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Volume 03 Issue 09


eDU | volume 03 | Issue 09

A 9.9 Media Publication september 2012


Breaking the

Mould Autonomous colleges are breaking away from their parent universities and raising the bar for themselves and others Pg 16


A preview of EDU survey on achieving institutional excellence P28 DIALOGUE

Prof PB Sharma, VC, Delhi Technological University

Enase Okonedo, Dean, Lagos Business School, on business education in Africa P32

FOREWORD The Will to Excel


“We know that probably what comes in our path to excel is our own lack of will to do so”

y the time you are reading this, you are either at the Second Annual Vice Chancellor’s Retreat or just back from it. Between August 31 and September 2, around 50 higher education leaders from across the country will meet at Westin Sohna in Gurgaon to deliberate on the theme Delivering ExcellenceAgainst the Odds. Prior to this, we conducted preliminary online survey in August on Achieving Institutional Excellence, asking you all to rate the factors that, as academicians, you consider most important to delivering excellence, and by corollary, the odds in the way of doing it. We got an amazing 400 responses that helped us draft our agenda and discussion sessions for the Retreat. Thank you for being part of the change that we are trying to drive through our endeavour. It is heartening to note that among all the communities of 9.9 Media, the EDU community is the most engaged, involved and vocal. One of the major survey findings was that government policies and regulatory constraints figure among the least important factors on your scale. That’s quite a surprise and a happy one. We often blame regulations and policies for our slow progress in higher education. Yet we know that probably what comes in our path to excel is our own lack of will to do so. The cover story on ‘autonomy’ clearly brings out the importance of the ‘will to excel’. It pushes a college to aim for the autonomous tag and further drives its standards upwards. A change in policy provided colleges with the option of going autonomous with the freedom to design their own curriculum and pedagogy (incidentally voted as the second most important factor in our survey). A big plus in the debate on the autonomous versus affiliated colleges, this freedom motivates the faculty (quality of faculty was voted as the most important factor) and pushes them to perform. In the final analysis however, we know that whether one chooses to opt for autonomy like Delhi Technological University, or decides to stay affiliated like St Stephens College, it is the will to excel that makes them reach the top. In this issue, we bring to you a sneak preview of what the survey unfolded. Following the Retreat, we will bring out a special issue on the survey findings as well as on the deliberations during the three-day sessions.

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha

September 2012  EduTech


Contents EDU september 2012


Viewpoint 08 mj xAVIER Education to become truly priceless


Viewpoint 11 Pushkar Why location matters when setting up a new campus



Technology 38 Massive Open opportunities MOOC has its share of detractors, but it is surely revolutionising the way we teach and learn By Tushar Kanwar 42 tech Interview Lalit Kathpalia, educator and researcher on IT Management By Padmaja Shastri

Credible schools are seeking partnerships in Africa” —Enase Okonedo

Dean, Lagos Business School, Nigeria

44 tech tute Manage you(r) brand online By Tushar Kanwar

Timeout 32

EduTech  September 2012

Find out what’s currently happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU 48 China Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Foreign Students By Mary Hennock 51 Hardly a Ringing Endorsement for Australia By Susan Woodward

46 tech Interview Grainne Conole, Professor of Learning Innovation By Mitia Nath


Global perspective

54 books 55 gizmos & gadgets


Managing Director: Pramath Raj Sinha PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Anuradha Das Mathur managing editor: Smita Polite

cover Story

16 The Autonomous Badge

Autonomous colleges are daring to carve their own path by raising the bar and setting new benchmarks By Charu Bahri

20 Raising the Bar

Prof Murali Manickam, Principal, Presidency College, Chennai, tells EDU why autonomous status of the college has proven to be good

24 Taking the Leap

Prof PB Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Delhi Technological University (DTU) tells EDU why autonomy matters

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56 Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis A renowned Indian scientist and applied satistician, is best known for his discovery— Mahalanobis Distance

Scientech IFC Inventi 14-15 Agilent Technolgies BC This index is provided as an additional service. The publisher does not assume any liabilities for errors or omissions.


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MOULD Autonomous colleges are breaking away from their parent universities and raising the bar for themselves and others Pg 16



A preview of EDU survey on achieving institutional excellence P28 DIALOGUE

Prof PB Sharma, VC, Delhi Technological University

Enase Okonedo, Dean, Lagos Business School, on business education in Africa P32

Cover ART: design:pETERSON Photo: subhojit paul

Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling

September 2012  EduTech


from the world of higher education

05 Vacant 05 uniform 06 test 06 university 07 awarded 07 session & more

Shetye TO BE new Goa varsity VC Satish Shetye, the Director of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), has been appointed the new Vice Chancellor of Goa University (GU). Shetye, who replaces Dileep Deobagkar, is one of the two selected for the distinguished alumnus award of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, for 2006. He took over as NIO director in 2004. Shetye has been asked to take charge with immediate effect as his tenure at NIO ends in October 2012.

IGNOU gets a new VC

COMMITTED: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal at the Consultative Committee Meeting said that technology will be leveraged to improve teaching

UGC to Improve Teaching Quality Commission proposes centres of education management across national-level institutions to improve teaching skills proposal The University Grants Commission (UGC) has proposed setting up of regional centres of educational management in the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Bangalore, and in the National University of Educational Planning and Administration. The Commission has also proposed creating centres of excellence in science and mathematics education at the Indian Institute of Science and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research for development of a specialised cadre of teacher-educators. A proposal presentation was made at the Consultative Committee Meeting of HRD Ministry recently. Addressing the meeting, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said that the National Mission on Education through ICT would address current and urgent issues such as supply of qualified teachers, attracting talent in the teaching profession and raising the quality of teaching across Indian schools and colleges.


EduTech  September 2012

Prof Gopinath Pradhan has taken over as the new Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Pradhan, 60, joined IGNOU in 1993 and was the director of the University’s School of Social Sciences (SOSS) since 2010. A professor of economics, he was associated with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi, prior to his association with the IGNOU. Several research papers by Pradhan have been published in national and international journals.

PP Mathur is VC of KIIT Dr PP Mathur has been appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the Bhubaneswarbased Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT). Prior to this appointment, he was working as the Dean of the School of Life Sciences and Bioinformatics at the Pondicherry University. KIIT is a co-educational, autonomous university located at Bhubaneswar in the Indian state of Orissa. It was one of the youngest institutions to be awarded the deemed university status in India and then the university status in 2004, and is also a Limca Book of Records holder. KIIT was established in 1992 as an Industrial Training Institute with only 12 students and two faculty members.


Vacant Teaching Posts in Varsities Most of the vacancies are in the reserved categories in the 40 central universities Vacant Most of the posts reserved for teachers from the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) are lying vacant in 40 central universities across the country. Figures from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) show that less than a third (29%) of the total sanctioned posts for SCs have been filled in 40 central universities. Of the total of 2,521 sanctioned SC posts, only 742 have been filled. For STs, out of 1,265 sanctioned posts, only 331 (26%) have been filled. In Jamia Millia Islamia, only 58 of the 124 sanctioned posts for SCs have been filled.   For STs, the university has 62 sanctioned posts, of which only 17 have been filled. The situation is worse in the Aligarh Muslim University. It has only

one SC teacher, and not a single ST teacher against the sanctioned number of 283 for SC and 142 for STs. Delhi University has 255 posts for SCs and 128 for STs. But appointments have been made for only 44 SC and 14 ST seats. In Jawaharlal Nehru University, 109 posts have been Empty: Central universities are struggling with an sanctioned for SCs and 62 acute shortage of faculty members for STs. The university has, the central universities in Karnataka, however, hired only 24 SC and 46 ST Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Orissa, teachers for these posts. The Indira Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, Gandhi National Open University has with the institutions filling up more filled up only 28 of the 67 sanctioned than 90 per cent of the vacancies for posts for SCs and 13 of the 33 posts for SCs and STs. STs. The situation is however better in

Oxford University Changes Dress Code uniform Oxford University has changed its strict laws governing academic dress code which was perceived as being unfair towards transgender students. Under the new rules, gender specific ceremonial clothing is no longer compulsory on formal occasions like taking exams or attending formal functions. Now men can wear skirts and stockings and women suits and bow ties. The law was passed by the student union following a motion put up by the university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer society (LGBTQ Soc). Jess Pumphrey, LGBTQ Soc’s executive officer, said the change would make students experience less stress. Oxford University said: “The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that the existing regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students.” Simone Webb, President of LGBTQ Soc, said: “This is an extremely positive step, and indeed long overdue.”

global update


transgender people live in the UK (GIRES)


transgenders in a survey (Morton 2008) experienced transphobic harrassment

September 2012  EduTech



Common Test Plan for Varsities Vice Chancellor of Central University of Tamil Nadu, BP Sanjay, will chalk out the policy document explaining the proposed test test After implementation of comthat broadmon entrance examination for IITs, the ly concerns Ministry of human resource developrelated to ment (MHRD) is working on a single issues such entrance test for undergraduate proas the scale grammes for central universities of the across country. examinaAccording to sources, Vice chancellors’ of the centr a l un i v e r s i t i e s h a ve agreed to work towards a common entrance examicentral nation for admission. varsities to fall The proposed examinawithin the tion plan was discussed purview of during the Vice Chancellor’s Retreat which was the CET held recently at Chandigarh. Sources informed


CET: A single entrance examination for admission to 42 central universities is on anvil

tion, the impact on the quality of students. At present, there are 42 central universities in the country. Out of which, seven central universities— Bihar, Jammu, Jharkhand, Kashmir, Kerala, Rajasthan a n d Ta m i l Na d u — a r e already carrying out a limited common entrance test.

According to a report, the task of preparing a policy document and explaining the proposed examination, has been entrusted to the Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Tamil Nadu, BP Sanjay. The ministry has also made it clear that minority central universities like the Aligarh Muslim University and some others such as the Indian Maritime University may opt out of participating in the common examination.

EVENt Update

Capital to Get a Dental School Soon university To promote the research and education in the field of Dental Medical Science, the Delhi government is planning to upgrade Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences (MAIDS) as a university. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced that the state government is all set to upgrade MAIDS as a fullfledged university. The government is searching a land for its expansion. Dikshit made this announcement while unveiling the statue of Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, in the MAIDS campus. Dikshit said, “We want to upgrade the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences as a full-fledged university and the


EduTech  September 2012

vacant land adjacent to the existing institute may be used for the expansion.” She also said t h e re wo u l d b e more emphasis on research and all nine departments are likely to be given a facelift by adding more staff and space to them. Currently, the institute faces an acute shortage of staff and space in proportion to the number of patients it treats. Pointing to the importance of the institute, the chief minister stated that in the last fiscal, MAIDS saw a footfall of close to 2.5 lakh patients.


Ashoke Sen Awarded voices the Fundamental Physics Prize Sen is one of nine scientists recognised for his contributions to the study of physics Awarded Ashoke Sen, a scientist at Chandra Research Institute since 1995. the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Sen received the Padma Shree in 2001 Allahabad, has been awarded with the and the SS Bhatnagar Award in 1994. He Fundamental Physics Prize. He will be was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of one of the nine scientists who will London in 1998, and to the Indian receive the inaugural prize, launched National Science Academy in 1995. by a Russian physicist-turned-internet The other inaugural recipients of investor. Sen has already received t h e Fu n d a m e n t a l P h y s i c s P r i z e the $3-million prize for pioneering work are American-Canadian Nima Arkanio n S t r i n g T h e o r y, a n Hamed, American Alan attempt to unify the Guth, Russian-American theories of gravity and Alexei Kitaev, Russian quantum mechanics. Maxim Konstevich, Sen, a graduate from CalRussian-American dollars have cutta University, obtained Andrei Linde, Argentinian his Master’s from the Indibeen rewarded Juan Maldacena, Israeli an Institute of Technology, American Nathan to Sen for his Kanpur, and a Doctorate Seiberg and American contribution from the State University of Edward Witten. to physics New York. He has been a Like Sen, all are star professor at the Harish fundamental physicists.

