Monday, November 22, 2010

India in top 4 among B-school destinations

That the U.S. and the U.K. are the most popular destinations for management studies is not big news. But the findings of a survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts GMAT, a B-school entrance test used globally, have thrown up some surprises. Number 4 on the list of the Top 10 preferred destinations for B-school aspirants is India, with Canada at number 3. Israel and Spain are the other surprise entrants.

According to experts, India's foray into the elite league has a lot to do with the emergence of institutions such as the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, which was ranked No. 12 globally in the Financial Times (London) Global MBA rankings earlier this year. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), which use GMAT as an entrance test for their executive MBA programmes, are also responsible for India's popularity.

"B-school aspirants are looking at a return on their investment, and with the investment being lower for management education in India when compared to the U.S. and the U.K., the returns are higher," said an expert. Many feel that India can soon emerge as a hub for management studies amongst Asian countries such as Singapore and the Philippines as the country will be a far less expensive destination than western giants.

Although making it to the U.S. has, for long, been the great Indian dream, it is not the only North American country that's attracting desi students. Many are now making a beeline for Canada, which not only has a robust economy and liberal visa policies but also promises good job prospects. "In testing year 2010, India was the top foreign country that sent score reports to Canadian graduate management programmes," reveals GMAC's survey.

According to the report, 78% of full-time MBA programmes in Canada received the largest number of foreign applications from Indians. Not surprisingly, all Canadian management programmes that recruited foreigners targeted India, as did 44% of European programmes that undertook special recruitment efforts to attract overseas candidates.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), November 22, 2010

100,000 students to take AIEEE online

The All India Engineering / Architecture Entrance Examination (AIEEE) goes online from next year. One lakh (100,000) student will get the opportunity to appear for the first online AIEEE to be conducted in April 2011 as a pilot run. According to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) officials, the idea is to scale it up to a complete online examination in a year or two. This will make AIEEE world's largest online examination.

AIEEE is conducted by CBSE for admission to various National Institute of Technologies (NITs), Indian Institute of Information Technologies (IIITs), deemed universities and for a few state institutions. Last year, over 12 lakh (1.2 million) students appeared for the examination, making it the world's largest entrance test.

According to CBSE officials, the pen and paper based test will be conducted on April 24, 2011 across 84 cities in India as well as in Dubai and Riyadh. Meanwhile, the date sheet for the online test, which is going to be conducted across select 20 cities in India, is yet to be prepared. Though sale of information bulletins will start from December 15 from various branches of banks, institutions and regional offices of CBSE, those willing to apply online can submit online applications from November 23, 2010. Each select 20 cities will conduct the online exam for 5,000 students.

Speaking to TOI, CBSE Chairman Vineet Joshi said: The exam will not be conducted over internet and it will be a Computer Based Test (CBT) in line with the likes of CAT. Like the CAT, the online exam will be conducted over a period of time, the datesheet for which is under preparation and we are waiting for the completion of registration of online applicants. But unlike CAT, the online option is not compulsory and the first 100,000 who opt for it will be allowed to take the test online. The rest of the students will have to appear as per our conventional method. We want to assure all aspirants and security aspect is a priority which is why we are doing a pilot run," Joshi said.

Source: The Times of India, November 22, 2010

India hunts among PIOs, NRIs to fill faculty posts

A weak Western economy has raised the hopes of top Indian institutions scouting to fill faculty positions. Even as the setting up of a government fund to attract academic superstars from abroad is in limbo, Indian embassies and high commissions have been roped in to sell the dream of a classroom called India, to young Ph.D. fellows.

Interestingly, the embassies have also obliged and set up video conferencing facilities for heads of Indian institutes to connect with Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) interested in moving back to teach. India, which is constantly paralleled to China, has probably not been able to empty out Ivy League institutes of their Nobel laureates and top-notch professors, but is finally seeing some success in persuading fresh Ph.D. graduates to return home.

Probably hence, the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) have designed bright advertisements and sent them to Indian embassies and high commissions in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Italy, Austria and Japan. Come back, they say, back to where you belong.

Tech schools, which have been perpetually plagued by faculty shortage, are receiving a flood of applications. "There is currently an overflow of applicants wanting to teach in our institutes, as employment opportunities for Ph.D. fellows in the U.S. and Europe are not very bright," said IIT-Delhi Director Surendra Prasad.


In fact, IIT-Delhi has been conducting interviews with prospective candidates on Skype, and has been able to draw some bright Indians back home. None of the eight new IITs set up in 2008 and 2009 have been able to fill their sanctioned faculty posts.

Source: The Times of India, November 22, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Murthy's Catamaran eyes Manipal stake: Set to be Premji's co-investor in edu group

Three decades after N.R. Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji failed to find common ground to work together, co-founder of Infosys may soon be a co-investor with his information technology peer and Wipro chairman in an education venture. Catamaran, a proprietary venture capital fund of Murthy, is prospecting a potential investment in Manipal Universal Learning, in which PremjiInvest infused US$ 42 million almost two years ago. Catamaran is evaluating a deal even as Manipal, an Indian cross-border education story, is mulling a big-ticket initial public offering (IPO), possibly within the next 18 months.

The discussions pertaining to a possible investment are still in early stages and the details remain sketchy even though sources familiar with the situation said Catamaran could invest up to US$ 10 million. While PremjiInvest has a committed corpus of nearly US$ 1 billion, Catamaran is a smaller US$ 129 million fund, tracking venture investments. The possibility of having Murthy and Premji as investors could well be a coup for Manipal, which is looking at the capital market.

Before Murthy founded Infosys, he had a meeting with Premji for heading Wipro's then nascent IT business. The meeting,obviously, went nowhere, with Premji later dubbing the encounter as just a drink at Welllington Club, and finding Murthy too high-powered for us and Murthy very happily admitting, "He rejected me. But I am very grateful to him for that."

Global success and billions later, the two might come together at Manipal Universal Education. However, Catamaran's investment head Arjun Narayan said the fund will not comment on speculation as a matter of policy, while Manipal Education MD Ranjan Pai said, "There is nothing as of now." Manipal Universal Learning is part of the Rs. 2000-crore (Rs. 20 billion) Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), which is a strategic player in education and healthcare services. There is an intent on the part of Catamaran and Manipal to strike a deal, but it depends on how the IPO story develops, another source added.

Pai declined to comment any further stating that his company's board will have to meet and discuss on IPO and then go in for formal discussions with bankers. However, informed sources said Manipal Education could be looking at US$ 1-1.25 billion valuation for its public offering, which could be launched in the second-half of FY12. Informal discussions have been under way with bankers, they added.

