strong pitch for strengthening of vocational education, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Ved Prakash said, "We have instituted a large number of vocational colleges but a bigger push is required including in terms of available teaching force".

Earlier in the day, during a bilateral meet of the joint taskforce on community colleges, a decision was taken to develop a plan for implementation of the MoU signed between the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). A report was also released during the meet which reported a six per cent increase of Indian students studying at the US, taking the number to 1,20,000.

Calling for "democratisation of knowledge", Stengel stressed on the need for more MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). "More MOOCs will lead to a democratisation of knowledge that will help in overriding the elitism of universities and we need to explore whether MOOcs could be shared across platforms," he said.

Recalling the close assistance between the two countries during the setting up of IIT-Kanpur, Higher Education Additional Secretary Amarjeet Sinha said that more such assistance would be welcome. "On account of the partnership between IIT-Kanpur and US institutions, it stands where it does today. The government has announced plans in setting up five new IITs where more such cooperation would be welcome."

Agreeing to explore such an option, John Beed, Mission Director for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said, "It would be difficult to find a silicon valley firm that has not had the contribution of an IIT-Kanpur alumnus."

It was the third such dialogue in a row, after the first one held in Washington in June 2012 and the second one in New Delhi in June last year. The Dialogue explored various forms of collaboration between the two countries, especially in the fields of development of community colleges, massive open online courses, student and faculty exchange and skill development, said a statement of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

The dialogue was co-chaired by Secretary Higher Education Satya N Mohanty and US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel.

The US Department of State also announced the launching of the new Passport to India website (http://www.passporttoindia.com) in cooperation with the Ohio State University. The Passport to India initiative encourages young American leaders to seek out study and internship opportunities in India. The new website will also serve as a portal to help students identify these opportunities, the statement said.

Source: The Economic Times (Online edition), November 17, 2014)
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