Tuesday, December 09, 2014

IITs and IIMs to offer online courses

Premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are planning to go the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) way, in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi planning an ambitious launch of the Swayam Bharat programme.

While IIT-Bombay and IIM-Bangalore have already announced the launch of MOOCs with overseas partners, IIM-Calcutta could be next in line, with the institute submitting a proposal to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). IIT-Kanpur is developing its own platform for MOOCs called MOOKIT, which might soon start competing with popular international MOOC platforms like edX and Coursera.

"MOOCs and  online delivery is clearly the future," says IIM-C Director Saibal Chattopadhyay. IIT-B is currently trying out two courses, the basic computer programming course for undergraduates and a thermodynamics course, in the MOOCs mode. "More are planned. There have been multiple meetings with MHRD and IIT Bombay expects to be a very active partner in the government's initiative," says Narayan Rangaraj, Dean — Academic Programmes.

Apart from working on MOOKIT that will help delivering the MOOCs, IIT-Kanpur is also engaged in developing MOOCs around verticals like agriculture and computer science, says TV Prabhakar, professor at the institute. IIT-Kanpur has just wrapped up its MOOC on MOOCs programme where over 2,300 students participated and is currently offering two more MOOC programmes. It is also running a 'MOOC on Mobiles'. The interest in MOOCs among premier institutions is being attributed to a heightened interest in online education by the new government.

"It is a clear mandate from the government as in the last Budget, Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) was allocated to online education for MOOCs and virtual classrooms," says Rohin Kapoor, Senior Manager (Education Practice) at Deloitte. MOOCs might also help achieve the target of training 500 million people by 2022, he adds.

IIM-Bangalore is planning to launch courses on the edX platform in 2015. The institute is also planning to engage around 15 per cent of its faculty to deliver MOOCs over the next two years, according to its director, Sushil Vachani. IIM-Indore and IIT-Gandhinagar have been running broadband distance learning programmes and are now keen on running some courses on the MOOC platform. "We are looking forward to the creation of a MOOCs platform by MHRD, and plan to use it," says IIM-Indore's Director Rishikesha Krishnan. IIT-Patna is planning to start flipped classrooms wherein a student can study material on MOOCs and then attend a live class anywhere in the country.

"Only to some extent do MOOCs bridge the skills gap, since it's a one-way communication. However, it can be successful in a flipped model as it will enhance learning and build a platform for collaborative discussions," says Ajai Chowdhry, founder of HCL, who also teaches at IIT-Patna. Like IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Kharagpur too is working on solutions around MOOCs. It is developing automatic programmes to grade assignments in MOOC programmes. "We are also working on 'learning analytics', which will help us track the students' pattern of learning. Both these programmes should make MOOCs more interactive," says Plaban Kumar Bhowmick, assistant professor at IIT-Kharagpur's Centre for Educational Technology.

Working on MOOCs, NPTEL, which is closely working with IIT-Madras, launched its first course on programming algorithms and data structures this year and will be launching eight new courses in January including humanities. "We've also introduced the element of proctored examinations wherein students who get 50 per cent in their online examinations are eligible to sit for an exam at our centres all over the country," says Prathap Haridoss, NPTEL coordinator and professor at IIT-Madras. NPTEL provides an online certification at the end of the exam, where IIT representatives act as invigilators.

IIT-Guwahati (IIT-G) has proposed two courses for the Swayam Bharat Platform (managed by IIT-B). IIT-G is also partnering with IIT-M for NPTEL MOOCs. It has participated in the two courses already conducted by IIT-M under NPTEL.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), December 9, 2014

Saturday, December 06, 2014

IITs face 37% faculty shortage: Study

Here's some unpalatable truth for a nation dreaming to set up a string of new-age technology institutes: over 37% of the faculty posts in the existing 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are vacant. 

According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) in September 2014, only IIT-Gandhinagar has 99% of the sanctioned faculty members working. TOI accessed the data about faculty in the country's premier institutes.

The 16 IITs in the country have 4,308 faculty members against the sanctioned strength of 6,944. IIT-Kharagpur, long considered an ace, reports a 46% shortage. The overall student-faculty ratio stands at 16:1. 

As part of its election promise, the BJP had planned to establish IITs, IIITs (Indian Institutes of Information Technology) and NITs (National Institutes of Technology) across the country. In November, the NDA government announced setting up of IITs in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Chhattisgarh and Jammu. Before moving ahead with the plan, the government needs to tackle the faculty shortage immediately.

Going by the faculty matrix in the existing IITs, the Union government will need 100 faculty members per 1,000 students in the new institutes. Assuming each of the five new institutes gets about 200 students, then the government has to hire 100 faculty members.

On November 21, a group of academicians led by Bharat Ratna Prof C N R Rao met at IISc, Bengaluru, to discuss the science education roadmap. At the meeting, many experts pointed out that the inability of premier institutes to attract quality teachers was impeding the efforts to enhance the quality of education. 

Hyderabad University vice-chancellor Prof Ramakrishna Ramaswamy said: "We're failing to replace teachers who are retiring or resigning even in places like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), IITs or some other top institutes." 

Echoing the view, Prof Rao said: "The problem has to be viewed holistically. It needs immediate attention." IIIT-Bangalore Director Prof S Sadagopan said: "Having a good faculty is crucial. Given the opportunities in other sectors and abroad, finding a good faculty is difficult."

The situation in IIITs is equally bad with a student-faculty ratio of 29:1. IIITs in Allahabad, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Kancheepuram have a sanctioned strength of 282, but only 166 faculty members are working — a shortage of nearly 42%. An IIIT is proposed to be set up in Hubballi.

The 30 NITs across the country, too, are facing a shortage of 28%. The sanctioned strength is 6,467, but only 4,667 faculty members are working.

Source: The Times of India, December 6, 2014

Friday, December 05, 2014

India's Labour Ministry plans Vocational University

The Union Ministry of Labour plans to open a first-of-its-kind national vocational university that will subsume all Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), seeking to improve standards and bring uniformity among the schools that supply workers to the manufacturing sector. All 11,500 ITIs and hundreds of similar training schools overseen by the labour ministry will come under the proposed National Workers Vocational University, Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya said after a meeting of the ministry in New Delhi on Thursday. 