Manipal's education revenues could touch US$ 250 million by FY12. Its revenue is equally split between India and overseas operations, which include a large acquired campus in the Caribbean island of Antigua. The other international campuses are spread across Dubai, Malaysia and Nepal. In January this year, Murthy's Catamaran made its maiden investment in a pre-IPO deal with SKS Microfinance, where it invested Rs. 28 crore (Rs. 280 million) for a 1.3% stake. Catamaran picked up the stake at a steep discount to the issue price as SKS looked at roping in marquee investors ahead of the IPO. Last year, Murthy sold shares worth Rs. 174.3 crore, or US$ 37 million.

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2010

Tech hiring to hit record highs

With campus recruitments by technology companies only weeks away, early indicators suggest this year recruitments may touch a historic high, as top Indian tech majors, including TCS, Infosys and Wipro, will alone recruit close to 100,000 engineers, if not more. Back-of-the-envelope analysis, coupled with stated recruitment plans of the IT biggies, shows that December-January will be action-packed at engineering college campuses, not to mention the impact that MNC biggies like Accenture and IBM will have.

"According to our original plans, we were to recruit 30,000 people this fiscal, but we will close the current year with 50,000 persons added. For the next fiscal, we could hire as much as this year, if not more," said N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and MD of TCS, which has a total employee headcount of 177,000 people. TCS follows a policy where it recruits 70% of its annual intake from campuses. The company recruited 24,000 persons in the fiscal ended March 2010.

NASSCOM, the industry body for software companies, has laid down ground rules for campus recruitments under which member-companies are allowed to enter campus only at the beginning of the eighth semester of engineering. Going by recruitment data and growth projections, most tech majors began 2010 with conservative estimates of manpower required but gradually scaled up their targets as the year progressed.

At the beginning of this fiscal, Infosys had said it would recruit 30,000 but hiked the figure to 40,000 by September-end. The annual report of Infosys says in the previous year (2009-10), the company interviewed 61,000 people and made 26,200 job offers. As of March 2010, Infosys and its subsidiaries had an employee strength of approximately 113,800 employees, of which 106,900 are technology professionals, including trainees.

Shankar Srinivasan, Chief People Officer, Cognizant, told TOI, "In the last one year (from October 2009 to September 2010), we saw a net addition of over 27,500 employees. We continue to be active in campuses as well as in the lateral market (hiring of experienced professionals). We ended the September 2010 quarter with approximately 95,600 employees globally."

"A 20% growth rate in the industry will lead to total demand of around 310,000 employees. Part of this will include employees joining from fields like MBA and accounts, and some employees will be hired locally onsite," Ashish Chopra, analyst with Motilal Oswal, said.

On the assumption that Cognizant, Wipro and HCL Tech will recruit as much in the forthcoming recruitment season if not more than they did in 2009-10, there are bound to be fireworks at engineering colleges. "We have never seen such large scale recruitment numbers. This is clearly the highest levels that I have seen in the past 10 years of campus," a campus recruitment watcher told TOI. Placement officers and institutional administrators in Tamil Nadu too are upbeat that IT majors such as TCS and Infosys have revised manpower projections for the coming year.

"This is fantastic news. I am excited at this (revised HR projections). This is something that must keep not just placement officers, students, job seekers and job providers happy but the nation as a whole as the job sector is looking up," says Jayakumar, former Deputy Registrar (Placements and Training) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

However, pay packages at campuses might not witness any significant uptick despite the surge in recruitments. An entry-level engineer is likely to get Rs. 300,000 to 325,000 as a starting offer, while a post-grad engineer may get an additional Rs. 20,000. Likewise, Professor S. Gowri, Registrar of Anna University of Technology, to which over 150 engineering colleges are affiliated in Chennai and surrounding regions, says "while it is appreciable that the job market is looking up, much will depend on the kind of jobs they provide."

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2010

New Silk to invest $70m in Chaitanya edu group

The US$ 1.4 billion New Silk Route (NSR) Private Equity is close to investing Rs. 325 crore (Rs. 3.25 billion) or roughly US$ 70 million, in Hyderabad-based Sri Chaitanya Educational Group, one of the country's largest network of private schools and junior colleges, at least two persons familiar with the development said.

This could be till date among the biggest foreign investments in India's education sector that is beginning to see a robust deal flow. NSR is an Asia-focused PE fund spearheaded by ex-McKinsey honcho Rajat Gupta, a former global head of Citi Victor Menezes and Parag Saxena.

The fund has issued a term-sheet (a document guiding legal counsel to a final agreement) and is in the midst of due diligence. The transaction, which will see the fund picking up between 33% to 49% stake, could be clinched within the next 45 days, said one banking source who declined to be identified since talks are private.

Sri Chaitanya runs around 160 institutions, mostly in Andhra Pradesh, including 116 schools and junior collages. The 25-year-old group had mandated Ernst & Young to raise funds after spurning buyout offer from a large southern corporate house with interest in education. A senior official at New Silk Route declined to comment. "Nothing yet. We will let you know when something happens," said YLV Sridhar, Finance Director at Chaitanya when contacted.

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2010

Placements at FMS, Delhi set a new record

Summer placements at Delhi University's Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) have broken all records this year. All 235 students from two MBA courses got placements for two months in 91 companies in just five days. There was an increase of 150% in the highest stipend this year with an investment banking firm offering Rs. 250,000 to two students. In fact, the average stipend this year is Rs. 85000, which is an increase of almost 42% from last year.

Professor A. Venkat Raman, Placement Convener, FMS, said: "We are satisfied with the summer internship offers this year. Apart from roles in finance and marketing which have been the traditional strongholds, we also witnessed significant diversity in the profiles offered." According to FMS, a record number of 145 companies had confirmed their presence in the placement drive this year, though 91 finally visited the campus. The rest could not visit the campus as all students had already been placed. "This year the response of the companies and the offers they made have been much better. We also got companies which havent been coming for summer placements for the last couple of years," said Nagraj Chandrasekar, Media Coordinator, FMS.

This time, we had more private equity firms which are known to pay more. This explains the steep rise in the stipends this time, he said. Chandrasekar said coveted profiles like treasury, HR and risk management were offered, besides the traditional ones. No wonder, students are upbeat about the placement scene this year. According to them, summer jobs help companies discover the best talents on.

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

IIMs want more girls, non-engineering students

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are now looking to rope in more girl students and those with non-engineering background to get a more diversified variety on their rolls. Directors of five IIMs from across the country held a conference and felt the need to change the quantitative bias in the Common Admission Test (CAT) to draw in more students in their classrooms from diverse academic backgrounds.

Giving a wrap-up of the discussion, Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIM-C) Director Sekhar Chowdhury said the issues would be dealt with seriously though it was not yet certain that the changes could take place from next year's CAT. "In many cases, despite efforts to get in students from other backgrounds, the number of engineering students has increased. The blame is on our admission process. We need to change how we admit students and how CAT is organized," said IIM-Lucknow Director Devi Singh.

