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“Higher Education Drives and is Driven by Globalisation� Prof K S Rangappa, the Vice Chancellor of Karnataka State Open University has three decades of research and teaching experience as Junior and Senior Research Fellow, Lecturer, Reader, Professor and Director at Post Graduate Department of Chemistry, University of Mysore. Prof. K S Rangappa highlights evolving higher education in India and role of ICT in an interview with Pragya Gupta, digitalLEARNING bureau


Academia Speak

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digitalLEARNING / JULY 2011


Academia Speak

How do you see higher education evolving in India with respect to global scenario? Globalisation is changing the structure of higher education radically by moving the services across boundaries, instead of the movement of people across the borders as witnessed earlier. Such migration of education from its location to new locations in search of clients is necessitating institutions of higher education in India to reorganise themselves to withstand the competition from the developed countries. Globalisation helps realise the benefits of free trade, and thus comparative advantage and the division of labour. It is also supposed to enhance efficiency and productivity. In this context there is a need for a common table to discuss the issues and challenges faced in higher education, the World Education Summit 2011 event is an answer to this. One response to the danger of losing one’s job due to the erosion of professional qualifications or to the loss of markets, causing the breakdown of enterprises, is to increase the average level of active population qualifications. This could be accomplished through both enhanced initial education and training and through expansion of continuing •

Prof. Rangappa received his PhD from the University of Mysore (1982) and has been awarded the DSc degree by the University of Mysore for his independent research contribution (1998). He is the Fellow of The Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC; UK) and Fellow of National Academy of Sciences (FNASc) India.

Apart from the research activities of his own group, he has developed several National and International (Indo – Japan, Indo – French, Indo – Germany, Indo-NUS) collaborative research programmes. Prof Rangappa has published more than 300 research papers in national and international peer reviewed journals and presented more than 100 research papers in national and international conferences.


education. The latter will involve upgrading, extending or reconverting professional knowledge and skills, in order to keep abreast of market needs, either as an employee or a self-employed person. Higher education should be able to produce, in the long run, enough graduates to assure that they reach roughly one-half of the active population. Con-

lenge. Being an academician I cannot imagine education without ICT. What are the initiatives you have been taking in education and for the University? The main challenge, however is quality improvement and how it can be addressed through modernisation, re-

“The technology revolution is an opportunity to derive the most beneficial outcomes from these extraordinary new tools that are now available to us” tinuing education and training should take the shape of genuinely learning, touching not only the whole occupationally active population but also all remaining members of the civil society. How do you see the role of ICT in universalising education? As we can see, the growth and penetration of digital technologies in recent years have greatly influenced education and the educational practices in India. The 11th five year plan suggests the allocation of more than `600 crore specifically for integrating ICT in school education. The Indian Government also has plans to spend abundant resources on information and communications technologies (ICT) aimed at enhancing access and at improving educational quality in India through both the regular and the distance mode. As the Government increases its investments in ICTs for education, continued efforts, must be made to ensure that investments in technology positively impact all aspects of education, including intangible aspects such as community development, inculcating values, psychological and cognitive developments, development of social skills, and development of critical and creative faculty. The technology revolution, an opportunity to derive the most beneficial outcomes from these extraordinary new tools are now available to us. Surely that’s even more of an opportunity than a chal-

search, and networking of the universities and other educational departments in this region. Networking through local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) would also lead to increased academic activities and research. The burden of responsibility towards social needs of community development stands as a distinct marker of the ODL system thus enjoining upon its practitioners to maintain practices reinforcing ideas of ‘openness’ with reference to the teacher-student relationship. It does well for us to outline the logistical dimensions of ODL whose cost-effectiveness has supplied the need for ‘open’ systems of learning. In pragmatic terms ‘openness’ translates into diverging practices of transmitting not merely knowledge but also philosophical values. It is barring the learners to learn things best-suited for their self-development. I feel that there is still an occidentalism at work. The initiatives include easy access from any internet connection, quick and easily available information, involvement of parents and peers in the educational processes, monitoring of self-progress, simple interface for easy data input, improvised communications between policy makers and other stakeholders. Such initiatives have greatly influenced the exploration of new pathways in higher education system in general and to our University in particular. My University has taken initiatives in spreading higher edu-