“It will be an umbrella body,” said the minister, adding that the renewed thrust on skill education in the country had necessitated the need for such an initiative. The university may come up in the next six months in Telengana, home state of the labour minister. The initiative is a part of the government’s effort to boost manufacturing’s share in the economic output of India, and support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make In India campaign aimed at attracting greater foreign investment flows and creating jobs. Manufacturing’s share of gross domestic product has stagnated at around 15% for many years now.

Officials in the ministry said ITIs and Advanced Training Institutes (ATIs), run by both private and government entities, follow some basic rules set by the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGE&T), but efforts to monitor them and improve quality standards have been lacking. The dwindling standard of ITIs and lack of collaboration between such schools and industry have created the need for an overarching body to oversee them. “Once a university is in place, programme implementation, upgradation and monitoring of such training schools will get streamlined. This university, once in place, can also be a facilitator for providing required apprentices to industries,” a labour ministry official said on condition of anonymity. 

Lack of trained workers is seen as one of the main obstacles in improving the competitive edge of India’s manufacturing sector. “To boost manufacturing and aid PM’s Make In India mission, skill is very important. Less than 8% of our workers are skill-trained, and through new initiatives we are trying to improve this. Eventually, it will lead to better employment generation,” Dattatreya said. The initiative also means the labour ministry will continue to manage the ITIs, which had been facing the prospect of being taken over by the new skill and entrepreneurship ministry. 

“Skill is a huge sector and we don’t have any issue with the skill ministry. But we believe that ITIs should stay with labour ministry as is the case for decades,” the labour ministry official said. Opening a vocational university may be a good starting point to reform ITIs, said T. Muralidharan, Executive Chairman of the TMI Group, a human resource and skill-training company. “But supply-side reform is less important than demand-side reform,” he said. “It means authorities have to keep in mind that supply of trained manpower has to be in sync with industry demand, else it will only lead to further unemployment.” In India, the graduate unemployment rate in the 15-29 age group is 33%, according to official data. 

Germany will hand-hold the labour ministry in its effort to open the vocational university, ministry officials said after a meeting with German ambassador Michael Steiner. The labour ministry said in a statement that other than the university, the ambassador and the minister discussed common areas of interest including the need for joint development of the curriculum for honing some core engineering skills and courses for apprentices.

Source: Mint, December 5, 2014

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Times BRICS Rankings: Two Indian universities make it to top 40

There is great news for India's universities. For the first time, two new Indian entrants have jumped straight into the top 40 of second annual Times Higher Education (THE) BRICS and Emerging Economies rankings. Also, 11 other Indian universities have made it to the top 100 rankings. Around 18 countries are featured in 2015 rankings released today.

Around 15 universities - from Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey - have entered the tables for the first time. China has cemented its dominance among the emerging economies, retaining the top two places and increasing its representation among the top-100 institutions to 27, up from 23 last year.

India has increased its representation with 11 of the top-100 places, up from 10 last year and it has a new national leader - Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in 25th place and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) in 37th place.

Phil Baty, Editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings, said "India is starting to show its potential in these rankings, increasing its overall representation in this new top-100 list to 11, from 10 last year. Only China and Taiwan have more top-100 institutions than India, which remains ahead of Russia and Brazil among the giant developing economies. But this improved showing is partly due to the fact that more Indian institutions have recognised the benefits of being part of the rankings process, and more are sharing their data with Times Higher Education".

"Several Indian institutions have actually lost ground compared with last year. So there is clearly no room for any complacency. The good news is that by engaging with the global rankings and sharing performance data to benchmark themselves against the tough global standards set by Times Higher Education, India's leading institutions have shown a hunger for further development and for sharing best practice. If this is backed by a government-led commitment to support India's top universities to compete on the global stage, with sufficient funding and reforms, there would be plenty of room for optimism."

It must be noted here that Panjab University, which topped the India charts last year at No 13 overall, has slipped in the top 100 list to 39th place this year. Most of the other institutes - with the exception of IIT Madras - have also moved down the list as compared to last year.

The Rankings have been given after accessing all aspects of the modern university's core missions (teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook).

China retains the top two positions (Peking University followed by Tsinghua University) in the rankings. Fudan University follows Peking and Tsinghua, taking ninth place, while University of Science and Technology of China loses its top-10 position, moving into joint 11th place.

Russia has seen a dramatic improvement in its standing - increasing its representatives in the top 100 from just two last year to seven this year, and seeing its number one university, Moscow State University, moving from 10th to 5th.

Some 22 countries classified as emerging economies by FTSE have been analysed for ranking purposes. The methodology of the 2015 BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings is slightly different from the methodology used last time to better reflect the characteristics and development needs of a university in the emerging economies. The weightage to "research influence", judged by publication citations, has been reduced from 30% in the world rankings, to 20%. The weightage for "industry income -innovation" has been increased from 2.5% to 10%, while for "international outlook", it has been increased from 7.5% to 10%.

Sources: The Economic Times & The Times of India, December 4, 2014

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Nursing degrees from four Indian bodies valid in Singapore

Singapore has agreed to recognise degrees from four nursing institutions in India, a development that comes after nearly a decade of intense negotiations between the two countries and promises to widen overseas employment opportunities for Indian nurses.

India is close to signing a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) for nurses with Singapore under the comprehensive free trade pact signed in 2005, even as talks continue with other FTA partners such as Japan and Korea, officials said.

Nursing degrees awarded by Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Manipal College of Nursing, Christian Medical College (Vellore) and College of Nursing, Trivandrum will be recognised by the Southeast Asian nation, one of the officials said.

"Singapore has agreed to recognise degrees four of our institutes. Just a few more approvals are required for the MRA to be finally inked. This will open avenues for our nurses to go and practise in Singapore at competitive packages," said the official, requesting anonymity.