Singh said though a large section of the faculty would not have been favourably disposed to the idea of having a greater diversity in students, "now the realization has dawned on them and in the next few years we may see a change in the system." IIM-Bangalore Sirector Pankaj Chandra felt girl students found the CAT examination with its stress on mathematics a deterrent. "That's the reason many girl students do not sit for the entrance test."

Statistics show that about 200,000 students take the annual CAT examination for admission to 2000 seats in the country's ten IIMs. Of them, the percentage of engineers gaining entry into the premier B-Schools is over 90 per cent, while the percentage of female students is only 10-15 per cent taking all the IIMs together.

Chowdhury said while the world has a nearly 50:50 ratio of men and women, "why cannot we have a similar or more or less equal representation in the classroom? After all, the class should represent life." He said on the contrary, private management institutes had a 40-45 per cent girl students.

Source: The Economic Times, November 15, 2010

India loses top spot in U.S. universities to China

A popular wisecrack goes that Indian students particularly engineers catch a flight to the U.S. for higher education immediately after their graduation ceremony. There's always been some truth in that humorous exaggeration; from 2000, particularly, there have been more Indian students on U.S. campuses than from any other country. But in 2010, China seems to have upstaged India on campus.

In the late 1990s, Chinese students dominated the foreign student population in the U.S. before being overtaken by Indians. This year, data released by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reveals that after a year of zero growth, when U.S. universities saw no rise in the number of foreign students, international enrollments are up marginally. But the largest contributor has been China. In fact, this year, the U.K. has issued 57,500 visas to Indian students, almost double the 32,000 visas issued by the U.S.

The CGS data shows that in 2009 and 2010, fresh enrolments from India fell sharply. This year, the United Kingdom seems to have replaced the U.S. as the favourite education destination for Indians.
Findings on fresh admissions reveal that both offers of admission to prospective students from India as well as admissions have fallen in 2010, the former by 5% and the latter by 3%.

The council's findings on fresh annual enrollments are different from those released by the International Institute of Education (IIE) --- the latter maps all of the total international students on campuses in the U.S., irrespective of their year of arrival. But it is CGS's figures that give the real indication of annual student movement to the U.S. According to CGS, China, India, South Korea and the Middle East, and Turkey, in that order, now make up the key student-sending countries to the U.S.

While first-time graduate enrolments declined 3% for both South Korean and Indian students in 2010, the free fall that occurred last year has slowed, the report notes. But even after three consecutive years of decline in first-time enrolment numbers from India, there are more Indian students in U.S. graduate schools today than there were in 2005.

In fact, the dropping enrolments forced the IIE to conduct a survey on Indians perceptions of the U.S. as an educational destination. The weaknesses listed included the soaring cost of tuition, cost of school application process and the fact that the U.S. was further from home as compared to the U.K.

Source: The Times of India, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bridging the gap between varsity and school of life

As president of the John Hopkins University, Daniel Coit Gilman, one of the pioneers of the American education system, practiced what he preached. In 1878, two years after he took office, he started the Universitys press. It remains America's oldest, continuously operating university press.

Having your own press has become something of a tradition with western universities. From Harvard and Yale in the U.S. to Oxford and Cambridge in the U.K., university presses transmit knowledge of research, new thinking and big ideas worldwide. Not so in India. Few Indian institutions have a robust publishing programme and even fewer their own press. T.V. Rao, a professor at IIM-Ahmedabad, which initiates its publishing programme on Monday, says there are many reasons for this, not least an "over-dependence on foreign publications." IIM-A is starting with a series of business books.

Rao adds that Indian institutions lack of interest in original publishing is also because they have little to publish. Professors have heavy teaching loads and little time to write, he says. But change might make good business sense. According to estimates, the market for academic publishing in India is huge. "There are two markets at the university level in India textbook and reference. The textbook market in English is around Rs. 600 crore (Rs. 6 billion) and the reference / academic around Rs. 200 crore (Rs. 2 billion). The total would range from Rs. 800 to 1,000 crore (Rs. 8 to 10 billion)," says Rajiv Beri, Managing Director of educational publishers Macmillan India.

The opportunity for universities to leverage their expertise to produce quality publications exists. So, why haven't many of them utilized it Lack of initiative is a major reason, says Anuj Bahri Malhotra of Delhi-based India Research Press. "Most universities are simply not bothered. Those among the faculty who want to publish their research simply go to foreign universities and get it done as it looks good on their resume. In fact, the irony is that the bulk of the academic writing being done in foreign universities is by Indians."

Some say the academic environment here at home may not be encouraging enough. "A lot depends on the encouragement and assistance provided for producing publication work. Traditional universities are lagging behind in their faculty authorship contributions, although institutes which encourage book writing like BITS Pilani, IIMs and IITs have prolific authorship," says Macmillan's Beri.

But the reason cited most often is lack of resources. "Many universities have a small budget for publications. If they have received Rs. 500 crore (Rs. 5 billion) from the University Grants Commission (UGC) for a financial year, very few would want to put even a few lakhs in publishing," says Parmil Mittal, former president of the Delhi State Booksellers' and Publishers' Association.

The reluctance may be understandable. Publishing is a capital-intensive and competitive business. Chiki Sarkar, Editor-in-Chief of Random House India, which worked on the IIM Business Books series, says that "it takes a lot of resources to invest in a publishing division in-house. Probably for most Indian universities, this may not be a priority. That's why tying up with a publisher makes the best sense."

This often makes sense for authors as well. Nayanjot Lahiri, professor in Delhi University's history department, believes that many university authors prefer working with a publishing house, which has professional editors who can transform manuscripts if they are good. "Also, the distribution network of such publishing houses is much wider than what a university publishing programme could offer. Naturally, every author would want to be read as widely as possible," she adds.

Some universities have internalized this. The Kolkata-based Jadavpur University recently announced plans to start its own university press by early next year. Pradip Kumar Ghosh, the University's registrar says that it will probably be in collaboration with a publishing house. "It's a huge task setting up a publications division, but we felt it's high time we did it. Ours is a university that is strong in research and there is a dearth of good publications in areas we specialize in, like engineering. This initiative should address it and also inspire other universities to follow suit." A beginning, and hopefully, a good one.
(This article written by Atul Sethi, Times News Network.)

Source: The Times of India, November 14, 2010

66% children want to go abroad for studies

A survey of 10,000 children from classes VIII to XII or ages 12 to 18 spread across 11 cities in India has found that the kids may not be as money-obsessed in their career aspirations as they are often made out to be. Over 60% spend on average less than an hour a day on the net and 83% get less than Rs. 1,000 a month as pocket money, about two-thirds getting less than Rs. 500.

The survey was conducted among children predominantly from English-medium schools in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Coimbatore and Bhubaneswar. It was conducted by TCS among those who participate in its IT Wiz quiz contest every year. To that extent, the survey reflects a particular kind of child, but the trends do perhaps tell us something about the bigger picture.