3 mn

Nalanda to Start Session from 2014 Chancellor of University, Amartya Sen, sets 2014 deadline for two schools Session Addressing a function, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said, “We will start a new academic journey with School of Economics and Management and School of Information Technology.” Stressing on increased Public Private Partnership for building the university, Sen lauded the efforts of the Centre as well as the Bihar Government for giving shape to the university, located in the town of Rajgir which contains within it a memory of the ancient Nalanda University. It may be recalled that Nalanda University was established in November 2010. It came into being by a special Act of the Indian Parliament, a testimony to the important status it occupies in the Indian intellectual landscape. Member, University’s mentor group, Sugata Bose said the university has approved 26 faculty positions, 13 each for School of Historical Studies and 13 for School of Environment and Ecological Studies and the faculty will be appointed by July, 2013.

“With over 60 mn netusers in India being in age group of 18 to 35 years, educationalrelated search queries are exploding on Google. Internet today is the biggest catchment area for the youth” —Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director, Google India

“Students, interested in financial marketing, can advance from the basics to a higher level through e-learning. After completing their courses, they can seek employment in investment, risk, market advisory and consultancy roles”

— U Venkataraman, Executive Director, MCX Stock Exchange

“We are going progressing from what was before through the MOOC and there will be something else to look at in the future. The idea is to take control of your own learning by creating a network of interactivity”

— Stephen Downes, Researcher, NRC

September 2012  EduTech



MJ Xavier

Education to Become Truly Priceless


op newspapers could not become top TV news channels. Top news channels are not there on top social media sites. The same is sure to happen in education with the increasing popularity of the online platform. Top universities of today are not likely to be the top online education providers. I call it the Googlisation of education.

After Harvard ( and MIT (, a group of four universities (Stanford, Princeton, Pennsylvania and Michigan), under a new banner, Coursera, is now offering a wide array of courses, for free ( courses). One of the famous Stanford professors, Sebastian Thrun, had earlier offered a course on Artificial intelligence, enrolling a record 2,00,000 students. Now he is independently offering a variety of courses on computer science, ( There is some very good material online on Khan Academy ( There is currently a very good course on machine learning—Learning from Data at Caltech at with free take-home-assignments and exams.


EduTech  September 2012

Online learning gives millions of students access to the world’s best teachers. Thousands of students have taken accounting classes from Norman Nemrow of Brigham Young University, robotics classes from Sebastian Thrun of Stanford and physics from Walter Lewin of MIT. What’s new is that they are giving it a more organised form with the use of LMS (Learning Management Systems) and e-learning tools. If you are willing to pay for these courses they will give a degree as well. Most people think that it is great for anyone to have access to great courses and good professors. Consequently, priceless education is truly becoming price-less (free).

Impact on India According to David Brooks (, online learning could extend the influence of US universities around the world. India alone hopes to build tens of thousands colleges over the next decade. Curricula from the US schools could permeate those institutions. As such, we are using American textbooks and case studies in Indian institutions. If courses by star professors of the US universities are available for free on the web, why would an Indian student

MJ Xavier

want to listen to someone who reads and vomits from American books? Are we headed in the direction of magazines and newspapers? At the drop of a hat, we raise fees. How long will Indian students tolerate the rising fees for quality education? Once quality education becomes available on the web, students may not patronise institutions of higher learning in India. Once these online courses get recognised by corporate India, will the the mad rush for quality institutions such as IIMs and IITs be reduced? Already questions are being raised about the quality of teachers in higher learning institutions in India.

Rigour of Online Education There are several questions that haunt the minds of the students and the educators alike. Will academic standards be as rigorous online? How are they going to blend online information with faceto-face discussions, tutoring, debate, coaching, writing and projects? Online education has come a long way from the time Phoenix University in the US started online education in 1987. The technologies have changed and so have delivery methods. The costs have come down too. Distance learning started with sending selflearning books and materials directly to the students. Students were expected to read on their own and appear in examinations. Later the same reading materials became available as soft copies sent through email. Over a period of time, recorded lessons in CDs, known as CBTs (Computerb a s e d Tr a i n i n g ) s t a r t e d b e i n g u s e d . It offered several advantages over traditional classroom learning methods and self-taught books. Typically, CBTs contain text and graphics, animation, audio and video. Navigating across lessons and revisions were a lot easier. The tests in CBTs could be timed making it almost real. Then came WBT (Web-based Training) which was basically a subset of CBTs where material was made accessible on the internet by applying web technologies. WBT is also referred to as ‘online courses’ and ‘Web-based instruction’. In the above methods, content gets pushed to the students and is not interactive. To overcome this, early innovators introduced online text chats with professors who authored the lessons. What revolutionised online education is the arrival of web conferencing solutions. This allowed for interaction between the professor and students. Though it technically allows for two way


“The problem is that online education is considered as an inferior cousin of traditional education. Online education provides a back door entry for those who cannot make it to leading institutions through competitive examinations” video and audio transfers, there are limitations in the number of students who can simultaneously interact with the teacher. In any case, the teacher can take only one question at a time. As the technology grows in sophistication, more and more universities will jump onto the online bandwagon. In India, Indira Gandhi Open University was set up to offer education in a distance mode. Several universities, such as Annamalai University, and Sikkim Manipal University jumped into the fray and made a lot of money. On seeing the success of these universities, most other universities have also started offering programmes through the distance mode. Even top B-schools like IIM Calcutta, IIM Kozhikode, XLRI Jamshepur and several others offer programmes in the distance mode. The problem is that online education is considered as an inferior cousin of traditional education. Online education provides a back door entry for those who cannot make it to leading institutions through competitive examinations. Also there are concerns on how to impart morals and values through online education. Training for soft skills can still be done better through traditional learning. Despite these shortcomings, online education keeps growing in size day by day.

Changing Face of Education The rise in the popularity of online education is due to many factors, such as: a. The rising cost of higher education coupled September 2012  EduTech



Author’s BIO Dr MJ Xavier, Director of the IIM Ranchi, has more than 25 years of professional experience in teaching, research, and consultancy. His areas of interest include Marketing Research, Data Mining, e-Governance and he has authored three books and published more than 100 articles in journals and magazines in India and abroad


MJ Xavier

Guru-centric Education

agement solutions, e-learning platforms), hardware suppliers (cameras, smart boards, audio equipment, servers, cloud owners), e-book suppliers, sellers of educational aids (laptop computers, e-booksellers and stationary sellers), study centre operators and broadband suppliers. Even today, more than 40 per cent of the fees at leading institutions are shared with those supplying the e-learning infrastructure and the study centre operators. This is just the beginning. As the ecosystem matures, there will be several people offering their platforms free of cost for the teachers to host their courses. The revenue models too will take a new turn. Education will truly become guru-centric with the popular courses that get maximum hits attracting many advertisers who sell learning aids and related products online. The best teachers will be able to reach maximum number of students across the world. The ad revenues will get shared between the platform provider and the teachers who author the lessons. The priceless education will then, truly become priceless.

To deliver education online several people have to come together: teachers, content creators, software suppliers (assessment tools, learning man-

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with high demand is forcing many aspirants to join online courses. b. The shortage of good teachers is resulting in deterioration of quality in higher education. The gap between traditional and online education is getting narrowed. c. With the advancement in technology, online education is expected to become as good as traditional classroom education. Online education is not an extension of traditional education. It is a new paradigm. It is almost like the tectonic shifts that we are witnessing in the field of mass media; like newspaper to television to social media. The best newspapers failed to gain visibility on TV news channels and the popular TV channels could not manage to grab eyeballs on the online space. The producers and consumers are the same in social media sites. News has completely become free due to the ecosystem that creates and consumes news in social media.

EduTech  September 2012



Why Location Matters


s India goes about setting up new universities and colleges across the country, location has become a key problem especially for public institutions—for reasons other than politics. From issues of connectivity, slow pace of infrastructure development, students’ reluctance, faculty crunch to a plethora of other reasons, India must pause and contemplate its choice of venues before it goes about setting up universities in remote areas. For three years, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar bickered over the location of Bihar’s central university. Sibal’s preference was for Gaya while Kumar wanted the university at Motihari in north Bihar. Sibal’s reasoning was that Gaya is a more accessible city with better infrastructure and therefore better suited for a central university. For Kumar, since Gaya is already home to Magadh University, it was more appropriate to build the new university in Motihari.

At least some of the disagreement was political in nature and was eventually settled earlier in June when Sibal agreed to set up two central universities, in Gaya and Motihari respectively. This compromise left an important question unanswered: Who was right about the location of the new university? Is it preferable to locate universities in or around larger urban centres or in smaller towns or even rural areas with the expectation that they will become the engines of local development? Did Sibal’s insistence on Gaya fit with his government’s choice of locating the upcoming Nalanda International University at Rajgir which is quite far from and poorly connected to the any large city? Location can be all that matters for a successful or less successful university in terms of its broad appeal for students. All else being equal, a university located in or near a big city is likely to be favoured by prospective students over another in a small town. In modernising India, it is reasonable for the young and their parents to favour good education in combination with the amenities and pleasures of what urban India has on offer over the beauty of the countryside. Location September 2012  EduTech




“A university located in or near a big city is likely to be favoured by prospective students over another in a small town” also matters if India’s new institutions want to attract high-quality faculty who constitute the backbone of any institution. There is strong evidence that what separates the best institutions from the rest is the quality of its faculty.

Attracting Right Faculty In their book The Road to Academic Excellence, Philip Altbach and Jamil Salmi examined the efforts of 10 universities from around the world (including IIT Mumbai) to become high-quality institutions. Their general conclusion was that a lot of ingredients go into the making of a successful university—including resources, autonomy, leadership and good governance, vision and planning, ability to attract competitive students, luck and persistence—but the quality of faculty is crucial. The recruitment of high-quality faculty, they argue, induces a virtuous cycle so that such institutions attract the brightest and the best students and other good things follow. The book tells the story of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) which, after its birth in 1991, took just over two decades to become one of the top-ranked universities in the world. This has happened in India too, though in the private sector. The Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, made it to the list of top 20 business schools in a decade or so. If we agree that the quality of faculty is crucial to an institution’s appeal among students as well as to the building of superior institutions, the obvious question is how to recruit them. Leaving aside more obvious factors such as money, India’s institutions are at a tremendous disadvantage in their search for faculty. Two of these have to do with supply and competition. It is widely acknowledged that there is a shortage of qualified faculty in India. Different numbers are in circulation but shortages are said to


EduTech  September 2012

range from 20 to 40 per cent. A recent estimate put the deficit at around 20-25 per cent for the IITs and the IIMs but the numbers are certainly higher at the new ones in less preferred locations. The shortage is more serious than it seems for those institutions—especially brand institutions like the IITs and the IIMs—that aim to rise above the rest and count as world class. India’s institutions must compete for faculty at two levels within the constraints of poor supply. First, public institutions have to compete domestically with the many new private universities. Second, they must contend with the more globalised competition for faculty, especially those trained at Western institutions. One of the newer developments in India is the growth of respectable private institutions. This has given qualified faculty more choices than ever before. Lesser located IITs and IIMs are reported to be losing out in their search for young faculty to better paying private institutions located in or around India’s metros. Location especially matters in countries like India because of the immense differences in the level of development and quality of life across states and between the largest cities and smaller urban centres. It is unlikely that the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, would be able to attract world-class faculty if it was located in Bareilly or Bhagalpur. Most states have poor infrastructure, especially outside the larger cities but often within them as well. With the possible exception of the NCR, the pace at which infrastructural improvements are taking place in Indian cities, as anyone from Bengaluru, Mumbai or Patna will tell you, is painfully slow. At the same time, it is necessary to build some new institutions in less-than-ideal locations. In China, most public universities are located in the largest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai or in provincial capitals which puts them in a good position to attract qualified faculty. However, Lan Xue, the Dean of the School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University—which figures in the world’s top 50 universities—recently expressed concern that smaller cities may be missing out on the benefits of development because they lack good educational institutions. In contrast, the Indian government has set up many new institutions at distant locations. The problem is that even the brand institutions are coming up at a typically Indian pace and the development of local infrastructure, including good connectivity to larger cities, will be even


slower. Therefore, it may be a few years before these new institutions will become more appealing to faculty or students than similar schools located in Pune or Mohali. If the goal is not simply to build new institutions but also those which can go on to become worldclass centres for teaching and research, the battle is nearly lost unless corrective measures are taken quickly. Otherwise, many of India’s new institutions will simply become places which young Indians will attend when other options don’t exist and exit as quickly as they can, contributing little to local development.