The MRA for nursing with Singapore had met a roadblock after the Indian Nursing Council (INC) insisted that every nurse trained at any of the country's recognised institutions should be eligible to practise in Singapore. "The idea is to start with some and then scale them up," said the official.

The MRA is aimed at enabling professionals in India and Singapore to offer services in each other's territory as the pact will give recognition to their degrees in both the countries. It will open up a safer avenue for Indian nurses, who also end up in countries like Iraq facing severe security threats. In July, 46 Indian nurses were rescued by the government.

India and Singapore had signed a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) in 2005, cutting customs duties on goods, but progress is still awaited on movement of professionals. The government is also negotiating MRAs for other professions including chartered accountancy, architecture, medicine and dentistry with Singapore.

India is making efforts to expand the scope of its services exports, beyond information technology. Services sector is a primary driver of the Indian economy, clocking exports of $151 billion in 2013-14 compared to $312 billion worth of merchandise shipments.

Although India has similar comprehensive pacts with Japan and South Korea, there has been no progress on the services front with these countries. "It is a challenge, it require reforms before it can happen. Services trade is a slow process," the official added.

Experts hailed the progress in agreement on nursing. "If the government has reached till here, it is a big positive step in the right direction. Let us be clear that singing an MRA is not easy and requires synergy of standards and matching of qualification, which requires a lot of goodwill," said Arpita Mukherjee, professor, ICRIER. "It will be very good for the nurses and it may also lead to easier access of Indian nurses to other Western nations with which Singapore has an MRA, like the United States," she said.

Source: The Economic Times, December 3, 2014

Monday, December 01, 2014

Indian MOOC for a global platform

US-based educational technology company Coursera, which offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) from various universities, has partnered with an Indian B-school, making it its first partner institution in India and 115th worldwide. 

Under the partnership agreement, Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) is going to offer online content globally on the Coursera platform. The B-school's first course in this initiative is going to be on `A Life of Happiness and ulfilment.' 

"ISB will work in a similar way as other universities," said Richard Levin, CEO, Coursera, during a visit to Delhi. "It gets to choose what content it wishes to put on the platform. Its professors and resources are used to produce the course and we distribute that."

The company boasts of the largest number of users of e-courses in the world, including 800,000 enrolees in India accounting for 8% of its total enrolment.Overall, their favourite courses are in computer science and business. 

Indian learners are young, mostly teenagers and those in their 20s, unlike their international counterparts whose median age is 30+. Most of them look for courses with job-oriented skills.

About 5-6% of Coursera learners eventually complete a course. Of these, 20-30% go on to earn a certification 10 courses are now available on-demand as opposed to those which are offered as per a schedule. Also, four, six or eight courses related to each other on offer.

Source: The Times of India, December 1, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

MIT offered help, not IISc

Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy said it was disappointing that Indian universities do not work with domestic industry the way global ones do.

"Today, the software industry brings $40 billion to the city (Bengaluru) and we have Indian Institute of Science ( IISc) which is hardly about 12 kms away...None of them bothered to come to any of the Indian companies. On the other hand, the president of MIT, Cornell, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, Cambridge...you name it and they all came to us saying what problems of yours can we solve," Murthy said at the Commonwealth Science Conference in Bengaluru on Wednesday. He was responding to a question from a delegate on collaboration with researchers in the area of software development. 

He, however, said that things had improved after IISc's former Director P Balaram accelerated collaborative research efforts between academia and industry. "In fairness, I must say, Balaram was convinced about the need for this. Therefore, we have now created an ecosystem where researchers in our higher education institutions are interested in solving problems of this industry," he said.

Murthy highlighted many of the software industry's contributions to the country. He noted that the industry had replaced the public sector as the largest job creator in the country. The job creation in turn, he said, created a "positive spiral" in the economy. 

"The software industry in India employs about 3.2 million professionals and adds about two hundred thousand jobs every year," he said. Murthy said the top IT companies had created more high disposable income based jobs in India than any other company had done in the last hundred years.

He said it was thanks to the software industry that India had a strong balance of payments position in spite of oil prices rising. "And wherever you go in the developed world there is a new respect for India thanks to the software industry," he said.

Source: The Times of India, November 27, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

British Council India Employability Survey 2014 - Foreign degree holders better skilled for jobs

Functioning in an increasingly globalised environment, many companies feel that foreign degree holders have better technical skills for jobs compared to Indian university graduates, says a latest survey. As per British Council's 'India Employability Survey 2014', as much as 39 per cent of the companies in India said that foreign university graduates are better prepared for the jobs than those from Indian ones.

Further, the survey conducted in 200 Indian and foreign companies in the country found that 41 per cent have hired at least one foreign university graduate in the last two years.

Sector-wise, consumer goods (60 per cent), services (52.2 per cent), infrastructure, telecom and energy (50 per cent) firms are the most likely to have hired at least one candidate with a foreign degree. Industrial (34.5 per cent) and IT (35.7 per cent) firms are the least likely to hire foreign degree graduates, the survey said.

"As organisations strive to compete and drive business growth in an increasingly global marketplace, they place significant importance on international education in talent they recruit," British Council India Director Rob Lynes said. "Hiring foreign university graduates is an integral part of talent plan for a large per centage of firms," Lynes added.

About 41 per cent of companies surveyed prefer to hire graduates from American universities, while 25.8 per cent do so for universities in the United Kingdom.

Subject-knowledge related to the job was ranked the most important skill by the companies. This was followed by communication skills, the ability to apply one's knowledge to solve real-world issues and critical thinking skills. Inter-personal skills, the ability to work with diverse groups of people, leadership experience and the ability or willingness to work hard, were placed lower down the order.

"Foreign-degree holders appear to be more disposed towards having strong 'technical' skills critical thinking, the ability to use knowledge to solve real world problems," Lynes said. On the other hand, Indian university graduates were found to be relatively stronger on the 'soft' skills, such as working with diverse groups of people, and interpersonal skills, he added.