What was particularly interesting in the survey findings was the fact that the responses from those from the relatively smaller cities were almost identical to those from the bigger metros. Over two-thirds of the students said they would like to go abroad to study at some point and here the figure (74%) was significantly higher for the mini-metros than for the metros (66%), a pointer to the growing aspirations in the smaller cities. Also, while a generation ago, most would have thought of doing their post-graduation abroad, now a majority want to do their graduation or even their high school abroad.

While the home remains the primary point of access for the internet, cyber cafes and mobile phones too are used for getting on to the net by over 50% in each case. Not surprisingly, 85% say they are on some social networking site or the other, the vast majority naming several.

As you would expect of students of this profile, about four-fifths have computers at home as well as mobile phones, but what might be less obvious is the finding that almost two-thirds also have a digital camera and an iPod or other digital music player. For those fond of stereotypes, here is one that finally seems to be true: Gen-Next is indeed as gizmo-crazy as all have believed it is.

Source: The Times of India, November 14, 2010

Oxford, IIM-A join forces to take the sting out of mosquitoes

A major breakthrough in the fight against dengue and chikungunya is in the offing, as Oxford University researchers, in association with Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), are testing the potential of genetically modified mosquitoes to curb the killer diseases at a Chennai containment facility.

Oxitec, part-owned Oxford biotechnology company, has conducted a preliminary trial on the mosquitoes in the British overseas territory of Cayman Islands. The demonstration trial with mosquito control and research unit at Chennai would probably be the first open field trial of any transgenic mosquito strain in the world.

Early results are encouraging and if future open field trials are able to replicate this level of success, then we may well have a potentially major breakthrough in the fight against dengue and chikungunya, said Oxitecs public health department head Seshadri Vasan. Female mosquitoes belonging to Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus species are responsible for dengue and chikungunya, which have afflicted over two million Indians the highest in the world in last six years. There is no specific treatment for either disease and experts say it may take another 10 years before an effective vaccine is available.

A multi-country study, led by IIM-A's Centre for Management of Health Services, has estimated the immediate cost of chikungunya and dengue to India at over US$ 1 billion annually. Oxford's GM strain of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (OX513A) are sterile as they carry two copies of a genetic element that can be switched off by providing tetracycline in the larval diet. When these sterile males mate with wild female mosquitoes, the offspring will inherit one copy of the genetic element.

Source: The Times of India, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Higher ed spending to rise 13% yearly over next decade

India's expenditure on higher education will grow nearly 13% annually in the next 10 years driven by the private sector, said a report released by human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday, November 11. "Higher education spends in India are currently estimated at Rs. 46,200 crore (Rs. 462 billion) and are projected to grow over Rs. 150,000 crore (Rs. 1500 billion) in the next 10 years, reflecting an average growth rate of 12.8%," said the joint report by audit and consulting firm Ernst and Young (E&Y) and industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

The report says a typical Indian household spends the most on education today after food and transport. Average household education expenditure in India has risen from 1.46% of annual income in 1981 to 2.55% in 2008 and 7.5% in 2010. "Nearly 55% of Indian middle-class households have started saving for higher education of their children," the report said.

Changing macroeconomic trends are creating new categories of students. They are also increasing the willingness to pay for academic quality, employability-linked education as well as foreign education. "The shift towards a services economy is creating a large demand for skilled workforce, which in turn will drive enrolment in higher education," the report said.

The private sector contributes 92% of the education spending, and within this space, professional courses account for 62%. Since government-run institutions are not geared towards professional courses, 62% of spending in this segment is on general courses. Increased spending over the next decade will boost enrolment, private participation, and better curriculum in higher education sector.

Amitabh Jhingan, partner and education sector leader at Ernst and Young, said the projected higher education expenditure signalled robust growth. Rajan Bharti Mittal, President of FICCI, said education is the "biggest game changer" for India and critical for sustained economic growth.

The report says India's higher education system is already the largest in the world in terms of number of institutes, and the third largest in terms of enrolment. India has 13.6 million students pursuing higher education in 25,951 institutions. The U.S. has 17.76 million students in 6,700 institutions and China has 25.35 million students at 4,000 higher education institutions.


The report highlights a dramatic growth in the number of colleges and universities in India over the past decade. "The number of universities and colleges has almost doubled, led by massive participation by the private sector. Since 1950-51, the number of universities has increased from 28 to 504," it said.

Sibal said India needs another 800 universities to cater to growing demand. "India has to create a critical mass of educated people for its own economy," the minister said. "While over 220 million students are in schools, just 14 million are in higher education. Here we have to expand without compromising quality. It's a daunting task and partnership of public and private sector is a necessity." Mittal of FICCI called for tax breaks and incentives to encourage the private sector to invest in vocational education, e-education, training and skill development.

Source: Mint, November 12, 2010

Sibal vows synergy between HRD and science ministries

On his first day of assuming temporary charge as the science and technology minister, Union human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal infused activity in the otherwise lacklustre ministry. He promised to bring synergy between his two ministries. An alliance between them will be established in a month.

"I think human resource development and science and technology are linked to an extent. Education is the foundation and it is of various kinds," Sibal said. The minister said currently funding for science education came from various sources like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and scientific departments.

Thus, sometimes different projects with similar aims are funded by various departments. It is better to have a common funding mechanism. "In the HRD ministry, I had interactions with all the science and technology secretaries," he said, indicating the issue had been in his mind. "In fact, science and technology should be embedded in all ministries," he added.

Sibal takes charge of the ministry after about a year and half. In his previous stint in the ministry, he had energized the ministry by announcing several initiatives and regular interaction with the media. On a lighter vein, Sibal said: "This is a temporary assignment. But I do temporary jobs in a permanent manner." Sibal also met U.K. science minister David Willetts and discussed cooperation between the two countries and an initiative on food security and sustainable crop production research for international development.


Source: Mail Today, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

U.K. minister for universities and science visits India

U.K. Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts has arrived in Delhi today for a week long visit to the capital, to Bangalore and to Pune. The Minister returns to India soon after his visit in July 2010 when he played a central role in helping to forge the new U.K.-India enhanced partnership under the joint leadership of Prime Ministers Singh and Cameron.

Minister Willetts’ early return is an opportunity to renew contact with Indian counterparts in order to maintain the momentum of the July visit. It underlines the U.K.’s strong commitment to deepen its partnership with India in the essential areas of education, science and research.

While in Delhi, the Minister will meet the Union Ministers and key officials at the Ministries of Human Resource and Development, Agriculture and Science and Technology. He will deliver a key-note speech during the inaugural session at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Higher Education Summit. Mr. Willetts has been invited to be the joint guest of honour to launch National Education Day and will co-chair the U.K.-India Education Forum. He will also meet members of the Planning Commission and visit the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Gurgaon. In Bangalore, among other activities, Mr. Willetts will visit the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In Pune, Mr. Willetts will meet leading industrialists and visit the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) and the Venture Centre.