Tough Competition India’s new institutions also have to compete for faculty—especially for Indians with degrees from Western universities—with Western institutions as well as other new institutions that are coming up in Asia and the Middle East. Many Western universities already have campuses in non-Western locations. New York University has recently set up a branch in Abu Dhabi. Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have set up the Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Similarly,

Qatar is building and consolidating higher education institutions. Other than salaries, the biggest difference between such non-Western locations and India is their significantly superior infrastructure and the better quality of life afforded by the routine availability of public goods—whether water, electricity, transport or general cleanliness. It would be asking for a miracle for India to enable easy access to basic public goods when even the metros afford them only in gated communities and at relatively high costs. What India can do in the face of the challenges posed by competition is choose the location of new institutions more carefully and/or build local infrastructure at a better pace. If the goal is to build world-class institutions, they must be located in or around larger cities. If the goal is more modest – that of building institutions in neglected parts of the country for building access to quality education or to spur local development—it is still necessary to do better in developing suitable infrastructure. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at


Author’s BIO Pushkar has a PhD in political science (McGill University) and previously taught at the University of Goa, Concordia University, McGill University and the University of Ottawa. His blogs on higher education in India have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education

September 2012  EduTech


Inventi advertorial

Innovativeness: A must-have for Indian HEIs Dr VB Gupta, Director, BRNCP TIFAC Centre of relevance and excellence, Mandsaur on his recent participation at a Stockholm event on industry academia collaboration

Can you tell us more about the your experience at the event? The invitation to this event came to me as one of the biggest surprises I ever had. The organizers had identified 40 persons from around the world and just 1 from India., They particularly appreciated my work on Academia-Industry linkage which included a DST funded study and database, TIFAC-CORE and my very unique model of collaborating with the industry My co-speakers included the likes of John Sulston (2005 Medicine Nobel) and Dr Yamazaki (President SEL, Japan & Guinness Record Holder for Patenting – holds over 7000 US and Japanese patents).

How do you see the Indian prospects in innovation? Sadly, we are bad and getting worse. On the Global Innovation Index we rank 62nd and in the last one year we have slipped 6 ranks. On the other hand, China rose 14 steps in 2011 to the 29th position. It is due to lack of innovativeness that none of our universities figure in top 100 of the world. Another issue is our abysmally poor patenting culture. In 2011 while 400 thousand patents were filed in China, we filed less


EduTech  September 2012

than 40 thousand. However, India does have tremendous potential to emerge as a global innovation hotspot.

Where does the problem lie? Dr Gupta: The biggest problem lies in our attitude and education system. We are extremely risk-averse and this fear of failureprevents us from being innovative. Our education system was primarily designed to create clerks and we are still carrying forward the same instruction and examination centric system.. . This existing system can never create enterprising minds.. This prevailing lopsided structure can be deduced from the funding pattern as well. While any good institution should drive significant fund from knowledge-commercialisation, a true measure of the innovativeness, our institutions mostly drive their revenue either from tuition (self-financed) or grants (government funded).

According to you what needs to be done to fix this problem? There are two sets of things that could effectively boosts innovativeness in our country – 1: Creation of an innovation

ecosystem, and 2: Educational reforms. If we could create an ecosystem of hand-holding innovators from idea generation, research and development, financing and mentoring to the final step of commercialisation the pace of advancement would be much greater.. However, because of the massive privatisation in the education sector, it can move on its own without having to depend on the Government

What is the single-pointschema that you would to suggest to the institutions to trigger innovativeness in their campuses? Innovativeness can be triggered in any institution without allocating big amounts of mon-

ies! If I were to identify one trigger it would be massive exposure to patents. Patents, which are tools for protecting innovations, are also, a wonderful source of information. Unfortunately, in India, students and teachers do not rely as much on patents for their information as they do on books and journals HEIs in India need to aggressively expose their faculty and students to patents. This would help the faculty and the students develop a taste for the intellectual property and out-of-the-box-thinking. (Dr VB Gupta participated in the event ‘How do Scientists, Companies and Society gets the best out of Collaboration between Universities and Industries?’ at Stockholm

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September 2012 EduTech



Murali Manickam

Principal, Presidency College, Chennai


EduTech  September 2012


Story Name

cover story

k a e r B

e e r F

PB Sharma

Vice Chancellor, Delhi Technological University

Autonomous colleges stand out from the crowd for daring to carve out their own path. Affiliated to a university, they break away from the stranglehold of their parent in search of freedom and commitment to quality. By doing so, they raise the bar by setting new benchmarks for others to follow. The autonomous status is the badge that distinguishes a college from being one-amongmany to one-of-a-kind By charu bahri Design by raj verma

September 2012  EduTech


cover story



he Indian university system, started with the establishment of the universities of Mumbai, Madras and Calcutta in 1857. It is akin to the solar system model, wherein a central sun, read university, shines upon many surrounding planets, that is, affiliated colleges. The university takes on the mantle of guide, supervisor and impartial external examining body, and award degrees on behalf of its few constituent colleges. Arguably, this simpler format would have been seen as easier to adopt for the country at the dawn of the age of modern higher education, when the more pressing issue was to create higher education infrastructure to prepare Indians to take up civil administrative posts and become doctors and lawyers. The affiliation system also furthers the goals of higher education in India—to be accessible to the masses and to adhere to prescribed minimum quality standards. “Contrary to creating islands of excellence for an elite group of people, the affiliation system focusses on the larger picture, on maintaining minimum standards for the maximum number of people,” observes Nandita Narain, Head & Associate Professor, Mathematics, St. Stephen’s College.

Drawbacks of Affiliation Affiliation is essentially an inclusive approach to higher education in practice. Clearly, this has undisputed benefits for a country like India. But it also has drawbacks. Homogenising colleges, that is, clubbing together all the affiliated institutes of a university disregards the inherent strengths of the leaders and the weaknesses of the laggards. This adversely affects the development of the best colleges, the older, established colleges having the potential to raise education standards beyond the prescribed minimum standard for affiliated col-


EduTech  September 2012

leges. Affiliation is thus stifling for colleges with ambition. It precludes them from modernising the curricula as they deem fit; establishing innovative assessment systems; starting courses without taking umpteen permissions; renaming, restructuring and redesigning courses; and so on. Affiliation also fails to promote the best education pedagogy—as is evident from the adverse feedback Indian higher education has been drawing from the industry and from its direct beneficiaries. Industry criticism revolves around the system not measuring up in producing employment-ready graduates. Here, rote learning is at fault, yet it is the mainstay of the affiliation methodology entailing the adoption of a preset curriculum and evaluating learning by knowledge regurgitation. Looking back to the global dawn of higher education, rote learning became popular as an undemanding academic pedagogy fit for preparing individuals for standardised jobs like civil administration, medicine, and law. Then and now, this method would fall short in providing students a holistic understanding of the world around and the faculties to think, question, criticise, and analyse—vital skills in today’s complex business arena. The development of such faculties mandates true academic freedom in the collegiate model sense, wherein knowledge is taught for the sake of knowledge and its application to solve social challenges (research) and for the stimulation of productive thinking.

Autonomy = Academic Freedom As far back as 1966, the Education Commission saw autonomy as the way forward, to steer Indian higher education in the right direction. It recommended college autonomy as an instrument for


allowing teachers to exercise academic freedom, which in turn would develop the intellectual climate in the country. Autonomy truly recognises that teachers (and managements and students) are co-partners in raising the quality of higher education and puts on them the onus of doing so. Recogising autonomous colleges as a desirable addition to the higher education structure, the National Policy on Education (1986-92) formulated objectives outlining the freedom that would be granted to autonomous colleges. Such colleges could frame their courses of study and syllabi; establish admission rules in keeping with the reservation policy of the state government; evolve methods of assessment of students performance, conduct of examinations and notification of results; use technology tools to achieve higher standards and greater creativity in delivering education; and promote healthy practices such as community service, extension activities, projects for the benefit of the society at large, neighbourhood programmes, etc. In the Indian academic frame, autonomy is thus synonymous with academic freedom, the means to produce industry-ready manpower and individuals prepared to take on meaningful roles in society. Harcourt Butler Technological Institute (HBTI), Kanpur, a long-time autonomous college under the Gautam Buddha Technical University, is among the country’s premier institutes that offer specialist chemical technology. Professor JSP Rai, Director, HBTI, says autonomy has made possible its job-oriented curricula and deep ties with industry.

Opting for Autonomy Gaining academic freedom is the over-riding reason why colleges in India are seeking the autonomous status. Principal of the recently made autonomous KJ Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce, Dr Sudha Vyas, says, “We applied for autonomy because we wanted to provide our student with a broader understanding of subjects and thereby, with greater opportunities. Autonomy allows us to design a syllabus that focuses on academics as well as on experiential learning and to tailor it with industry requirements and standards. In bridging the gap between what organisations expect from their employees and what is being taught in colleges, we would thus give our students an advantage when they enter the employment market. Autonomy also allows us

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the freedom to set up accurate assessment standards to test the knowledge and aptitude students assimilate over the academic year.” Autonomy was seen as the next logical step in the evolution of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, which was granted autonomy in 2010. Principal Dr Frazer Mascarenhas SJ explains, “We felt that we had already reached the height of quality in higher education in the non-autonomous affiliated system and since the autonomous system had borne much fruit in colleges in the south for about 30 years, we felt that it would be good to seek such academic freedom. We were also encouraged by many alumni and others who felt that we owed it to Indian academia to make this transition. In 2006, the NAAC committee recommended that we apply for autonomy as well.”

ing t a e r c to y or r f a r e t c n n o e l “C cel x n e o i f t o a i s l d fi n .af . . isla p u he o t r g n e o t i l s sse an e u c o f systempicture...” larger ege

arain n’s Coll Nandita N ematics, St Stephe th

Head, Ma

September 2012  EduTech


cover story


The change in status means that St Xavier’s is now free to adopt the Bloom’s Taxonomy and other such pedagogical practices that encourage critical thinking and application, and also to introduce a more authentic assessment system. When it applied for autonomy, the prevailing evaluation system of the University of Mumbai encouraged rote learning, as the degree was based on one set of exams conducted at the end of the three year course. The university has since shifted to the Continuous Internal Assessment and Credit System but Dr Mascarenhas is looking to take St Xavier’s a step ahead: “Assessment should not only be continuous but should also reflect the teaching-learning in the classroom with the particular group of students and teachers. This is not easy in the nonautonomous system where there is one exam for all the colleges in the university.”