"While the US leads the way on almost every major skill, the UK is a clear second in terms of communication and inter-personal skills and Germany came close to second along with the UK in most other arenas," Lynes noted.

Source: The Times of India, November 24, 2014

Maharashtra home to most accredited colleges, second highest number of certified varsities

Nearly 85% of the 34,852 colleges in the country have not gone through the mandatory assessment process by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), and over one-third of the 642 universities (71%) remain unaccredited.

The lack of quality check in a majority of institutes of higher education has been revealed in the latest Deloitte report on the annual status of higher education in states and union territories. For Maharashtra, however, the situation is much better as it has the highest number of accredited colleges in the country, followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The state also has the distinction of most numbers of accredited universities, second only to Tamil Nadu. Though Tamil Nadu has 27 accredited universities, the highest in numbers, percentage wise, it is next to Maharashtra.

According to the report, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Assam are the top three states in terms of percentage of universities accredited at 52, 46 and 44 respectively. Jharkhand, Haryana and Bihar are at the bottom with 8%, 14% and 15% respectively. Similarly, Assam, Punjab and Haryana are the top three states when it comes to percentage of colleges accredited at 67, 61 and 57 respectively, while Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar are the bottom three.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has made it mandatory for all colleges and varsities to go in for accreditation for grants. Rohin Kapoor, Senior Manager of Deloitte India, said the sheer number of institutes in the country makes it difficult for the agency to carry out assessment. "There are close to 35,000 institutes and 650 universities in the country. The numbers go up every year," said Kapoor. "Since it is mandatory now, many colleges have been submitting their assessment reports. It will take time for the agency to process all. The government should allow private agencies to assist NAAC. The policies should encourage a public-private partnership model for evaluating institutes in the country," he said.

Kapoor added that the data used from the website NAAC (2011-12) was the latest from the government available for the study. Many colleges have gone for accreditation post 2011-12, but the number of new institutes has also jumped in the last three years. Around 570 colleges went in for accreditation in 2012, 687 in 2013 and 517 in 2014 till date.

H. Devaraj, Vice-Chairman of UGC, said, "The UGC has sanctioned 25 new posts at NAAC, which is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Once that is done, the staff strength will go up to 50. The NAAC is also planning to set up six to seven regional centres that will be equipped to grant accreditation to colleges/universities. The increase in the number of staff will help clearing backlog and expedite the process." He predicted the number will improve in the next two years.

"Most of the unaided colleges affiliated to the Mumbai University are the usual defaulters as they do not have approved staff and their infrastructure is not in place," said M A Khan, Registrar, Mumbai University. The most important parameter for accreditation is to have approved faculty on board, which institutes lack, he added. The MU has recently attached all the benefits granted to colleges to their accredited status. "We allow colleges to increase divisions, seats, or to set up a new course if they are accredited or have applied for re-accreditation," said Khan.

Source: The Times of India, November 24, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

US-bound tech pupils: 4 Indian cities in top 10

There is a popular wisecrack among engineers in India --- one leg in India, another in Air India. Most of them graduate and fly off to pursue a master's. Little wonder then that for the US, as many as four Indian cities Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore --- are among the largest senders of students who want to wrap up their education with an American degree in STEM ---  short for science, technology, engineering and maths, according to Brookings report.

These Indian graduates are likely to get to spend more time in the United States with President Barack Obama clearing the new immigration policy.

The optional training programme, which allows F-1 (student) visa holders to work full-time in the US for up to 29 months after receiving an American bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in STEM, will be relaxed further. Of all international students flying to the US for an education, most sign up for either a business management course or a STEM programme.

Collectively, the STEM fields account for 37% of all F-1 visa approvals. Among foreign STEM students, 31% are from China, 27% from India and 5% from South Korea.

Hyderabad sent 26,220 students to America between 2008 and 2012, and 20,840 of these attended STEM classes. Hyderabad was followed by Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai and Mumbai. Of all those who flew out from the country's commercial capital, 61.5% -10,638 of 17,294 --- joined a STEM course.

Source: The Times of India, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

60% rise in GRE applicants from India

Indian students aspiring to go abroad for studies seem to be increasing like never before. Students appearing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), whose score is widely accepted for admission to colleges in the United States, saw a whopping 60% jump in the past year. Engineering continues to be the most sought after subject for Indians taking the test.

The report, `Snapshots of the individuals who took the GRE revised general test', released by ETS, the testing agency points to a huge jump in the number of Indians taking GRE even as the rest of the world shows only a marginal increase. China, a major competitor, has shown a 7% dip in number of students appearing for this exam.

In India, the number of candidates taking the exam was around 30,000 in 2011-12. The number rose to 53,505 the next year and touched 84,841 by 2013-14. The number of students vying for it tripled in two years. Physical sciences is second in demand. This includes subjects like Chemistry, Computer Science and Information, Physics and Astronomy, Mathematical Sciences and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Business also saw a huge increase. Around 10,000 students said they hadn't yet decided on the subject.

The US continues to be the major study destination. However, Canada and Europe are increasingly becoming popular. The percentage of women taking the test dipped marginally compared to the past two years. According to a new report released by the US immigration and customs enforcement of the department of homeland security, the total number of Indian students studying in the US shot up 28% to 1,34,292. India has the second-largest foreign student body in the US after China.

Source: The Times of India, November 22, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coursera set to increase its presence in India

Online education firm Coursera is in talks with educational institutes and companies in the country as it looks to further expand presence in the Indian market, one of its top-five revenue generators.

Coursera, which offers courses from top global universities like Duke, Caltech, Stanford and Princeton, has recently signed its first partnership in India with the Indian School of Business (ISB).

"We are very excited about the opportunities here. India is our second largest user-base already with 800,000 students registered. It is also one of the top five countries in terms of revenue generated for Coursera," Coursera Chief Executive Officer Richard C Levin told PTI.

He added that India's relative position is likely to improve over time, given the high value Indian employers place on the potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs) for developing skills relevant for employees and prospective employees.

Coursera offers free online courses across multiple disciplines for free. However, it charges a fee for certification for the course. It offers about 800 courses from 115 universities.