Commenting on this important visit, Mr Willetts said: "Our Prime Ministers have put education at the top of our shared agenda. Collaboration in education between the U.K. and India goes back over many years, but is also constantly changing and innovating. India and the U.K. have a strong track record of collaborating in science and research. In the last year U.K. bodies have committed over £30 million (Rs. 2 billion) to jointly-funded research programmes. The challenges that our two societies face are increasingly global in nature and solutions will increasingly be found by working together."

Source: British High Commission, New Delhi, November 11, 2010

Australia revamps skilled migration test: Impact on overseas students

Australia has drastically changed its skilled migration test to favour potential migrants with higher skills, experience and better command over the English language, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said today. "These changes to the points test are an important next step in the series of reforms to the skilled migration programme announced by the government in February this year," Chris Bowen said in a media release.

"The reforms set the foundations for a skilled migration programme that will be responsive to our economic needs and continue to serve Australia's interests in the medium to long term," he added.

The changes announced would affect overseas students in Australia with lower level of English, low-quality qualifications and lack of substantial Australian work experience. While there has been a significant drop in Indian students going to Australia for studies in the recent past, the Thursday changes could jeopardise permanent residence (PR) plans of hundreds of thousands of overseas students already studying in Australia. Immigration advice professionals are likely to welcome the changes as the revamped system would encourage highly qualified and experienced professionals to apply for the Australian migration.

Bowen said: "For too long we've had a situation that Harvard graduates, in say environmental science with extensive work experience, would not qualify for skilled migration to Australia whereas someone with a 60-point occupation with a small amount of work experience would."

The new general Skills Migration Point Test, which would come into effect from July 1 next year, would also favour professionals aged between 25 and 32. The skilled migration test would work alongside the new Skilled Occupations List (SOL) which was announced earlier this year.

The necessity to change the ‘inadequate' points test was under consideration for long as it was perceived as dominated by a small number of occupations like hairdressing and cookery.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

IGNOU launches diabetes training programme

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has launched a programme to train medical graduates in treating diabetes, it was announced today. The programme will be open to medical graduates looking to enhance their knowledge and skills in the area of medical diabetology.

IGNOU's School of Health Sciences (SOHS) signed a memorandum of understanding with Hansa Med Cell, a company working in providing medical education, to launch a PG diploma programme for medical graduates in diabetes mellitus.

"Flexibility and outreach are the two important strengths of the university. We hope to use these strengths for improving health care, especially to the poorest sections of society," said P.R. Ramanujam, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university.

Srinivasan K. Swamy, group chairman of Hansa Vision, said, "Diabetes has become pandemic today. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that the number of diabetes cases in India has doubled from 19 million in 1995 to 40.9 million in 2007. It is estimated that by 2030, every fifth person with diabetes will be an Indian. Hence we have taken up the Herculean task of improving healthcare for diabetics in collaboration with IGNOU," he added.

The course will be launched January 2011 and will be offered through IGNOU study centers as well as the centers of Hansa Vision.

New Aus point system to weed out low quality overseas students

Australia is all set to announce its amended point system that would swap cookery and hair-dressing students with scientists, encouraging high skill professionals to settle down in the country. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is scheduled to announce in Sydney tomorrow (November 11) the new points system that is aimed at toughening the rules of gaining permanent residency for overseas students with low quality qualifications, The Australian reported.

The new rules will encourage high skill workers and swap hair-dressing students with scientists. In China, Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans rejected any suggestion the Commonwealth should compensate education providers for lost income. "It's not about us making up the shortfall. I mean, universities are a business," he was quoted as saying. Some universities have gone into the international student market in a larger way than others.

"Amending its old system that allowed easy access to PR through enrolling into courses like hairdressing and hospitality, now graduates will have to fit within July's new skilled occupation list, which gives prominence to high-skill jobs in health and engineering, and pass a strict new points test.

"The current weighting of points test factors leads to perverse outcomes such as the situation where a Harvard qualified environmental scientist with three years' relevant work experience would fail the points test, while an overseas student who completes a 92-week course in a 60-point occupation (such as cookery or hairdressing) would, with one year's experience, pass," a discussion paper issued by Department of Immigration and Citizenship said. The test gave an advantage to low-skill occupations on the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which was axed in February by Senator Evans when he was immigration minister.

Monash University researcher Bob Birrell said a reformed points test would allow the government "to apply a more discriminating filter to select the best applicants". This was possible because earlier decisions had slashed the number of points-tested places available while the number of former students seeking those places had risen sharply. The discussion paper said in these circumstances, "Australia can, and should, select the best and brightest migrants for independent migration".

Senator Evans said universities understood the danger of becoming too reliant on one market. "I think most of them have managed that risk quite sensibly over the years," he said adding "They know they're vulnerable to such movements, as other industries are, and they'll just have to manage that as they work through the issues."

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

U.S. varsities looking for India tie-ups

Partnerships between Indian colleges and American universities are likely to grow as 10 U.S. institutes are travelling across India to expand academic partnerships. The delegation, which was in Mumbai on Tuesday (November 9), visited three universities --- Narsee Monjee (a deemed university), Tata Institute of Social Sciences and ICFAI University.

The delegation's visit, funded by the U.S. Department for Education, seeks to support institutes wanting to enter into partnerships, forge academic collaboration, expand curricular offerings, advance joint research, and prepare students with the international experiences and cross-cultural tools needed in their careers. "However, many institutions face significant challenges in navigating education systems in other countries, identifying appropriate partners and developing effective institutional partnership strategies,'' stated a press note from the International Institute of Education (IIE).

"The delegation's aim is to visit higher education institutions and international organizations in select cities to observe higher education in India and learn about international partnership priorities from the Indian perspective,'' the press note stated.

Rajan Saxena, Vice-Chancellor of N.M. University, who interacted with the delegation, said that his institute would be keen on joining hands with American universities interested in partnering in programmes in emerging disciplines. "There were a range of universities that visited us - from public institutions to research universities to community colleges to institutes that promote continuing education,'' Saxena said. N.M. University, which already has a tie-up with Harvard University for faculty development, is interested in attracting international students and 'bringing an international experience to its classrooms right here,' he said.

American universities have seen a serious beating in their endowments during the financial crisis. Also, American institutes have taking serious cognizance of the fact that America slipped to the second place when fresh enrollment numbers were compiled last year. This trip could probably broaden ties with universities of a country that is projected to have the largest young population for at least another decade.

Source: The Times of India, November 9, 2010

Canadian universities announce India-specific initiatives

Canadian universities announced today funding for a series of India-specific initiatives valued at over C$ 4 million. These investments include the new Globalink Canada-India Graduate Fellowship. Eight Canadian universities have come together to provide graduate fellowships for top Indian students who wish to pursue a Masters or Ph.D. in Canada.