Positive Results


Autonomy could be a godsend for the Indian higher education system that is floundering amid accusations of failing to meet market needs. It allows colleges to train students to think beyond books and encourage experimentation with new ideas. Conferring the autonomy status on a greater number of colleges would reduce the workload of universities since autonomous colleges execute themselves of many of the functions that the university hitherto performed. In fact, the questionable fall in university standards with the unprecedented expansion of colleges is another drawback of the affiliation system that autonomy could possibly stem. When affiliation came into being, the education sector was confined. Each university had precious few colleges to nurture and monitor. Consider the University of Delhi as an example. It had merely three affiliated colleges when it was established in 1922–St Stephens College founded in 1881, Hindu College founded in 1899 and Ramjas College founded in 1917. Today, 25 colleges are affiliated to the University’s South Campus while another 40 are to the North Campus. If colleges offering professional courses are included as well, the number of affiliated institutes goes up to 77. The administrative and financial maintenance of these colleges is split between the university, governing trusts and the Delhi Government. The situation pan-India has changed drastically since the expansion of higher education facilities hit top gear. The number of colleges has soared

colleges are affiliated to Delhi University’s South Campus while another


are affiliated to the North Campus


EduTech  September 2012

PB Sharma

Vice Chancellor, DTU

g n i Takthe eap L


cover story

The pinnacle of evolution for a college is its transformation into a university. Is autonomy the first step towards this aim? Professor PB Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Delhi Technological University (DTU), tells EDU why autonomy matters


he concept of autonomous colleges must be encouraged. Autonomy holds the key for excellence in education and research and for industry relevant innovations. Autonomous colleges are conferred the vital freedom to excel with the prescribed legislative structure providing sufficient checks and balances to ensure accountability and align the framework of autonomy for excellence, relevance and social responsibility. The need for autonomy arises from the fact that affiliating universities in India are fat (large), both in terms of the large number of affiliated colleges and their own multi-faculties. Also, it is an open secret that large affiliating universities in the country are riddled with campus politics and hyperactive teacher and staff associations. The university administration remains engaged in fire-fighting and has little or no time for educational innovations for the promotion of quality, relevance and excellence. Not surprisingly, such universities exhibit a lack of focused attention on professional education and world quality research in areas of high relevance to the country. So, contrary to being averse to making select colleges autonomous, the parent university should go all out to promote the concept as autonomous colleges become a source of pride for it, for the innovations they bring in educational programmes,

examination reforms and for promoting research and innovations in thrust areas. If the college goes on to seed a university, what greater honour could there be for the parent university? The Government of Delhi granted DCE, an affiliated college of Delhi University, university status through the Delhi Act 6 of 2009. Since then, DTU has made good progress, launching new undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in emerging industry-relevant areas of engineering and technology—such as nano-science and technology, VLSI design & embedded systems, microwave and optical communication, etc. It has also introduced innovations in programme curricula. Student placements are progressing well, new faculty has been taken on, the campus has been made eco-friendly, the industry interface has been strengthened and collaborations for R&D have been entered into with leading R&D organisations and world-class universities in Indian and abroad. Student creativity and engagement in cutting edge research is at an all time high. India’s first solar car designed and developed by DTU students, Solaris, participated in the World Solar Challenge 2011 in Australia. DTU’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has earned a pride place among top three in a global competition organised by AUVSI at Maryland, USA in June 2012. The next milestone is to compete at the university level, to transform DTU into a world class university.

September 2012  EduTech


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ws o l l a y om n o t u A “ na g i s s e e s d s o u t c s o u tf a h t s l u syllab demics as wel on aca riential as expeg...” learnin merce

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a of Arts as Sudha Vy Somaiya College cipal, KJ


from 5748 in 1990 to 25951 in 2010. This almost fivefold increase in colleges has not been complemented with a similar rise in the number of universities–184 to 527 for the corresponding period– and thus, has rendered the affiliation system unwieldy. Keeping tabs on and fulfilling the varied needs of the ever-growing number of affiliated colleges is one of the biggest challenges universities are facing today. “Thus, autonomy could be one solution to the burden of overworked universities,” agrees Rekha Bahadur, Vice Principal, HR College of Commerce and Economics, albeit with a caveat. “Autonomous institutions must maintain high quality in delivery, which could be enforced by a central body through rankings.” Then, the University Grants Commission (UGC) position expounded in the Xth Plan profile of higher education in India, stating that “the only safe and better way to improve the quality of undergraduate education is to de-link most of the colleges from the affiliating structure” seems the best way forward. It would somewhat reconfigure the federal structure of the university without a major revamp of the higher education system. Colleges would continue to receive financial support from the university; this in turn would boost the concept of autonomy.

Letting Go During the Xth Plan, the UGC proposed to increase the number of autonomous colleges to 10 per cent of eligible colleges, that is, all colleges falling under Section 2(f ) and Section 12(B) of the


EduTech  September 2012

UGC Act, regulations providing for the recognition of colleges and for making colleges eligible for central assistance from the Government of India or from any organisation receiving funds from the Central Government respectively. Selffinancing colleges that have existed for at least 10 years can also apply for autonomy although conferment of autonomy does not entitle them to autonomy grants. Achieving this vision would depend to a large extent on the willingness of parent universities to foster the concept of autonomy and accept a substantially changed relationship with autonomous colleges. A parent university is bound to accept the methodologies of teaching, examination, evaluation and the course curriculum of its autonomous colleges. It is also mandated to assist colleges in developing their academic programmes, improving faculty and by providing necessary guidance by participating in the deliberations of the different bodies of the colleges. From the look of things, however, some universities are finding it hard to let go of their prized constituents. Delhi University (DU), for instance, has been steadfastly rejecting the concept claiming that it aims to make institutions more self-sufficient by increasing their resources. Proposals to make DU’s top colleges autonomous have met with stiff resistance from the university. It may have lost Delhi College of Engineering (see box) but it has no plans to let go the likes of St. Stephen’s College, Hindu College, LSR College etc. The DU perspective counters the mandate set out

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for universities, in particular, to bring more autonomous colleges under its fold and to do everything possible to foster the spirit of autonomy. Along the spectrum are also universities and state governments that have let go but which are finding it hard to completely adhere to the vision of operational freedom for autonomous colleges. UGC provisions require the university to review the management structure of applicant colleges prior to conferring autonomy on them to make sure that it is participatory and provides ample opportunities for academicians to make a creative contribution. The stipulations also outline the composition and functions of the Governing Body, Academic Council, Board of Studies and Finance Committee and list the other committees that an autonomous college should create for the proper management of its academic, financial and administrative affairs. Ample UGC specifications on the one hand and greater faculty and student participation on the other hand are expected to improve the governance of autonomous colleges vis-à-vis affiliated colleges. “Teachers and students own the system much more than in affiliated colleges – this makes for better governance. Student representatives in the Boards of Study also have a say and therefore can play an important part in decisionmaking by providing feedback from the student perspective,” opines Dr Mascarenhas.

university also retains the right to make demands on faculty for university administration work.” Concurring with this, Professor Murali Manickam, Principal, Presidency College, Chennai, an autonomous college adds, “A university may have a few hundred colleges affiliated to it. As a result, the university becomes more of an examination conducting body than an educational institution. The teaching faculty is pressed into service as camp officers for the central valuation—their precious time is wasted in this administrative work which sometimes extends to say 10 to 15 days per semester.” The transfer of teachers in government autonomous colleges is another sticky area. UGC provisions clearly state that the state government will avoid, as far as possible, the transfer of teachers, especially in colleges where academic innovation and reforms are in progress, except for need-based

Flip Side But it isn’t smooth sailing for every autonomous college. “Government interference in administration is a bane of autonomous colleges in the public sector,” claims Professor Rai of HBTI. While UGC provisions clearly permit the parent university to depute nominees to serve in various committees of the autonomous college for better monitoring and the state government to depute nominees to the governing body of a government autonomous college, Professor Rai laments “the appointment of individuals without the proper background or experience as Board members.” But he is hopeful that the situation will improve after a decision was taken last October to allow only eminent educationists to form the governing Boards of autonomous colleges. That said, autonomous colleges continue to face other challenges. Autonomous colleges are still dependent on the university and on the state for funding, leading Professor Rai to realistically observe, “Autonomy allows improvisations to the curricula although the paucity of finance may still constrain a college from making all the reforms in academics and assessment that it would like to introduce. The

be d l u o c my o n o he t t u o t “A n o ti d e u l k o r s o e w on ver o f o n burde ities” univers omics

Econ hadur llege of Commerce & a B a h k e R o ipal, HR C Vice Princ

September 2012  EduTech


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g n i s i a R the ar B Professor Murali Manickam, Principal, Presidency College, Chennai, an autonomous college, tells EDU why its autonomous status has proven to be good and not only for Presidency College


utonomy as a concept for colleges is vital for India. Autonomy allows indigenous skills and brains to be put to use. Affiliated colleges suffer from being mandated to toe the line of some person sitting miles away, who usually lacks a clear understanding of localised needs. Why should the Academic Council and the Board of Studies of the concerned University based in a city, decide what students in the smaller towns of the region/state will learn? The native situation must reflect in the education syllabi and this is only possible with autonomy. Centralising these aspects of education ignores local resources and requirements. The need of the hour is for the higher education sector to respond rapidly to industry and society. Swift change calls for a measure of freedom that comes with autonomy. University dependence precludes a college from introducing innovations in terms of syllabi design. College professors have neither the space nor the authority to realise their ideas for the betterment of the education programme. In taking the lead in introducing innovative methods, autonomous colleges essentially give

competition to the university in every aspect of academics and examination systems. In time, the university has to live up to these changes. Thus, the autonomous colleges raise the bar for education across affiliated colleges. Other but no less important issues are also better addressed with autonomy. Student rights are best protected in autonomous colleges since grievances can be swiftly addressed and sorted out. Also, autonomous colleges can encourage faculty to take up research and directly approach research organisations such as the DRDO, DST and so on for grants. It is not as though autonomous colleges become a law unto themselves. We are mandated to follow the University-prescribed norms. For instance the University of Madras outlined 11 mark-sheet security features last year and ordered autonomous colleges to follow at least 5 of these. We have introduced six of these new security features in our examination system to make the process more authentic. These measures covered the system of selecting examiners, the print quality of the question paper, incorporating photo impression on the mark-sheet etc. Murali Manickam

Principal, Presidency College, Chennai


EduTech  September 2012


cover story

transfers. Yet Professor Manickam notes, “Faculty continuity is the biggest challenge facing an autonomous college in the government sector. The possibility of faculty being transferred at government will makes it difficult to put down names for research projects, which mandate stability. The research project lead must continue in the office for at least the duration of the project to get the desired results.”