"We are educating companies here on the benefits of our model and they have been very receptive. They are interested in using our model for their own employees since its an alternate way of taking courses," he said.

Levin added that Coursera is in discussions with companies on how its courses can be blended and taken offline for training employees.

Coursera's largest market is the US, where it has close to 4 million users. Globally, it has about 10 million people undertaking various courses through its platform.

Source: The Economic Times, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

After 3-yr lull, Indian students rediscover lure of US degrees

The number of Indian students in the United States increased by 6% to 102,673 in the academic year 2013-2014, reversing a three year trend of their declining numbers at American campuses. But Chinese students continued to surge into the US, edging up to 300,000.

The annual `Open Doors' report on international student traffic in and out of the US shows that nearly one in three foreign students on US campuses is now from China (31%) compared to only around one in eight from India (12%). China, India, and Korea (8%) between them account for more than 50% of the 886,000 international students, who contributed $27 billion to the US economy .

The modest reversal in the Indian student inflow into the US belies earlier reports that there has been a 26% spike in their numbers. In fact, after peaking at nearly 105,000 in 2009-2010 academic year, Indian student population in the US dropped to 96,754 in 20122013 as other destinations like the UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe hawked their educational wares before the continuing US allure kicked in this year.

The US remains the preferred destination for foreign students, the report says, hosting more of the world's 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, with almost double the number hosted by the UK, the second leading host country .

Still, the Indian student inflow into the US story pales in comparison with that of the Chinese invasion over the past 15 years during which `Open Doors' has monitored the traffic. In 2000, China and India were not too far apart in terms of student traffic into the US, each having close to 45,000 students in the world's most favored destination. At one point in the 1990s, there were more students in the US from India than from China. China has since pulled away. There are now five times as many Chinese students on US campuses as were reported in Open Doors 2000; but only two times as many Indian students.

The last few years has also seen a massive spike in student inflow from Saudi Arabia (which, at 54,000 students) now stands 4th after China, India, and South Korea), mainly on the strength of government scholarships. Significantly, Pakistan, which used to send a large number of students to the US, now does not even feature in the Top 25.

New York University became the leading host university for international students this year, after 12 years during which University of Southern California was the leader. For the first time ever, four institutions broke the 10,000 mark: New York University, University of Southern California, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and Columbia University, which each hosted more than 10,000 international students.

Source: The Times of India, November 18, 2014

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)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Enrolment of Indian students in US up by 28%

The total number of Indian students studying in the US shot up 28% to 134,292 students, comprising the second largest foreign student body in America after China, according to a new report published on Thursday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

A startling majority - 65% - were studying engineering, computer science, and information technology and support services, and together with students in other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields made up 79% of all India students in America. As a result, though Indians only make up 12% of the foreign student population in the US, they constitute 26% of all foreign STEM students. Business, biology, and medicine were the next most popular fields of study, with the social sciences, humanities and liberal arts, and visual and performing arts the least popular fields.

The gender balance of Indian students is similarly skewered, two-thirds being male and only one-third being female. In total, there are 89,561 Indian male students and only 44,731 Indian female students.

A major reason for the rapid growth in students is economic, according to Naveen Chopra, Chairman of The Chopras, an educational consulting group based in Delhi. "The US economy is growing now, and unemployment has fallen from 10% to 6%," Chopra said, adding that "Indian students believe the US has the best opportunities for work."

This increase reflects a greater trend for both Indian undergraduate and graduate students studying in the US. The total number of Indian graduate students enrolled there has jumped 26% to 54,245 students, according to a new report released Wednesday by the American Council of Graduate Schools. This was the second consecutive year of double digit growth, building upon a 14% increase last year, and a sharp reversal in trend from years past when Indian graduate school enrollment was actually decreasing.

This was also by far the largest increase among Asian countries in the Council of Graduate Schools survey, compensating for sagging graduate enrollment rates in countries such as China, with a mere 3% increase, and Korea, with a 6% decrease. Only Brazil, which sends less than one-twentieth the number of students India does to the US, saw higher growth at 32%.

The number of Indian students in Australia and New Zealand are also increasing. Australia, which registered a huge dip in Indian student enrollment after a series of racially motivated attacks on Indian students in 2009, has recovered in recent years with total student visa applications from India more than doubling from 2012 to 2013.

However, Indian enrollment in the United Kingdom has been plummeting, dropping 44% from 2010-11 to 2012-13, says the Higher Education Funding Council for England, going from 18,535 to 10,235 students during that time period. This was mainly because of changes in visa regulations, said Chopra. "The UK curtailed their two-year, post-study work visa in 2012, which used to let students stay in the UK to find employment after graduation," he pointed out. "As a result, the middle class market collapsed. But you still find many upper class students going to the UK."

Scholarships may also be a factor. "The US is way ahead of the UK and Australia in scholarships, which allows hardworking middle class Indian students to go to the US," Chopra said. A National Union of Students survey found earlier this year that nearly 63% of Indian PhD students in the UK felt the UK government was "not welcoming" or "not welcoming at all".

This precarious drop has sent the UK scrambling to repair its tattered image. UK universities and sciences minister Nick Clark recently visited India for three days to strengthen educational ties between the UK and India and to address "misconceptions" that Indian students might have about the difficulty of obtaining visas to the UK. During his stay he also announced a new five-year initiative to send 25,000 students from the UK to India.

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

India, UK set up 50 million pound fund for research

India and the UK on Wednesday announced setting up of a 50 million pound Newton-Bhabha Fund which will be used for multi-disciplinary cooperation in the fields of science, research and innovation between the two countries.

Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said the programme was aimed at providing financial assistance to the best minds from both countries in carrying out scientific research and innovation.

"Scientists, academicians, research scholars and administrators from both countries have come forward to undertake joint-research activities for developing a scientific temper among the people. Newton-Bhabha Fund is a tribute to the famous icons Homi J. Bhabha and Sir Issac Newton from both the lands. The programme aims to provide 50 million pounds to the best minds of both countries in addressing the global challenges through the application of science and technology," Vardhan said.