The Globalink Canada-India Graduate Fellowship Program will provide up to 51 scholarships valued at more than C$ 3.5 million for Indian students who have participated in the MITACS Globalink program in 2010. This was announced by Mr. Stephen J. Toope, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, in the presence of the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr. Gary Goodyear, Canada’s Minister of State (Science and Technology).

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Sibal underlined the importance of technology solutions which are affordable for the common man. He expressed the hope that the collaboration between the Canadian and Indian Universities will help in this goal. Mr. Sibal stated that while research will need to be engaged in breaking the frontiers of science in areas such as nano technology, science and research will also have to orient research towards finding solutions to problems like grappling with poverty, water crisis, global warming, and energy problems.

Four MoUs were also signed today. One was between the University of British Columbia to renew a long-standing student mobility agreement with IIT-Delhi, which involves undergraduate engineering students spending time at each others’ institutions. Another MoU was between the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Amar Jyothi College of Engineering to jointly offer a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nuclear Power degree. The Royal Roads University and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) signed an agreement to establish an education partnership that will explore joint delivery of programs through blended and distance education programs. The Royal Roads University and the ACN School of Business also signed an agreement to establish a partnership on academic cooperation.

Source: Press Information Bureau, Government of India

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

Private investment must in higher education: Plan Panel Deputy Chairman

The Planning Commission on Monday advocated a larger role for private sector in education, particularly higher education, as public resources are not enough to meet the requirement.

"With this kind of economic growth, the public resources would not be enough to meet the expanding demand for higher education in the country and private investment is needed," Plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said at a CII summit.

He said the country should focus on expanding the existing educational infrastructure to better serve the needs of the country. The government is in the process of setting up 14 innovation universities, he said adding that the charter will be rewritten for these universities giving them the desired flexibility and resources to impart knowledge at international standards.

There is also the need to provide the existing universities with greater flexibility, he said, adding that a sustained policy was needed for the sector.

Source: The Economic Times, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

Obama effect: Big-ticket education deals this week

U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India is set to start to an unprecedented wave of back-to-back, big-ticket international education deals over the coming week aimed at making India a global education destination.

India will sign key education pacts with Canada on Tuesday and the U.K. on Thursday after finalizing projects with Obama's delegation on Monday, top government sources confirmed.

"Don't forget that the U.S., U.K. and Canada are countries that Indians have traditionally thronged for education. It is indicative of India's role in the global education scenario today that they are coming to India virtually in back-to-back trips we have never witnessed before," a senior government official said. "These countries need us as much as we need them."

Named after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the U.S. President, the Singh-Obama 21st Century Knowledge Initiative will be the cornerstone of the discussions between officials of the two nations on education this Monday. The U.S. also wants to declare an education summit with top Indian officials.

On Thursday, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal will ink a pact for a second phase of the U.K.-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) with British minister of state for education and skill David Willetts. Under the UKIERI-2 pact, the U.K. will declare officially a plan to make India a major destination for its students -for education and work experience. "
Destination India" is aimed at increasing the number of British students in India ---currently only about 1000, in sharp contrast to the 50,000 Indian students in the U.K.

Pacts will be signed with private Indian firms under UKIERI-2 to hire British students as interns. "India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. We want British youth to be better aware of India and its evolving realities because India will be a major global player," said a British official involved in the deal.

On Tuesday --- just the day after Obama departs --- Sibal is scheduled to hold talks with Canadian officials for an Indo-Canada partnership in education which Canadian PM Stephen Harper is very keen on, sources said. UNESCO officials are also visiting New Delhi on Thursday for talks with Sibal.

Source: Hindustan Times, November 8, 2010

Canadian universities coming to woo Indian students

Presidents of 15 Canadian universities embark on a seven-day mission to India on Monday to woo students from the second fastest growing nation in the world. It is the biggest mission to India by Canadian educational institutions after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on higher education during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Canada in June.

Though more than 150,000 Indian students go abroad for higher education each year, Canada gets only about 3,000 annually. Thus, Indian students account for a fraction of more than 90,000 foreign students who enrolled in Canadian universities last year. With foreign students paying more than $15,000 in fees each and collectively pumping more than $6.5 billion into the economy, Canada is looking to a big jump in enrollment from India.

Organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Canadian education mission will travel to Pune and Delhi for meetings with educational institutions, the private sector and administrators to usher in new era in ties in this sector between the two nations. Its major engagements in India include a roundtable with Indian university presidents, which will also be attended by Indian human resource minister Kapil Sibal and his Canadian counterpart Gary Goodyear. The mission will also participate in the higher education summit being organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

"This mission is a way for us to get to know India and its needs more deeply - and to make sure that when Indians think of research and higher education, they think of us,'' said AUCC President Paul Davidson before the mission's departure for India. "Educators and business people in India need to know that Canadian universities are open to building successful partnerships that will enrich experiences for students, strengthen links between our countries and advance international research collaboration,'' he said.

Source: The Economic Times (Online edition), November 8, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Obama leads U.S. universities to India

Yale University and Duke University are among dozens of U.S. colleges that India is recruiting to help educate its population with more than 550 million people under age 25. Duke, Brown University and the University of Chicago are planning offices, research centers and campuses in India. The presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and Cornell University have traveled to India to raise money and establish collaborations. Yale President Richard Levin visited India last week to set up a joint program that will educate Indian college leaders.

President Barack Obama will make a three-day state visit to India, starting tomorrow (November 6), accompanied by U.S. university officials eager to strengthen their ties to the country. Institutions want to "get in on the ground floor" as India’s economy and education system mature and the nation becomes a global power, said Dipesh Chakrabarty, a University of Chicago history professor who is leading the university’s efforts to plan a research center in New Delhi, India’s capital.

"We see India as a tremendous opportunity for higher education," said Robert Brown, President of Boston University and a member of the delegation traveling to India, where he aims to open a campus, in a telephone interview. "There’s tremendous demand, a growing population in the middle class, an English-speaking, well-organized educational system --- all the things that you need to interface with a private American university."

Read the full report on Bloomberg site - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-05/universities-tag-along-with-obama-to-india-to-set-up-ties-like-yale-duke.html

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/

India will do well to learn the U.S. vocational education model

"India is a developing country with a developed talent" --- that's what Jack Welch, then chief executive of General Electric Co. (GE), said a decade ago. That sentiment is behind education emerging as one of the key areas of collaboration between the U.S. and India.

Sample this: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has travelled to the U.S. twice in the last six months along with top bureaucrats and academics. Several U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale, have reiterated the need for better educational tie-ups. In October alone, three top universities --- those of Yale, Illinois and Cincinnati --- have toured India to further academic collaboration.