Ongoing Evaluation The autonomous college status can by no means be equated with a cushy position that bequeaths privileges on the holder. Certainly, autonomous colleges gain certain freedoms and rights. But autonomy is also a huge ongoing responsibility. That the status is not permanent only strengthens this argument. Autonomy is initially granted for a period of six years at the end of which the UGC reviews the performance of the college. Standards must be maintained to earn a renewal—this keeps an autonomous college on its toes. Also, an autonomous college must get itself accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council within a period of two years from the date of conferment/extension of the status. The university also reviews the new courses of an autonomous college for evidence of a decline in standards or quality, which may require the course to be modified or in the worse case, cancelled. And regulations mandate each autonomous college to formulate an appropriate mechanism to conduct annual self-evaluations to gauge its academic performance and the degree of success in the utilisation of autonomy. Teacher evaluation methods in autonomous colleges could include periodical selfevaluation, institutional assessment, student feedback, research appraisal and other suitable forms. For these reasons, Dr OG Kakde, Director, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai, which has been autonomous since 2004, describes autonomy as a dual-edged feature: “Whereas autonomy confers more authority on the college management as well as the teachers, it also imposes more responsibility on them to make good. Breaking away from the homogenous mould of the university means taking the reins of education design, delivery and assessment in ones hands. The changeover of status from affiliated to autonomous calls for a change in mindset and much preparation of the faculty, departments, institution, and students for the task ahead. Autonomy

During the Xth Plan, the UGC proposed to increase the number of autonomous colleges to


of eligible colleges

September 2012  EduTech


cover story


em t s y s s ou m it o u n r f o t h u c “A mu h e t n u r o o s b e th had n i s elt f e g e e l W l . o s in c ut 30 year eek for abo be good to s om. it would ademic freed such ac , NAAC too In 2006 ended it” recommJ has S mbai u Mascaren Dr Frazer St Xavier’s College, M Principal,

grants a college the flexibility to structure and restructure its courses in keeping with the needs of society and the industry. However, gaining the ability to make the best use of this flexibility for value addition doesn’t happen overnight. Teachers especially must be prepared because their workload increases after the grant of autonomy—in terms of syllabi design, continuous student assessments and the responsibility for conducting examinations.”

Declining Autonomy In other words, the conferment of the autonomous


EduTech  September 2012

status comes with a mantle of responsibility. Is this the reason why some colleges that undoubtedly constitute the crème de la crème prefer to remain part of the larger system? HR College of Commerce and Economics was granted autonomy in 2007 from the UGC, making it the first college to have achieved the status in the University of Mumbai’s 150 year history. The college chose to turn down autonomy. Vice Principal Professor Rekha Bahadur explains why: “Because the Maharashtra rules are different from the UGC rules for autonomy so we are waiting for the state to adopt the UGC’s new rules for autonomy.” She does not believe that this move has adversely impacted HR College of Commerce and Economics because it has still introduced innovations within the university prescribed curriculum. As much as proposals to make St. Stephen’s College autonomous have been floated, Dr Karen Gabriel, Media Coordinator & Associate Professor, Department of English, St Stephen’s College, affirms that St Stephens is not contemplating autonomy at this point in time. Elucidating the pluses of being part of a larger academic setup vis-à-vis becoming an autonomous college, Professor Narain of St Stephen’s College says, “Being part of a larger system provides affiliated colleges an academic audit of sorts. Student assessment on a broader anonymous platform gives a college an idea of its relevant standing in the university. This isn’t possible in an isolated college. Also, interacting with teachers from other affiliated colleges provides faculty with a healthy learning experience. Coming together perforce to exchange ideas to frame syllabi and evaluate exam scripts constitutes a very real way of interacting that is different from meeting other faculty at academic seminars. The federal structure of the university ensures that we participate together at all levels. Of course, there is the issue of the university catering to diverse standards of students and hence setting the standard to suit the lowest common denominator. Rote-learning has also drawn flak. To a certain extent, a system of compulsory internal assessments introduced in 2004 is making up for that and bringing out the strengths of individual college faculties in setting creative question papers.” Bearing in mind the expectations for the Indian higher education system to deliver quality education to the maximum number of beneficiaries, Dr Narain reiterates her earlier position, “Being part of the larger system is an opportunity to pull up standards”. The affiliation concept unifies socially


diverse entities whereas the autonomous concept accentuates disparities and promotes a sense of alienation from the mainstream.” And from the standpoint of governance, she adds, “Autonomous colleges face the danger of becoming fiefdoms, where the management is all in all and teachers lose their autonomy.”

Big Picture At the end of the day, the concept of autonomous colleges is a matter of perspective. Colleges opting for autonomy believe that it has never made greater sense than now, in the face of a raging debate about the quality of higher education. Contrary to seeing the autonomous status as a privilege to race ahead of the larger system, Dr Vyas says autonomous colleges get the best of both worlds —“As an autonomous college, we are abiding by all the rules and regulations laid down by relevant authorities like the government, Mumbai University, UGCA, AICE etc. It is not as though we completely break free from the University. On the other hand, the status gives us due recognition for our worth—the student’s convocation certificate would carry both the Mumbai University and the KJ Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce seal. Moreover, we remain free to revise the syllabus as per industry demands, jointly by educationists

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and industry experts, to devise our own assessment method and to make quick decisions.” To the contention that autonomy creates islands of excellence, Dr Mascarenhas says the effect of autonomous colleges, as lead colleges, on other colleges affiliated to the same university should be acknowledged. Certainly, the top 10 per cent of colleges in each university on the basis of student results, having already proven their mettle and possessing the experience of running good institutions, should bear the responsibility of pioneering the way ahead for other colleges. The decision to apply for autonomy essentially remains an outcome of a colleges’ stage of evolution and the role it sees for itself not merely in the larger system comprising the university but in the still larger context of the country as a whole. Autonomous colleges are helping the Indian higher education sector to come full circle; in introducing a more challenging method of higher learning. Higher education has taken a millennium to get where it is in Europe. India lacks the luxury of time to scale the learning curve. The will of autonomous colleges to take the road less travelled is helping get around that. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at

September 2012  EduTech



Institutional Excellence

Edu Survey | Institutional excellence

Achieving Institutional Excellence A peek into EDU survey result reveals some startling factors that the community of leaders in higher education consider important to deliver excellence in the field. Read on to find out what they think...

By raj verma

I 28

ndian higher education today boasts of more than 611 universities with over 1.5 crore students. This growth story in numbers has not been matched by quality despite efforts of the government and the private sector. Lack of infrastructure, funds, quality faculty and sometimes sheer indifference come in the way of pursuing and delivering excellence. However, these odds have not stopped pockets of excellence and stories of innovation from flourishing within our country. There are also lesson to be drawn from other countries with similar EduTech  September 2012

challenges and sectors besides education. It’s time to share the strategies and extend this experience for the collective growth of the sector. The odds unfortunately are not going to change overnight. Our strategies however can. Through the first Vice Chancellors’ retreat, EDU had taken the onus to get the decision-makers in this sector on a common platform to identify effective strategies to make the change. This year we hope to take another step in that direction by talking about how to overcome the hurdles that may come up in implementing our vision.

By the time this issue reaches you around 50 leaders in higher education would have met for EDU’s VCs’ retreat from August 31 to September 2 to talk about and work out a plan to overcome these hurdles. To form the basis of our discussions at the Retreat, EDU had conducted a survey on what constitutes Achieving Institutional Excellence. We got an overwhelming 400 responses from our readers. We bring to you a preview of the findings in this issue. In the next issue we will be covering the findings in detail along with the deliberations at the Vice Chancellors’ Retreat.

Institutional Excellence


Top administrators were the major respondents The group consisting of Vice Chancellors, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Principals and Directors formed 39 per cent of the respondents Group




Chancellor Vice Chancellor


Pro VC

Member, Governing Board




Director Vice Principal Deputy Director Dean Group


Deputy Dean Head of Department (HOD) Professor




South scores in the number of respondents

40% 13%

of the respondents to EDU survey were from the southern region East region scored the least with

respondents from that region September 2012  EduTech



Institutional Excellence

Edu Survey | institutional excellence

Fix faculty first, say India’s higher ed-leaders Overall Quality of Faculty came out as the most important factor followed by Curriculum and Pedagogy while Government Policy and Regulation were voted the least important Factors in Achieving Institutional Excellence Quality of Faculty

Curriculum and Pedagogy

Effective Institutional Management

Infrastructure and Technology

Availability of Funds Industry and Communityrelevant Activities Quality of Students

Alumni Relations

Collaboration and Partnering

Government Policy and Regulation


EduTech  September 2012

Importance Score

99% 93% 91% 88% 84% 84% 83% 82% 82% 79%


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Institutional Excellence


Edu Survey | institutional excellence

VEY R U S E TH M O R F portant S im T t s H o m G I nd INS ted seco d fourth a r s a w SOME ll it stoo hnology

era tec ure and t/CEOs while ov t c u e most r h t t s ’ a y lt n u e Infr c t Fa y Presid uality of d Pedagogy’ bu Q ‘ d factors b e t a an sr Director by ‘Curriculum portant , s C V . e i. im d Group 2 t factor followe hem as equally red the e id s n o t c n s importa rs rated both of culty’ wa Curriculum a F f o y o t e li profess ns, ‘Qua est region wher of Faculty in io g e r l a raphic r except for W er than Quality g o e g s s Acro nt facto d slightly high a t r o p most im gogy was rate he third d a t d d e e P t e o d c v n a an an as f import m but w oth engineering o t t o b e terms o h b around t titutes offering is s n io t ela y ins Alumni R ortant factor b portant p im t im s s t a e s le s o r u m e out the us types of ment co m e a g c a n n a io t m d vario egula n R a d s n n a io y g ent Polic roups, re d Governm d also across g ence an ll n e a c x ll e s a f r e o ut ove e models es. Among non he nal instit r io a t t a a c h u t d e ns et urit institutioIMs are the favo d BITS Pilani, ar n io t a c du an dI Higher e ulating: IITs an ISB Hyderabad , worth ement institutions governm ntioned ones e most m

September 2012  EduTech



Enase Okonedo

Enase Okonedo Current ENGAGEMENT: Dean Lagos Business School, Nigeria ACADEMICS: BSc, Accounting, MBA from IESE Business School Barcelona, PhD from International School of Management, Paris Other POSITIONS: Chairperson, Association of African Business Schools, Member Academic Advisory Board Global Business School Network


EduTech  September 2012

Enase Okonedo


One size fit all In Africa

does not

Enase Okonedo, Dean, Lagos Business School and Chairperson of Association of African Business Schools in conversation with EDU says that Africa is a continent and cannot be viewed as a country By smita polite

subhojit paul

EDU: What brings you to India? Enase Okonedo: I was here for the annual conference of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) to which the Lagos Business School belongs. It was a great opportunity to meet with people that are interested in India-Africa collaborations. Another reason was to organise a study trip to India for our Alumni to learn from the business practices in India. In the past, Lagos Business School Alumni always went to study trips at top western schools. Now the focus has shifted to Asia. This year we will go to China and Singapore. We are hoping that next year we will come to India. What relevance do associations like the GBSN have? The GBSN is a network of higher education institutions and Lagos Business School have been members since it started, I am on its academic advisory board. It fosters a network whereby schools can meet and look for ways to collaborate. The annual conference presents the platform for this to happen and I like the fact that the annual conference moves beyond the USA. GBSN is located in America, but over the years we have seen it holding September 2012  EduTech



Enase Okonedo

conferences in Africa, Mexico and other places. It presents an opportunity for other schools that do not come from that region to get to know it better. The GBSN also engages in other activities for instance it created an interesting campaign called MBA challenge where students were asked to work on a project with a social impact in the developing world and make a short video on it. You can imagine what an impact it would have had with b-schools all over the world thinking about what can be done to affect the lives of people. You are also the Chairperson of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS). What is the purpose of this association? The AABS was formed in 2005. Guy Pfeffermann, who encouraged the forming of this association, was the chief economist at the World Bank. Because of his wide travels he had seen that there