Delegates from both the countries deliberated on various issues at a meeting of the 4th UK-India Science and Innovation Council and decided to go for joint new research projects in mental health and substance abuse among others.

"I hope this exciting new programme will deliver as much to global science as Newton and Bhabha. By working together to address big societal challenges, like sustainable cities, health, food, energy and water, the UK and India can deliver tangible benefits for our countries and the world," said Greg Clark, British minister for Universities, Science and Cities.

Source: The Times of India, November 13, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Number of Indian women executives taking GMAT at all-time high

With Indian and global multinationals wanting more women in their workforce, seasoned women executives appear to be keen to re-skill. According to the latest data from Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the number of women from India taking the test in the age group of 25-40 years, who are mostly professionals with work experience, have risen to an all-time high with a 14% increase year on year.

The total number of women from India appearing for the GMAT also hit an all-time high in 2014, with a 17% increase in July-June 2014, compared with the same period a year ago. This compares with a 12% increase in the number of GMAT test takers (men and women combined) from TY2013 to TY2014, suggesting that the pace of growth of women test takers from India has surpassed the growth in the total number of Indian test takers (men and women combined). The total number of women also include a 20.2% increase in the number of women in the age group below 25.

GMAC data is presented in testing years. A testing year (TY) runs from July 1 to June 30, mirroring the academic year. "Most large and evolved organisations are taking a much greater interest in furthering the career of women. There is a lot more conviction and seriousness around their careers," says Amitabh Jhingan, partner and education sector leader at consulting firm EY. That is driving this uptick in the number of women professionals wanting to re-skill, he adds.

The top 10 Destinations to which Indian citizens, both men and women, sent their scores in TY 2014 include US (55.4%), India (6.2%), Singapore (6.6%), UK (5.8%), Canada (5.1%), France (4.7%), Spain (1.4%), Australia (1.0%), Germany (0.8%), and Hong Kong (0.7%).

"We wanted more women to come into this. Whoever we talk to - corporate recruiters, business schools - all want more women...We started systematically with candidate outreach in campuses, particularly those that are women only. We talked to them about GMAT as an option to study abroad and in India," says Ashish Bhardwaj, Vice President - Asia Pacific at GMAC. The GMAT exam is valid for admission into masters, MBA and executive MBA in India and abroad. The test scores are valid for five years.

The 14% increase in the number of women test takers in the age group of 25-40 years could also suggest that pressures of marriage and motherhood are no longer forbidding mid-level women professionals from opting for further education.

The increase is a clear pointer that women's aspiration and confidence levels have gone up, which in turn is boosted by a feeling that their aspirations will be met. This also means more women will be hired, says Saundarya Rajesh, founder and head of Avtar Career Creators, a talent strategy consulting firm. "We have seen that this hiring sentiment of organisations has gone up in the past 6-8 months and more importantly, the intent to hire women has gone up... This is also a clear indication that more women are wanting to be hired. That is (seen in) the trend of women returning to the workplace," she adds.

The focus is shifting from technology to behavioural and leadership skills as one grows. "Corporate India has raised the benchmark on their expectations from potential talent available in the market. Also, up-skilling is essential at varied levels of career progression," says Gayathri Ramamurthy, lead - diversity and inclusion at Capgemini India.

Also, there are more women role models, which could be prompting an increasing number of women professionals to re-skill. "There are many more women in the CEO/CXO position than five years ago," says Savita Mahajan, Deputy Dean, ISB, Hyderabad. Besides sectors like banking and finance, which have been seeing women at senior levels for a few years, e-commerce and technology services are also seeing more women, she adds. Another motivator could be the increase in the number of young women getting into start-ups and entrepreneurial situations, says Mahajan.

Moreover, with an increasing number of multinational companies setting up their offices in India and strengthening the support system for women in the form of flexible work policies, work from home, sabbatical and sometimes even corporate sponsorship, there is this growing trend of women professionals wanting to up-skill, said experts. "Gender is very much a part of agenda for the MNCs outside and they are bringing it to India as well," says Mahajan.

Source: The Economic Times, November 11, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Only 37% graduates employable, women beat men

An assessment of 300,000 students across 29 states and seven Union territories has found only 37% to be employable with women candidates faring better than men. This is an improvement from last year when the tests found only 34% of the candidates employable. The survey showed that 38% women candidates were employable compared to 34% among males. These are the finding from the India Skill Report (ISR) compiled by human resource consulting firms Wheebox, PeopleStrong, Linked-in and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The top states with employable skill pool were Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala and Karnataka. These states have held their positions from last year while U.P, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Orissa have joined the list this year.

"We found that skill levels across states have moved up. What is heartening is that states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which were not there in the top states list have come in," said Nirmal Singh, founder and CEO of Wheebox.

On the demand side an overall increase of about 23% is expected in the hiring numbers per month. The job outlook confirms that there is an expectation of a growing market in the coming years. An acceleration in economic growth and new projects coming on stream are expected to have a positive impact on the hiring outlook.

Hospitality and travel lead the way, followed by banking, financial services and insurance and core sectors where this increase is more than 25% compared to last year's numbers, according to the survey. Apart from other manufacturing (excluding auto, consumer goods and durables,), pharma and healthcare and telecom, almost all other sectors expect an increase of more than 10% in monthly hiring numbers.

Spread of hiring is no longer restricted to few states. States with maximum hiring activity were Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, UP, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh. Preferred states for operating in India were Maharashtra , followed by Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

The survey found that an increasing number of candidates from the talent supply side are looking for apprenticeship. This number increased to 76% compared to 55% last year.

While test takers from arts domain experienced a substantial increase in the employability as compared to last year (from 19.1% to 29.8%), there were few domains such as B.Com., B.Sc., ITI and polytechnic where this number dropped by about 1-3%, the report showed. "This shows that areas like arts, commerce and polytechnics should receive special focus. With new skill development activities being introduced by the government to increase employment; an inclusive plan with focus on these domains would be impactful," the report said.