Yale, a favourite among Indian institutes, signed an agreement on October 28, 2010 with the Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode (IIM-K), and the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K), for an academic leadership programme under the "Obama- Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative."

Richard Levin, President of the three-century-old university, also met Indian CEOs in Mumbai to boost Yale's India-centric academic programmes back home. Illinois interim Chancellor Robert A. Easter met Sibal and has shown interest in partnering with an innovation university on bio-science and biotechnology and agriculture. India proposes to open 14 innovation universities, which are research-oriented campuses that will enjoy a high degree of autonomy.

These developments strengthen the idea that Indian higher education is getting globalized. According to Sam Pitroda, Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on innovation and infrastructure, Indian education is passing through a phase similar to that of the Indian economy in 1990s: It's time to "deregulate education" and push ahead with the reform agenda, he says.

The Indian economy, expanding at around 8% a year, needs a large, trained workforce to sustain the growth momentum. It will need to step up research and development (R&D) and innovation, which generally emerge from educational institutions, an area where India needs to catch up with the rest of the world. According to official statistics, India has 157 researchers per million people compared with 633 in China and 4,526 in the U.S.

Collaboration with the U.S. should bring about a research orientation in Indian universities and other top institutions. "Asia is rising in the 21st century both as an economic power-house and an intellectual hub. Higher education in India is on a reform path and it's essential for India to maintain its economic growth," Yale President Levin said, adding that his university wants strong ties with the country. "The top Indian institutes have to become research-oriented while keeping their teaching excellence intact."

Debashis Chatterjee, Director of IIM-Kozhikode, said that education follows disparate themes in India and the U.S. --- value for many and value for money, respectively. "These two models have existed for long separately," he said. "But what we require is co-existence. While India has talent, the U.S. has money to invest on them for a greater good." He says the U.S. can get more bang for its buck in terms of investment in research and innovation. "The Indo-U.S. relation is a win-win proposition in higher education," he says.

The U.S. has a good record on vocational education, which is something India can benefit from as the country faces a major dearth of skilled manpower. According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and human resources firm Ma Foi Randstad, less than 20% of the workforce that enters the labour market every year in India is skilled.


India's target of training 500 million people by 2022 can get a boost if institutes in the country collaborate with those in the U.S. Vocational education should be integrated with higher education to do away with the mindset that skill training is all about making your hands dirty. For starters, Virginia Tech had announced on September 20, 2010 it will open three centres of excellence in Tamil Nadu, which are likely to be operational in two years.

"India has a huge young population and the economy is growing fast. This (India) is the right place to invest in now," said Narayanan Ramaswamy, Executive Director (Education) at consulting firm KPMG. "They want (to be in) India as the country will be the hub of human capital for the world. You will see more partnerships."

Last month, Cincinnati announced US$ 1 million toward scholarships for Indian students gaining admission in the September 2011 session. Further, Ratan Tata and Anand Mahindra have donated a total US$ 60 million ($ 50 million and $ 10 million, respectively) to Harvard University. The move came after their companies have taken significant steps in expanding their global footprint. "Reliance, Tata and Infosys are global brands now. You cannot ignore them," Levin said.

This also comes at a time when India has moved draft legislation in Parliament to allow foreign institutions to set up campuses in the country and provide independent degrees. Sibal, who has initiated a number of education reforms in the last 16 months, sees this benefiting Indian students.

Apart from students getting a quality education, the Bill will create a sense of competition among foreign and Indian institutions on quality, research and student satisfaction. At any given point of time, over 100,000 Indians are studying in the U.S. Last year, a little over 32,000 Indians got student visas to the U.S., and it is expected that the government will discussing raising this number during Obama's visit.

Source: Mint, November 5, 2010

Sibal unveils minority education strategy

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has asked his ministry to formulate a minority education strategy focusing on reviving dying crafts practiced by Muslim artisans, many of whom now live virtually in penury. The strategy will focus on hamlets of traditional artisans and craftsmen. It will include training them in modern skills needed to keep their craft alive, and on taking these crafts to modern educational institutions, government sources have said.

"We want to make these traditional arts and crafts a part of mainstream education so that today's students learn about them study them, and take these crafts forward," an official said. Knowledge is passed on from generation to generation in the families of these artisans, but is not expanding beyond these select families. The new strategy is based on concerns that the knowledge held by them may soon expire unless taught to a broader segment of students.

Sources cited the example of Islamic architecture, which is understood and practiced only by families involved in building and maintaining structures like mosques. "There is a need to include this knowledge as a part of mainstream education in architecture schools," a source said.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is keen to involve leading Muslim educationists and philanthropists in this project. "We will soon call a meeting with select Muslim educationists and philanthropists," a source said.

Source: Hindustan Times, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Government enterprises urged to share 2% of profit to boost education

The government wants large public sector companies to share the burden of boosting expenditure on education. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has written to India's largest public sector units (PSUs), proposing that they part with a portion of their annual profit to raise the standard of school education, particularly in rural areas and urban slums.

"Initially, we have written to top 100 PSUs, including leading government banks, for giving nearly 2% of their profit for improving school education as part of their social responsibility," a ministry official said. "We are in consultation with private industry lobbies and will soon write to private companies on this."

Another MHRD official said the ministry was hopeful the companies would cooperate. "Diverting a small portion of the substantial profit towards school education would help in achieving the objective of providing affordable yet quality schooling to children of rural areas and urban slums..." Both officials asked not to be named.

Total net profit of all PSUs in 2007-08 was Rs. 90,000 crore (Rs. 900 billion), according to the MHRD. India's top 500 companies earned a net profit of Rs. 250,000 (Rs. 2500 billion) in the same year.

The Congress-led Union government plans to boost public expenditure on education from around 4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) today to 6% in the next few years, according to the MHRD. Around 237 million students are currently pursuing school education in India. But quality of schooling and high drop-out rates are major worries. Of every 100 students that enter class I, more han 55 drop out by the time they reach class X.

Currently, the cost of setting up a quality school is Rs. 3 crore (Rs. 30 million, but this may increase to Rs. 5 crore (Rs. 50 million) if better facilities are provided, according to MHRD estimates. Companies that accept the government's proposal will be asked to fund the setting up of a school as well as its recurring cost for a decade, or a total of Rs. 15 crore (Rs. 150 million). In return, the school may be named after the company and around 10% of its seats may be reserved for children of he company's employees.

"While up to 10% can go as discretionary quota, the remaining seats will be filled by the government," said the second official cited above. Having schools named after them will serve as publicity for the companies. The companies can also play an active role in the management and evaluation of the schools they finance. If they don't want to, the government will hand over the task to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, which runs Central Schools, and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, another MHRD-run schooling body. After 10 years, the company can either continue running the school or hand it over to the government.

U.D. Choubey, Director General of Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE), an umbrella body of PSUs, said PSUs should contribute to school education as a social responsibility. "They are (already) doing various activities, including those in he education sector," he said. "MHRD should enter into specific agreements with individual PSUs for this."