EduTech  September 2012

was a dearth of management capacity on the continent and he thought that something needed to be done about that. One of the ways to do this was to improve management education. One of our objectives is thus to build capacity in management education on the continent. We run various programmes in faculty development and one of the programmes that I find quite interesting is the dean study trips. In fact there is a group of deans of South African Business Schools that is in India right now. We also have a programme for business school professors called “teaching the practice of management”. A good business school professor needs to be not only scholarly with interest in publication but should also connect with industry. So we also encourage industry engagements. Most of the business schools in Africa exist within the university structure and thus are more theoretical than practical. Whereas what we need is practical

knowledge. So we have an annual workshop for B-school professors to encourage participant focused learning based on the case study method. This year we had an Indian national Srikant Datar, a professor at Harvard, who facilitated the workshop. Perhaps because of our common heritage, for Indian academics there is something about Africa that they feel they are actually helping their brothers. The passion and willingness to come and do things is there and that came through very clearly when Srikant was with us. As the chairperson what do you want the association to focus on? I am very concerned about the dearth of what I would say qualified managers. For a lot of multinationals based out of Africa inadequate infrastructure is a big problem. So when you speak to the CEOs of these companies you would expect them to speak to you of high operating costs brought about by lack of

Enase Okonedo

We have quite an ambitious dream to develop one million qualified managers across Africa over ten years

infrastructure. But no—nine times out of ten they will speak to you about people. They just can’t find the people. In large degrees we find that they rely on expatriates and repatriates—those who had gone overseas and have come back. The growth projections that are expected to come out of Africa are huge. There is this whole talk about economic growth indices and how we will equal Asia in some time. But who is going to actualise that growth if we have not started to develop the managers? This is my objective—to get the right people. The number of business school in Africa is dismal. We have a population of close to one billion and only about 80 business schools in the real sense of the word. So, AABS is now partnering with three other organisations: GBSN, The Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria and the Lundin foundation of Switzerland. Together we have formed the Africa Management Initiative which was

launched in Lagos in May. We have quite an ambitious dream to develop one million qualified managers across Africa over ten years, to help us drive this growth. We have even come up with a blueprint for setting up of business schools that we are willing to share with interested parties in areas that we consider important to be able to help them. What role are business schools playing in Africa? Business schools have a very important role to play in society and especially in Africa. I hope that African B-schools are conscious of this. A business school must focus firstly on being able to offer an education that is at a par with the best in the world. But the best practices that we learn about must be adapted to the peculiarities of our environment. We also need to develop in them attributes that are especially needed in the African environment. Attributes like leadership skills, a focus on integrity and ethical way of doing business is important in our context. Management education should be used as a tool to serve the society as much as to serve oneself. Do the role and challenges of business schools differ from country to country within Africa? Of course they do. It’s unfortunate that when people talk about Africa they tend to generalise. But it is not one country. And even within countries there are peculiarities across regions. A top business school could give you access to their curriculum if you seek help. But that is that sufficient? No. You will not add anything if you don’t contextualise the curriculum. In Africa one size does not fit all. The peculiarities of doing business in Nigeria are very different from that of Kenya and you have to keep that in mind when you decide what to focus on. Some schools want to focus on the mainstay of the economy in their location. Some others such as Lagos Business School for many years focused on the private sector. For various reasons we did not do anything in the public sector but then a couple of years ago I started to


think about how the private sector managers operate in a sphere that is determined and controlled by managers in the public sector. We realised that we will have to have some programmes specifically for the public sector. The needs of the public sector are very different from that of the private sector. That’s because in a space like Nigeria policies could change without recourse and without thinking through the entire chain. In other countries it may not be the same therefore for each country it is different and the courses have to be conceptualised based on the differences So there is a lot of demand for business education? Yes there is and I am glad to say that people have become more discerning about the quality of business education. There is no more just an interest in having that qualification but also in getting the knowledge. Therefore when people are seeking schools they use different criteria to determine where to go based on what they want. This is helpful in a way because it means that schools who want to track students who are really interested in knowledge have to raise their standards. Do you see a different view of Africa emerging now? Where do you see business education moving in Africa? I see some changes in the last couple of years. One of the things that I have seen move is the sense of boundaries in business education. Within a particular country you would find that people who offered business education lived in that particular country and served the needs of that country. This is changing now with a lot of top business schools coming into Africa. For some of them it is a question of moving to a better market. The chips are down in their home country because of the economic situation. How do we make up the numbers? Ok let’s go to Africa. These are the fly-in-flyout business schools. But I am glad to say that a lot of more credible schools are now seeking partnerships or establishing their own business schools. ConsidSeptember 2012  EduTech



Enase Okonedo

ering the drastically low number of schools in Africa, I think that it is a welcome development. I also think the competition is good as it raises the standards and that’s what I am about and that’s what we are all about at AABS. Talks of collaboration have also increased. Few years ago Africa did not even feature on the radar. But now they are coming into our terrain and collaboration is a way to know the peculiarities of doing business here. It’s also a way for the local business school to raise their standards and learning by walking with somebody. I think this will continue because the world is flat and the boundaries are breaking down in most spheres. What similarities and differences do you see in business education between Africa and India? When I visited IIM-A a couple of years ago I was very surprised when they told me about the number of applicants that they get. They take one in thousands. In Africa we are still taking one in three or maybe one in five applicants. To that extent we differ. In terms of faculty, I may be wrong here, but it is my view that you have a higher degree of academically qualified faculty in Indian schools than you would have in African schools. I see a lot of similarities in terms of what it is that we are trying to do in meeting the needs of the society. In research I think that both of us have high aspirations in terms of publication. I dare say though that perhaps with Indian institutions the main pedagogy may not be the case study method unlike the top business schools in Africa which have the Amercian oriented view of business education. How can collaborations between India Africa help? I like Indian institutions for experiential learning. I remember meeting a professor of innovation at IIM, Anil Gupta who takes students on a trip that is a part of their course. I also met a professor of history in Delhi, who instead of talking about Delhi’s history said: “Why don’t I take you to the actual spots and you can experience that?”


EduTech  September 2012

It is rare to find a female dean. I know of only one or two other female deans in Africa

There’s so much that comes out of this kind of an experience and is something that we can learn in African business schools. In terms of growth projections there is also room for collaboration. Indian academicians are known worldwide to be very good researchers. Collaboration will enable us to raise our research capabilities. A large number of Indian corporations do business in Africa. Obviously there is going to be some transfer of managers between the two regions. Collaborating with an institution can enable us to develop managers that are equipped with the skills to play in either region. What are the challenges that the head of a b-school faces in Africa? Most business school in Africa exist within the structure of a university. There is still a need to understand the difference between the business school and any other faculty. First the profile of the faculty and second the type of education it offers to its students. The challenge that a lot of the deans of business schools in Africa face is to just get the rest of the university to understand that there is a different kind of dynamics that drives a business school. To get the leader of the university to

understand that business schools should be innovative in structure and in terms of their offering and therefore the structures that govern them may have to be slightly different. To give them the freedom of curriculum review and design it according to the evolving needs of the industry. My school is a private school and exists within a university. But fortunately for us the business school gave rise to the university and not the other way around. The other challenge concerns the pedagogy of case study method that is used in most of our business schools. In a lot of African cultures you share your success stories but you don’t talk about your failures. If we want to develop more African case studies, we will need more cooperation from the industry to understand what they are doing. We need them to open up and tell us their stories. We have been able to do that at our business school because we have a very strong engagement with the industry. It may be less so in other places. How is it to be a woman leader in higher education in Africa? It’s definitely a big deal. I have always been the only woman in several situations. When I got appointed to the management team of the school around seven years ago and went for my first meeting, the room was full of men with the average age of 55. I was the first Nigerian and the first female dean of the Lagos Business School. I remember going to the first governing council meeting of the university and this time the average age was 68. It is rare to find a female dean. I know of only one or two other female deans in Africa. The fact that I am a woman has helped me. It is easy for me when I go out for fund raising. People in Nigeria are glad to see a woman in leadership of a top school and there is a willingness to accommodate. My colleagues at work say that I don’t see myself as a woman which I do think is a compliment. I have never sensed that there has been any sort of discrimination or negative bias. If one is seen as competent I think you can hold on to the position and place with respect. That is true for the AABS as well. Obviously I am the first female chairperson.

Enase Okonedo

But there are always instances when a woman has to just break through and then others will just follow. It will be a shame if somebody got a big position because of the quota system or some sort of gender equality just because one needs to have more women at the top. But we do need to encourage women in management education. More so in Africa where gender roles are still pretty defined. You find almost equal number of women and men at the initial stages into the career but with time that ratio changes. I did my PhD while I was bringing up my kids and it was on of the most difficult phases of my life. When I got my PhD I felt I had really achieved something. Have you taken any initiatives at your school to ensure more participation of women? Yes, certainly to ensure more participation of women we have a crèche at our business school so mothers can actually bring their babies to work. We have extended leave for people who go and

advts.indd 56

have babies and then we don’t penalise them if they are taking time out of work because I think that is one of the reasons why their career tapers off. What prompted you to switch from financial services to education? I trained as a certified public accountant but I always worked as a banker. When I joined banking industry I was very excited about my job. Sometime in the late 80s and early 90s liberalisation in the banking sector in Nigeria changed banking and I just started to feel unhappy with my job. I started looking for a change and it was very difficult because I was not trained to do anything else. I had never practiced accountancy and hence that was not an option. I took a year off hoping to do an MBA to broaden my horizon. I had a bit of time in my hand and saw that Lagos Business School was looking for a temporary research assistant. I applied and the person in charge said I was over qualified. But I managed to persuade him.


He said we are starting an MBA with IESE Business School in Barcelona, Why don’t you stay with your work and do your MBA here? So I did that. I did my PhD in Paris but did not move away from home. I had to keep shuttling between Paris and home. I was always passionate about the development of my country and of Africa. I was always sure of working here because I believe that change begins with each individual doing their part. I always wanted to do something that would impact the society. I always had an interest in creating a fund, so I always thought after MBA I would create a venture capital fund that had a social impact but then I got into the classroom and I found that I enjoyed the role and I also remained in touch with industry with consulting work. It was in many ways an ideal job. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at newsletters

12/22/2009 3:02:47 PM

TECHNOLOGY 42 Tech INTERVIEW: Lalit Kathpalia, Director, SICSR 44 Tech TUTeS: Online Reputation Management 40-45 Tech Snippet: Tehnology News and Tips and Tricks

Massive Open Opportunities

By prameesh purushothman c



MOOC has its share of detractors, but is surely revolutionising the way we teach and learn by Tushar kanwar EduTech  September 2012

ver the next few months, I’ve signed up to take a number of five to eight week long courses taught by professors from Stanford, Duke, and the University of Pennsylvania—some of the best minds and the most prestigious names in the discipline. I’ll be doing these courses along with thousands of classmates from around the world, working on assignments and mastering skills as I go along. All this without stepping out of my home and without taking a break from my job! And did I mention, without spending a dime? Till about a year ago, most academia and higher-ed students would have dismissed this phenomenon as being too far-fetched. All that changed in the fall of 2011 when over 100,000 people signed up for each of three Computer Science courses offered by Andrew Ng, Sebastian Thrun, Peter Norvig and Jennifer Widom of Stanford University. Literally overnight, several of the world’s top and most elite universities were at the forefront of experiments with this format, and the concept of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs was born.