In the age segment, 18-21 years were the most employable, continuing the trend from last year. Across age groups there has been a considerable increase in the employability,18-21 years 39.4%, 22-25 years 34%, 26-29 years 30%.

Compared to last year, this year there has been an increase in number of candidates, who are expecting an annual salary of Rs. 260,000 and above. About 7% expected a compensation of Rs. 260,000 this year compared to last year 0.1%.

The preferred areas of work were Chennai, the national capital region, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad.

The overall gender ratio across industry sectors has shown some improvement from last year. While last year the male to female ratio stood at 76:24, this year it was 68:32. .

Sectors which have more than a third of their workforce female are: banking, financial services and insurance, business process outsourcing /IT enabled services, pharma and healthcare, and telecom.

Source: The Times of India, November 10, 2014

Thursday, November 06, 2014

India to introduce credit transfer system for students on 11 November

After four years of debate, India will start a credit transfer system next week that will make it easier for students and working professionals to switch between education and jobs. On 11 November, observed as the National Education Day in India, the government will launch the credit equivalent framework from Class 9-12 level and will extend this till the PhD level in January, human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Zubin Irani said on Wednesday.

“We do not have a credit transfer system within our country that enables the migration of labour across the country,” she told delegates at a panel discussion at the India Economic Summit, organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The move will help individuals who leave formal education for a job to resume studies. The credit transfer system would facilitate people “get back to the education system as and when they desire”, said Irani reflecting on her own experience where she had to drop out to continue working.

She said her ministry has also advised universities that run directly under the union government to adopt the credit transfer system; a similar effort was earlier made by former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, but it remained a non-starter.

Irani, who was on a panel at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit, also focused on skills, one of the themes of this year’s conference, and an area of concern for both policymakers and industry.

Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director of HT Media Ltd, also part of the same panel, said there is a talent conundrum in India. “Though we talk about the huge demographic dividend that India enjoys, there are people without jobs and jobs without people.” Mint is published by HT Media Ltd.

Irani said her ministry would like to improve the “employability” of university graduates who are often branded as unemployable by industries. She announced that the government is asking universities to set up placement cells so as to encourage a dialogue between job seekers and job providers on the required skills sets.

India has nearly 35,800 colleges, over 600 universities and more than 11,000 stand-alone professional institutions such as engineering and management schools. Together, they prepare 29.6 million students for the workforce. Only, much of this preparation remains on paper; companies say the challenge is to get job-ready students.

Irani said she is open to work with the labour ministry, which trains students for shopfloor jobs at its Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). This is key to reviving manufacturing in India, one of the aims of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that has launched a Make in India campaign.

The key to employability is to ensure good teachers, good curriculum and good software in schools, said Uday Kotak, executive vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, also part of the panel. “The focus should be on getting software into schools rather than disproportionately pushing hardware,” Kotak said, emphasizing that the focus needs to be on intellectual capital and not on physical infrastructure.

Irani said that her government is working on a national education policy that it will unveil next year. Her ministry is working with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to provide free online courses. Only, instead of these being only delivered online, these will be provided on a hybrid model — both online and offline, she explained.

Education and employability can‘t be seen as separate issues, said Rituparna Chakraborty, senior vice-president of staffing company TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd and president of Indian Staffing Federation, an industry body. “The linear model of education that focus on only churning out degree holders need to change. Instead, businesses may insist on vocational education certified candidates and pay them due premium. Allowing students and professionals to seamlessly move across verticals—education and job market would do good both to the industries and academic institutions,” said Chakraborty. The credit transfer system, if implemented, will do just that.

Source: Mint, November 6, 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Indians put in 1-4 hours a week for GRE, Chinese 20

Most Indian students preparing for GRE study for one to four hours a week, when their Chinese counterparts put in over 20 hours. While Indians prefer studying late at night, students in China choose weekday evenings. Such trends were revealed by a study conducted by the Education Testing Services (ETS), which surveyed nearly 20,000 GRE applicants across the world.

While Indian students and their counterparts in the US, China and other regions in the world share certain routines, there are some noteworthy differences as well. Most Indian students, 44.1% of them, seem to prepare for the test for one to three months, but the world average of such students is much lower at 37.8%. Chinese pupils, around 36% of them, study over 20 hours a week, while around 30% Indians, those putting in the longest hours, put in only one to four hours a week.

According to Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS) President Apoorva Palkar, in any competitive exam, students are evaluated on their ability to respond on the spot. "It is also driven by the basic education system in the country. Chinese candidates have to invest more time and efforts in learning the language, while Indians have an advantage there," said Palkar. One cannot decide a student's competence level based on the time spent in studying, one just need to learn the right math and logic at school to be good, she added.

Dean of MISB Bocconi Himanshu Rai points out several Indians already have a job while they sit for GRE. "Since the corporate world is demanding, candidates may not be able to give enough time for preparations," said Rai, also a professor at SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan. But he is not convinced by the survey's report on study hours. "I feel candidates here put in almost similar hours as the Chinese. But GRE preparations are usually done by using flash cards, quiz, etc and so, these may not be part of the actual study hours," he said, adding Indians are capable of cracking tougher exams such as CAT, so are well versed with the process.

The survey also took a peek into candidates' snacking habit. Like Indians, most Chinese prefer to nibble on fruit, but the second largest percentage of Chinese like chocolates while studying. Fruit remains the top choice for even US students, but many seem to opt for healthier nuts and seeds. Usha Kiran Sisodia, head of diet and nutrition department, Nanavati Superspecialty Hospital, said, "Any kind of food individually is good, be it chocolate or chips, if the students have a healthy meal through the day."

Indian and Chinese are nearly thrice more likely to study with friends than those in the US, where 10% said their favorite study buddy was their pets.

Source: The Times of India, November 4, 2014

Monday, November 03, 2014

Indiana in India

Indiana University formally opened its gateway office in India to better engage with students and faculty from the country. The 3,700 square-foot suite within the Gurgaon headquarters of a US non-profit will host classes, pre-departure orientation sessions for new enrolees, conferences and other events.