Source: Mint, November 4, 2010

Manipal eyes corporate education market

Manipal Education has created a new business unit to capture a slice of the booming market in corporate education. Termed the Corporate Solutions Group, it will provide degree level courses in banking, science, capital markets and executive courses for working professionals.

"There has been lot of focus on K-12 and higher education, but there isn't enough focus on corporate education," said Anand Sudarshan, MD & CEO, Manipal Education, who expects the new unit to contribute a third of revenues for the Rs. 1000 crore (Rs. 10 billion) education services group in the next five years.

According to a report by IDFCSSKI, corporate training in India is estimated to be a US$ 50-million market that will expand by 25% in the coming years. As more companies prefer to outsource employee training to specialists in a bid to ensure quality and reduce costs.

"If you keep training in-house, it becomes a costly proposition and you wont have enough faculty," said Manish Kumar, President and head of HR & CSR, Dhanalakshmi Bank. The bank trains its employees through a tie-up with corporate training outfit, Institute of Finance, Banking and Insurance (IFBI) set up by education provider NIIT in collaboration with ICICI Bank and various other corporations.

The business unit of Manipal has also set up ICICI Manipal Academy (IMA), to train probationary officers joining the bank. The residential course spread over nine months of campus training and three months of internship will provide a specialised diploma in insurance, banking, technology and soft skills.

Source: The Economic Times, November 4, 2010

Summer offers jump 75% at IIM Lucknow

Summer placements at IIM-Lucknow (IIM-L) hit a high note with 417 offers in just six days, a 75% increase in offers over the previous year. A total of 151 firms visited the campus, with 123 offers made in Slot Zero alone. Several prestigious firms made offers exclusively at IIM-L, including Wolff Olins Dubai (brand strategy), Samara Capital, Multiples Alternate Asset Management, Milestone Capital and Walden International.

Key recruiters on campus included McKinsey & Co., the Boston Consulting Group, Tata Administrative Services, Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Aditya Birla Group, Cadbury-Kraft, Diageo, Avendus Capital and BNP Paribas.

Firms from the financial sectors included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, American Express, Deutsche Bank, Development Bank of Singapore, Edelweiss Capital, Axis Bank, Elara Capital, Atherstone Capital, SBI Capital, KC Securities, and BMR Advisors while FMCG firms also made their presence felt included P&G, HUL, Reckitt Benckiser, Glaxo-Smithkline, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, J&J Consumer, J&J Medical, J&J Pharma, Colgate Palmolive, Nestle, Heinz, Britannia, Asian Paints, Agrotech, Dabur, Marico, Kellog, L'Oreal, Perfetti Van Melle, ITC, Kraft-Cadbury and Diageo.

Source: The Economic Times, November 4, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

World's first integrated aviation university in Bangalore

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) and the Bangalore-based Subramanya Construction and Development Company (SCDC) signed a joint venture agreement to set up the world's first integrated aviation university and training campus in the Karnataka capital. The Sydney-based CAPA, a globally recognized provider of industry research and analysis, and SCDC will invest $ 125 million to develop CAPA AeroPark on a 50-acre site in Bangalore by 2012.

The fully developed campus will have state-of-the-art academic facilities together with full flight simulators, a flying school, engineering workshops and laboratories, research centres, accommodation for students and faculty, recreational facilities, a hotel and convention centre. The university would have satellite academies in Delhi and Mumbai for airline and airport management, pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers, cabin crew and regulators.

"This facility is in response to a felt need for trained aviation personnel in India given the rapid growth that is envisaged in India's aviation industry over the next few years. It further enhances the growing Australia-India trade and investment relations," Consul General of India in Sydney Amit Dasgupta told IANS.

India has been one of the fastest growing aviation markets with demand for skilled personnel expected to triple over the next decade. Even conservative projections estimate India will emerge as the third largest aviation market in the world in the next 12-15 years.

"There is an emerging global shortage of skilled human resources in the industry, which is particularly acute in rapidly emerging markets such as India and neighbouring regions. The aviation industries in India and the Gulf alone are expected to see investment in excess of $200 billion over the next decade and availability of skills is critical to support this," said CAPA Group Executive Chairman Peter Harbison. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Asia Pacific region now has training capacity to meet only 35 per cent of its annual requirement of almost 14,000 pilots- an annual shortfall of 9,000.

The CAPA AeroPark Masterplan has been developed after consultations with airlines, airports, governments, universities and aviation training providers from around the world, and on-the-ground study of currently available training infrastructure in India.

SCDC Group Chairman K.N.Balasubramanyam said: "This facility will be vital for developing a professional, sustainable and safe aviation industry and will help position India as a globally competitive aviation and aerospace hub." This is SCDC's first foray into the education sector.

Bangalore has been chosen as the location for the campus because it is the country's aerospace hub, home to Hindustan Aeronautics, the nation's leading aerospace company, and the Airbus Engineering and Design Centre, Boeing's Research and Technology Centre, besides several national research institutes and companies involved in aviation technology, design, maintenance and manufacturing.

Source: Hindustan Times, November 1, 2010

IIMs, IITs asked to encourage students to opt for rural sector

In an effort to bring in professional hands in rural development sector, the government has suggested IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management), IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and other select institutes to design a matching curriculum in their courses to encourage young talents towards the emerging opportunities in the field.

The suggestion was made to the select professional institutions by the Ministry for Rural Development at a workshop organized by it in Rajasthan on October 20. Union minister for rural development C.P. Joshi suggested the professional institutes that the students can undertake internship to associate themselves with the process, said a ministry official. This will be mutually beneficial as the youth of the country will get exposure to issues related to rural development and grassroot development process will be strengthened through professional support, the official said.

A month ago, the ministry suggested to the states to create a "panchayat" (village council) service cadre and appoint at least four persons one with a degree in MBA and another in engineering in each panchayat for the implementation of various rural development schemes, promising that it will provide them funds to meet initial expenditure on salaries for eight years.

The ministry proposed that 80% of the salaries of these staff will be given by the Centre in first year and it will gradually be reduced and finally the responsibility for payment will totally be left on the states after eight years. The proposed scheme, in its first phase of implementation, will be applicable to the districts where over Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) funds of NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) is being spent or to the "panchayats" where population is between 4,000 to 5,000.

We need dedicated and professional hands in rural areas for better implementation of government schemes. There is huge shortage of dedicated staff in "panchayts". The proposal made to states with respect to creation of "panchayat" service cadre is worked out to give it a final shape after we received views and inputs from the states, the official said.
The ministry has also asked the states to appoint dedicated staff in each "panchayat" for effective implementation of rural development schemes.
For this too, the ministry wants that candidates to be appointed should have a degree in MBA or engineering, the official said.

Source: The Economic Times, November 1, 2010

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