Story Name

Over the past year, we’ve seen remarkable spate of MOOC ventures from top universities such as MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Berkeley, and the big names have attracted a number of startups in this space—Udacity, edX, Minerva, Khan Institute, Straightline, the University of the People and most notably Coursera, the coming together of 12 universities in the US and Europe under the banner of an internet course platform created by two Stanford scientists. They have in common a platform for free access and collaboration, assessment and certification mechanisms, and above all, a pace of growth that’s making investment houses and information industry giants sit up and take notice.

subsequent batches to take advantage of the learning just as students currently do with class notes. Of course, “Online Course” suggests that the course takes place completely online, and that it is in fact much like a regular academic course, structured down to what is to be covered in each week and associated assignments and assessments. But by far, one of the most defining features of MOOCs has been the level of connectedness and collaboration by participants online. The “classroom” may be just one of the many hubs where interaction occurs, others being personal blogs, websites, social networking sites, and it is these discussions that are at the core of the MOOC learning process.

MOOCs: What They Are?

Benefits of MOOC

For a breed of initiatives that are being touted as the democratisation of higher education, the thought behind MOOCs isn’t new, with the possibility of offering free quality education to thousands of students having piqued the interest of academia for decades. What is a MOOC then, and how is it different from the current models of distance education? To understand this, let’s break down what the terms in the acronym mean. “Massive” refers to the fact that anyone interested in following the course can do so, irrespective of geography, which often results in hundred if not thousands of participants (as was the case with Stanford). “Open” points to the fact that content and discussions around the course are open to the public, allowing

If you look at it from a student’s perspective, the benefits of signing up for one of many MOOC courses are plenty. Students get a wide variety of courses and assignments to choose from, learning occurs in an informal setting and the course flexibility allows for the student to attend when he/she has the time. There are no pre-requisite degrees, costly tuition fees and entrance exams that deter a lot of willing candidates in the regular institutional context. All that’s needed from the student is a robust internet and a willingness to learn—the latter being a critical component since a majority of MOOC courses see heavy signups but low percentages of course completion. And it’s not just targeted at college-goers; in fact, new online courses


are attracting mostly older workers who want to upgrade their skills and knowledge, but may not have the time or money to attend classes on campus. For institutions, MOOCs let colleges reach vast audiences at relatively low cost, in effect, by throwing open their doors digitally. Courses and faculties can reach out to people living in foreign countries, far beyond their in-class reach. For many of the initial MOOC adopters, the professed goal is more about changing the world than about making money, but business models and revenue opportunities are evolving and can exist, allowing this hitherto for-free model to generate revenues (see the “Are MOOCs financially viable?” section).

Criticism of the Model By the inherent openness of their design, MOOCs pose a unique set of challenges to students and faculty alike. Aside from the requirement of basic digital literacy, MOOCs often throw students into the deep end of self-monitored self-regulated learning, which may be difficult for those used to strict, syllabus oriented inclass courses. Also, sitting behind a computer takes away the in-person, real world socializing, presenting and practical experience that classes give you, not to mention the increased likelihood of academic dishonesty, particularly during assessments. And of course, the scale of a typical MOOC puts the onus of assessing possibly tens of thousands of students onto an already stressed faculty. September 2012  EduTech



Open Online Courses

Tech Snippet | Mobile

India among top nations Googling on education Google India’s recent survey revealed that India ranks second just behind the US in the volume of search queries related to education on Google. Over 60 per cent of the Indian students with Internet access use Google search for information related to courses and institutes. IT and vocational courses are most searched topics followed by MBA and engineering colleges. The study further reveals that Indian students spend about five to six months on researching before making their final decision on the institute they want admission in. The survey consists of

All this is assuming the content put out to the MOOC class is as good as the content taught in-class. With a pedestrian MOOC, the end result can be at best to inform, not to educate, and educators have to intentionally mold their content to best suit the digital medium, rather than put out mere podium lectures. And finally, there’s the issue of recognition of course completion—by way of credits. Though some colleges are slowly granting credits for completed MOOCs, it is a recognised problem that tracking an individual’s performance in a class of hundreds, (if not thousands of students) to legitimately award them credit is a tough nut to crack. A legitimate question then—if there is no credit, why would a student take up a course? MOOC advocates point to the fact that the individual can learn or say that they took a course from a prestigious authority in their field—an opportunity they may never have had previously—and substantiate it with better on-job performance.

Google search query patterns and an offline research conducted by TNS Australia. Out of 2,229 survey respondents, 52 per cent were female and 48 per cent male. The respondents belonged to 18-35 years age group. The survey was conducted across seven Indian cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The survey also showed a growing popularity of smartphones and usage of the Internet on the go among the Indian students, as majority said they wanted the educational institutes to have mobile-friendly websites. Students also said that they want more videos by institutes.

MOOCs–Massive Opportunity Technology mentor Kishore Bhargava and Gopi Krishna S Garge (currently on sabbatical from IISc, Bangalore), speak on how MOOCs will play out in the Indian context EDU: What are your thoughts on the MOOC phenomenon? Gopi Garge: I would like to draw your attention to local efforts such as the NPTEL effort by the Government of India. Clearly, this phenomenon is only going to grow larger and bigger given the local needs of our users­—be it language, countryspecific content, packaging

Financially Viable? MOOC naysayers point to a credible problem—the lack of a business plan to produce revenue and cover the notional loss of opening up prestigious content to just about anyone who registers. VCs and early MOOC startups have grappled with these issues, and some revenue models have emerged. If your institution is


EduTech  September 2012

Gopi Garge


(delivery to desktop or mobile first approach) etc. From being open ended in that they only currently provide the content and a sense of reward for watching the videos, these will evolve into more structured systems which could lead to the award of a diploma or a certificate of proficiency as a result of the assessment. Professionals who want to refresh their knowledge will be able to get quality content, while current students can use the content to supplement their formal learning or build on additional competencies. Kishore Bhargava: Universities that have taken the bold step to promote open content are doing a great service, and while these will still not substitute traditional distance learning and certification programs, they will certainly have an impact on learning. Along with the new breed of educational apps that allow students in all fields to learn at their own pace, MOOCs will definitely be a game changer, allowing students to learn

Open Online Courses

Tech Snippet | Tablets

Aakash 2 tablet to be launched in September The Aakash tablet is once again in the news, and this time hopefully for the right reasons. Kapil Sibal, the Minister of Human Resources, announced that the “Aakash tablet will be launching very soon,” when addressing the first convocation of BITS Hyderabad. The last time the Aakash 2 was in the news, was back in lateJune, when the tablet was officially revealed, with engineering colleges slated as the first recipients, with the rollout scheduled to begin in July, which never happened. Now, the tablet is expected to arrive by early September.


The Aakash 2 features updated specs when compared to its predecessor, and boasts ofAndroid 4.0 ICS straight out-of-the-box. It sports an 800MHz processor, 256MB of RAM, 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, 2GB of built-in storage, Wi-Fi and GPRS connectivity with voice-calling capabilities, and a 3,200 mAh battery that is rated to deliver up to 3 hours of battery life. The latest announcement about the Aakash 2 comes five months after IIT-Bombay took over the project from IITJodhpur. According to reports, IIT-B has already developed apps for the ultra low-cost tablet.

or Digital Hype? beyond the textbooks. Current distant learning programs should start adopting some MOOC features in terms of student/teacher interactivity.

EDU: Do MOOCs have the potential to work in India? GG: If you look at the demandsupply inequality in education, there is a huge potential for uptake of such online resources. However content providers (such as institutions) should provide content and let other agencies provide the structured content delivery and evaluation. Of course, depending on the level of study, content delivery could be available in specific languages, which would engage a wider learning audience. KB: Sadly, it will be a while before the industry accepts people who will have gone through these systems as their only form of higher education. People will also complain about access to courses due to lack of equipment or bandwidth but I think we have more or less overcome that problem. Tablets/ mobiles will help the cause greatly providing cheaper methods of Internet access. Given the size of the country and the number of people who can use

Kishore Bhargava Technology Mentor

these methods, it could make a positive shift in overall learning. Indian government should support and encourage these methods and where possible adopt them in existing distance learning.

EDU: What, according to you, is the tipping point for greater acceptability? GG: Openly available content enables two aspects—exploring subject matter and eventually skill acquisition. From an industry perspective, skills are what are

required up to a certain level in the production hierarchy. Open content helps people acquire skills. For example, some of the best programmers I know are commerce graduates and some are astrophysicists! They acquired their skills by utilizing the content available via the Internet—no formal training. With respect to computer programming, the industry has devised their own means of evaluation of candidate’s proficiency. I believe this will extend to other areas as well in different forms. It is going to take a while before such open material is packaged into courses with credits; it is a matter of time since there is a need for such approach. However, both the consumer (students/industry) as well as the supplier (content providers) will have to evolve themselves to find a acceptable middle ground. KB: Many modern day employers now interview and seek skills rather than qualifications specially startups and entrepreneurs. Till this trend does not spill over to the rest of the industries, nothing will change.

September 2012  EduTech



Open Online Courses

considering a MOOC initiative, one of these may apply to you. Certification/Credential Charges: While the base content may be free to offer to students, content mastery can be charged for. By putting a money premium on the actual assessment, institutes can tie up with remote testing centres (such as Pearson-Vue/Prometric) to run closely monitored assessments tests not unlike the kind of examinations that are run within the institutions. Meetup Charges: Coursera regularly sends out emails organizing real-world study groups and social meetups to encourage meeting with your virtual peers, but it is not unforeseeable for them to charge students to pay for the chance to meet and spend some quality interaction time with the professor. Employer Leads: With course owners having detailed records on which student has attained what level of mastery in which subject/skill, the next step is to sell leads to potentially recruiters. So, if Google India is looking for an expert in search technologies, Coursera could monetize the transaction by providing contact information for students who have completed the relevant course in India.

Setting up MOOC Interested in what you’ve read so far, but not sure your institution is ready to sign up and give away the rights to your courses to a provider like Coursera? You could explore the alternative of setting up your own MOOC to allow you to see how well it is accepted. MOOCs have one more benefit that’s not often discussed—they give students a chance to experience courses for free. Convince them of what your institution delivers, and it’s much easier to convince prospective students that your institution should be the institution of choice. All that’s needed for your own MOOC is the basics: a schedule, a syllabus referring to content and associated assignments/ selfassessments, and a learning space where course participants can meet and exchange ideas on the subject of the course to enhance mutual learning and experiences. You could get your IT administrator to set up a wiki within a section of your college website, or choose a free wiki for educational institutions at Load up your content, create a mailing list for class discussions, and you’re all set for a mini-MOOC rollout!


EduTech  September 2012

Tech INTERVIEW Lalit Kathpalia

Cloud, the catalyst for growth Lalit Kathpalia, educator and researcher on IT Management, says cloud is the way forward By Padmaja Shastri What is cloud computing and why should higher education institutes (HEIs) use it? Cloud is a metaphor for the internet and the delivery of storage and computing capacity through the internet to the end users is cloud computing. Every HEI was an isolated silo before the internet. It is cloud that has made an interconnected world possible. With cloud HEIs can solve problems of infrastructure and lack of resources, including money and faculty. This is possible as cloud providers can make infrastructure (servers), platform (operating system) and software (application software and databases) available as services. These can be rented as per the requirement, obliterating the need to buy and store, thus saving money, space and manpower. The servers and the system software are also remotely managed by the cloud provider/s, doing away with the need for a system manager. Cloud technology, with its obvious advantages, is the future of higher education. It is the best platform for education delivery, available anywhere, anytime. It also enables HEIs outsource most of the

Lalit Kathpalia  Director of Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research  Prior to that he was the Delivery Head, APAC Banking Unit at Infosys and has worked for 23 years in Information Technology management and training  Researcher and educator in the areas of management of and by technology, cloud computing, software project management and enterprise resource planning  Managed a programme for the establishment of the first exchange based Internet Trading System in India for Bombay Stock Exchange


administrative work and focus on their core activity – education delivery. Those who jump on to the bandwagon fast will be the prime movers and can leapfrog into higher levels of learning. The rest will be left behind and seen as luddites.