Set up in February 2013 in co-operation with the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), the facility is meant to enable the university to accelerate academic activities and partnerships throughout India. The office will be used for organising symposiums, workshops, long-distance learning, lectures, working group meetings, alumni events, prospective student gatherings and more.

"The establishment of this facility is a part of our India strategy to enable us to work and collaborate with our Indian colleagues on matters of mutual interest in an atmosphere of engagement," said Michael A McRobbie, President, Indiana University, at the office located in AIIS, the NGO run by a consortium of US colleges and universities.

"We will learn from our Indian colleagues. Having a physical location in Gurgaon, which is a business hub, will help our business school students. Our overall strategy is to develop partnerships with a number of universities and to provide opportunities in re search, joint degrees to sup port studying abroad by our students from Indiana and by Indian students in the US."

He said the premises could serve as a base for classes. The university plans to use the place for visiting student groups from the Kellogg School of Business. The students would visit India for about a month every year to learn.

Besides that, aspirants can visit the office for information or clarifications regarding admissions. "This is an excellent first point of contact. Here, we have a full-time office administrator who knows the university thoroughly and can help Indian students. At different times, there will be faculty as well," he added. Also on the cards are partnerships with local universities.

Source: The Times of India, November 3, 2014

An Indian-French handshake for Joint Research

The Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, recently announced a partnership with a French company that specialises in aerospace, defence and security. The tie-up will entail sponsored research by faculty at the two institutes.

As the first step in the collaboration, IIT-D faculty and Safran will work on a project to increase computational efficiency at the chip level. At IISc, the organisation is going to work closely with the Supercomputer Education and Research Centre and assist one of its start-ups, Morphing Machines, dealing in fabless semiconductor IP and products.

"The intent is to take this partnership to higher levels of cooperation to conduct joint research and even award joint degrees with the company, if possible, in the future," said Mary Mathew, Professor, Management Studies, IISc. She also invited Safran to consider setting up a research centre at IISc.

According to Anil Wali, Managing Director of the foundation, which acts as an interface between businesses and academia, it is important to engage with industry to keep an institution abreast of the latest developments in the field. "We are also setting up science parks to promote research and development. These science parks will not be purely commercial entities, but will focus on a specific research area," he says.

"Some of the faculty members in the department of electrical engineering expressed interest in carrying out research in the areas highlighted by Safran," explains Wali. "This is our first brush with the company and we hope that it will serve as a model for deeper engagement in the future."

Source: The Times of India (Online Edition), November 3, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Government to restructure AICTE

The government on Friday set the ball rolling to restructure the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the apex education regulator of the country with more than 11,000 professional colleges under its purview, and try to curb the “commercialization” of education by private entities.

As part of the effort, a 15-point review of the AICTE will look at, among other things, four contentious issues. The issues are curbing commercialization in technical education, a regulatory tussle between AICTE and the University Grants Commission (UGC), amending the AICTE Act, and separation of the grant-giving and oversight powers.

“There is a realization that AICTE is finding it difficult to match the demand of private players in the field of technical education. It is a fact that a lot of private institutions have come up in technical education sector and there is a growing trend of commercialization of technical education and the laid-down norms and standards are not fully implemented,” said a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) order, which was made public on Friday.

“The technical education sector needs to be re-oriented in light of these difficulties...and technical education needs to be redefined. Therefore, it’s imperative that an urgent review of AICTE be conducted,” said the order issued by Amarjeet Sinha, Additional Secretary, Higher Education. Recognizing the “need for restructuring and strengthening” AICTE to address challenges, the MHRD has also set up a review committee led by former education secretary M.K. Kaw for “fullest realization” of technical learning and research potential in India.

A government official, requesting anonymity, said the mandate has the imprint of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) manifesto for the April-May general elections. In its manifesto, the party had said it will strive to restore the “credibility of the regulatory bodies”. It had also said that UGC will be restructured and transformed into a higher education commission rather than just being a grant distribution agency. The government had earlier set up a committee to review UGC.

“AICTE is a key regulator and its restructuring will go a long way in redefining the private-dominated professional education in the country,” said the government official.

Source: Mint, November 1, 2014

Tamil Nadu ranks third in enrolment in higher education

Tamil Nadu has been ranked third in the country in the gross enrolment ratio (GER) as per the provisional survey on higher education (2012-13) of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Only Union territories of Chandigarh (51.3) and Puducherry (42.1) are ranked above the state, which has a GER score of 41. GER is calculated by dividing the number of college students in the 18-23 age group by the total population in that age group.

Experts say states and Union territories with a better GER in high and higher secondary levels and good college density will always rank high in enrolment in higher education. Delhi was placed fourth with a score of 38.5 followed by Uttrakhand (33.1) and Manipur (30.3). Daman & Diu was at the bottom with 4.3. Other states and Union territories with poor GER include Dadra & Nagar Haveli (6.3), Jharkhand (10.1), Bihar (11.2), Chhattisgarh and Lakshadweep (11.8) and Assam (12.8).

The national average is 21.1 (men 22.3 and women 19.8). The total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 29.6 million (men 16.3 million and women 13.3 million). Women constitute 45% of the total enrolment.

In terms of the number of colleges per 100,000 population in the 18-23 age group, Puducherry ranks first with 61 followed by Andhra Pradesh (48), Karnataka (44), Himachal Pradesh (38), Maharashtra (35), Kerala (34) and Tamil Nadu, Goa and Haryana with 33. The national average for college density is 25.

Lakshadweep, which does not have a single institution, is at the bottom, while Bihar and Daman & Diu have just six institutions per 100,000 population. College density is also poor in Jharkhand (7), Delhi, West Bengal and Dadra & Nagar Haveli (9) and Tripura (10). There are no universities in the Union territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.

Women constituted 39% of the teaching population. There are just 64 women teachers per 100 male teachers. The survey covered all higher education institutions in the country — universities (665), colleges (35,829) and stand-alone institutions (11,443).

Source: The Times of India, November 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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