Academia Speak

research. Basic research remains at our core. If it’s not done in the universities it won’t be done anywhere. At the same time, the public and legislators look to us more and more to do applied research that will provide useful knowledge to solve today’s problems.

cation in Science and Law by launching programmes like M.Sc in Food Science and Nutrition, Information Technology, Geography, Mathematics and Computer Science, M.Sc Tech in Environmental Science and Technology and LLM from the academic year 2011-12. In coming years there are plans to launch masters programme in Chemistry, Bio-Chemistry, Physics and Statistics. Further all these programmes will be online also. What are the key challenges in front of higher education? Growing flows of knowledge, people and financing across national borders feed both worldwide collaboration and competition. These effects of globalisation increasingly impact higher education. How then might the future higher education scene look at the global level? What are the challenges and opportunities brought by globalisation? How can countries and institutions best cope with and benefit from future changes? As proposed by Prof Albert Carnesale, the university, particularly the research university, is an old and a complex organisation. It’s a center of scholarly life and it’s dedicated to finding new knowledge, disseminating knowledge, preserving knowledge and preserving our culture, so it has many missions that are performed. Going to identify four challenges brought about by changes in our environment — rapid changes that we’re all feeling — some technological, some demographic, some economic. Meeting these challenges is going to determine with certainty, which universities will survive through and may determine whether universities as we know them will survive through. Secondly it is the technology revolution, by which I mean primarily the information technology revolution. The rise of democracy has made higher education a priority for the mass of people. It’s no longer something which is available simply to the political and economic elite. There are very different public expectations regarding the academic enterprise. We’ve got some classical challenges that are getting harder for us to meet. One of those classical challenges is determining whom to

Please share your vision for higher education? Higher education drives and is driven by globalisation. It trains the highly skilled workers and contributes to the research based and capacity for innovation that determine competitiveness in the knowledge-based global economy. It facilitates international collaboration and crosscultural exchange. Cross-border flows of ideas, students, faculty and financing, coupled with developments in informa-

“Mass education at all levels will be a permanent requirement to meet the challenges of the Knowledge Society” teach? Who is it that should come to the university? On the one hand, as a public university we feel an obligation to serve all of the constituencies by protecting access to the university. At the same time, we just can’t handle that many people. In my view, young people today, and their parents, focus too strongly on that first job and how to prepare for that. Industries need knowledge workers who know something about this technology revolution. At the same time we all hear about how every young person today can expect to have multiple careers. Well, should we be training them for the first job or should we be training them how to adapt to multiple careers? We have to prepare leaders for a global economy. That means some breadth in your education. It goes against specialisation. This trade-offs of what to teach are tougher and tougher for us. Determining how to teach? I’ll have more to say about that when I talk about the information technology revolution because that’s where we’re picking up that pressure. Finally, it’s determining how to balance this process of discovery and

tion and communication technology, are changing the environment where higher education institutions function. Co-operation and competition are intensifying simultaneously under the growing influence of market forces and the emergence of new players. Increased global competition in higher education, simultaneous to cross-border collaboration is illustrated not only on a global scale, but also at a regional level through developments. There is a need to appreciate the shift in demand for applied education particularly towards IT, Bioinformatics, Nanotechnology, etc. Mass education at all levels will be a permanent requirement to meet the challenges of the Knowledge Society. Existing dedicated single-mode ODL institutions will probably continue to grow and new ones will be created. On the other hand, the creation of associations, consortia and networks among all these kinds of organisations is a reasonable way to create economies of scale and to share resources and development costs with the possible added value of increasing the global quality of the system. \\ digitalLEARNING / JULY 2011


digitalLEARNING-July-2011-[54-57]-Higher Education  

Prof K S Rangappa, the Vice Chancellor of Karnataka State Open University has three decades of research and teaching experience as Junior an...

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