What are the things for which cloud can be used in an HEI? Institutions can use cloud depending on their own innovative ideas. Universities like MIT and Harvard are using it for delivering massive open online courses. Universities are being created, in the cloud, without any physical building. If two HEIs have an expert faculty each, they can offer a blend of courses using webinars, video-conferencing, without the faculty ever getting together. Cloud

can bring down the manpower used and the time taken for administration to a fraction by doing everything online— from processing applications to collecting fees; admission to exams. With cloud, HEIs can deliver personalised educational experience. Teachers can connect with students through email groups, social networking sites like Facebook, and Twitter, blogs, Skype, YouTube, Slideshare etc. Learning management systems like Moodle can be used by educators to create effective online learning sites. They can get students to explore other material in Wikipedia and e-books. What’s more, students can take their lessons at their own pace in these virtual classrooms and also practice what they learn via simulation. Even research


can be organized and research collaborations can take place online through academic social networks like Mendeley. Student placements and recruitment of faculty and staff can also be done through social networking sites. Cloud can also be used to issue digital certificates to students in a demat format. This way the certificates submitted by students can be authenticated in an easy manner.

What does an HEI need, to implement cloud technologies? The only thing needed mainly is a connection to the internet. Apart from that some basic computers depending upon the function required. If you want to apply the cloud for teaching and learnSeptember 2012  EduTech



Open Online Courses

ing, then you need as many computers as there are students and teachers. However, if you are using it to manage the student lifecycle, you may not require so many computers. You also need somebody who is (internal or outsourced) knowledgeable about web/cloud applications. Organisations like Educause and School 2.0 handhold HEIs who need help with the applications.

What changes is the cloud bringing in higher education? The biggest change is the transformation of the educational experience. Earlier if students had trouble understanding something, they either went to the teacher or the library. Today, they go online. Students learn through video lectures on YouTube, which they can attend any time they wish and submit assignments and take exams online. Students are becoming smarter than the teachers, as they are more internet-savvy. This has changed teacher’s role from an information provider to a facilitator and a men-

tor. The economics of computing has changed as it’s available on tap and you pay as you use. By enabling server and desktop virtualization, it also results in 95 per cent less power usage. Even more importantly, it helps students, teachers and HEIs share knowledge among themselves and thus, break walls.

Will cloud completely replace physical infrastructure? Absolutely. It is only a matter of time. However, online education may not be a perfect replica of what you get in the classroom. So, blended learning, which is a combination of classroom teaching as well as online learning, is a good idea. How will cloud impact the IT strategy of an HEI? Long-term IT strategies of HEIs involve buying hardware and software and storing it. It requires frequent investments in capacity expansion and infrastructure management. With cloud, you do not need to buy all these resourc-

es, you just `pay-as-you-use’ like you do for utilities such as electricity. Now IT strategy would rely on the cloud as a platform to deliver all services required for education with added flexibility of providing it Anytime, Anywhere. IT strategy earlier was inflexible because you were stuck with you bought. Now it can be optimized as per requirements and is cost-effective, better and faster.

What are the challenges to deploying cloud in an HEI? Access to the internet, which is still very limited in our country, is a major challenge. And then the speed of the internet connection is too slow in most places. There is also the problem of mindsets, which view cloud as a threat. Then there is a challenge of education itself. Educators need to be educated on cloud technology. At present students are learning things on their own. Also, we are just aping the west. Where is the Indian context, in terms of language, low bandwidth and access to the net?


Online Reputation Management By Tushar Kanwar

Manage You(r) Brand Online


s heads and thought leaders for your institutions, prevailing wisdom is that merely updating your university’s ‘About Us’ pages should be sufficient for your own online reputation, right? People searching for you should always come to the university website to find out more about you, right? In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth! Today, your online identity is just one discreet Google search away.


EduTech  September 2012

There are many facets to managing your reputation—your personal brand— online. Here are some tips. Know Thyself: The first thing you should consider is what is already out there. Run a Google search for your name, and evaluate the sites that come up. Is your Facebook profile divulging too much? Or an old site you had created years ago and never bothered to maintain? Remember, Google is no longer just a search engine, it’s a reputation

A lot is at stake today with our lives being lived out on social media

engine. When a prospective employer wants more information about you, a journalist needs background on you for a profile, or a student seeks details about your professional history, it’s Google they turn to. It might be a good time to remove the outdated digital bit about your online life, and create new content that will rank on the first page of Google for your name, before someone else discovers it.

Open Online Courses

Tech Snippet | Apps

Test prep app for BlackBerry smartphones Research in Motion (RIM) in coordination with telecom operator Vodafone and entrance test preparation firm IMS has launched a test preparation application called Study Buddy for BlackBerry devices. The app, developed by Punebased company OmniBridge Systems, is aimed at promoting BlackBerry phones among youth in the country. The Study Buddy app is available for download for BlackBerry smartphones on Vodafone network from the BlackBerry App World for free. To use the app, users will

Facebook Dilemmas: Facebook is a tricky beast to master, what with the myriad number of privacy controls and settings. First things first, control your Facebook profile from showing up in Google search by unchecking the “Enable public search” checkbox under your Facebook Account > Privacy Settings > Apps, games and websites > Public search section. Next, make sure all your Facebook posts that you want limited to friends and family are tagged with the “Friends” privacy setting, and not “Public” (you see this setting whenever you make a new post or share some content on Facebook). This way, your Facebook account stays within the circles of your choosing. Keep your Ears to the Ground: Knowing what people say about you is the first step in managing the information. Once you’ve searched Google search results for your name, you can have Google set up email alerts to monitor when someone makes a mention of your name on a public website. Go to com/alerts to activate alerts. Make your Presence Felt: If you’re a well-regarded voice in your academic circles, having your own online presence always helps strengthen your personal brand. Whether it’s via your own personal blog to share and document your thoughts, or managing your own social media presence on twitter, or even if it is via active participation in online forums around your areas of interest, being


however need to activate a data access plan that costs up to Rs. 599 a month. The app mainly has modules for CAT and MAT preparation and about 5,000 test papers are available for free download. The app randomly streams the questions to the phone when the app is used. The app will soon have study materials for other competitive examinations such as ISEET, NEET, GATE and Bank PO. Other features of the application includes in-app communication facility to chat with students on BBM.

Strengthen your online presence through blogs, online forums and twitter. Being active online increases the chances of good press about you

Run a google search for yourself and check if there are any old sites created by you needing updation

active will help give Brand You a positive fillip. Just remember, when it comes to the online actions, the more involved you are on industry related blogs, forums and other websites, the number of positive mentions increase, and if you combine this with physically participating in your community, not only will this generate good press for you and your institution but highlight you as an approachable individual to the community. LinkedIn is your Ally: As your visible resume online, an updated and well-leveraged LinkedIn profile can be used to great advantage for your professional presence. Just ensure that your profile is updated, full of rich data and links to

your work/research, and steers clear of personal interests. Next, join any of more than one million LinkedIn industry groups—they offer an excellent way to contribute thoughtful commentary and demonstrate expertise in your field, and make some meaningful connections in the bargain! Enhance your profile by adding in the power of LinkedIn applications. For instance, the Events app lets you find professional events, from conferences to local meet-ups, and make the right connections. Or one of the most popular, the SlideShare Presentations app that lets you upload slideshows, PDFs and PowerPoint presentations and share it to your profile. September 2012  EduTech




Grainne Conole  Director, Beyond Distance Research Alliance, University of Leicester, UK  Research interest in the use, integration and evaluation of Information and Communication Technologies


Grainne Conole, Professor of Learning Innovation

Exciting Times for e-learning Grainne Conole says e-learning will provide access for India’s huge young population By Mitia Nath What does e-learning involve for students? I think e-learning involves the use of any online digital tool, mobile device and a whole range of different things. The benefits of e-learning are enormous as they enable learners to learn anywhere, anytime. They give more flexibility and can also complement the campus face-to-face learning. The range of tools we have today and the way they enable learners to commuincate and collaborate with other learners and international experts worldwide, is incredible. It’s a very exciting time for e-learning. What about e-learning in India? Does it have a lot of scope in India? Well, it’s my first visit to India and I am delighted to be here. We had an excellent presentation at EDGEX 2012, which gave us the flavour for the context of education in India. India is clearly a country that is ancient in some way with age-old traditions. But


EduTech  September 2012

otherwise, it is very young and vibrant with a big population of young people. The huge demand for learning can’t be met by face-to-face campuses, so e-learning will be a major alternative by which students can access learning. One of the interesting things about e-learning in the Indian context is that India is striving towards excellence. Sugata Mitra, an Indian now based in England, carried out a wonderful ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment, where he went into villages in India and left a computer there. He thought in a month’s time the computers will be broken, but to his surprise the kids had worked out how to use it and that was something incredible. He said the Indian kids had high aspirations—they wanted to become engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Education in India is seen as a tool to root out poverty. India has got a very exciting future and e-learning is an important part of it. But the challenges India will face because of it’s mind-boggling numbers, are huge.

the global perspective From

INSIDE 51 | Hardly a Ringing Endorsement for Australia

o f h i g h e r e d u c at i o n

China Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Foreign Students Attracting international students is part of a package of higher education reforms aimed at internationalisation By Mary Hennock



The foreign touch: The desire to get students from across the western world could be a bid to build prestige


EduTech  September 2012

yodeji Okusanya, James Keane, and Fiona O’Regan are among the newly arrived international students absorbing their first day of class at Renmin University of China’s International Summer School here. As they devour bowls of rice topped with spicy sauces and shredded meat and vegetables in a campus canteen, they explain why they decided to enrol at Renmin for their first taste of China. O’Regan, from University College Dublin, is studying commerce and Mandarin. If she enjoys the four-week course, China could be a major part of her future career. “It’s better to find out early if you don’t like it,” she says. For Keane, also from University College Dublin, the experience “is more of a cultural visit”. And Okusanya, who is studying physics at the University of Warwick, in England, says he is road-testing his ‘just above beginner’ language skills. Renmin’s Summer School, now in its fourth year, is one of the most ambitious efforts so far to meet China’s goal of bringing half a million foreign students to its shores by 2020. To reach the bold target, the Ministry of Education is pouring money into colleges to establish programmes friendly to Americans and other international students. Traditionally, China has attracted two types of foreign students: the committed Mandarin-learners who want professional-level skills, and students from developing countries who want better bachelor’s and master’s programmes than the ones offered back home. Now China is looking to attract a broader swath of international students, like O’Regan and her classmates.

Global.Chronicle.Com Even more than most countries, China sees Programmes like Renmin’s are key to that universities as ‘economic drivers’ that signal strategy. The summer school mixes domestic its ability to compete globally, says Robert and international students and faculty memDaly, who heads the University of Maryland’s bers, and classes are taught in English. The Maryland China Initiative, which provides courses also last only a few weeks, which is a training in management and pedagogy to popular feature for many foreign students. Sign up for a free weekly Chinese universities. “This is a policy that Short academic programmes accounted for electronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at aims at a certain kind of prestige. The Chimore than half of China’s foreign enrolments Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter nese will not be satisfied unless they’re last year. The Chronicle of Higher Education is attracting American, European, and AustraWhether China can actually increase the a US-based company with a weekly lian students,” says Daly, who advises Chinumber of international students it attracts by newspaper and a website updated nese universities on how to improve courses more than 70 per cent—293,00 foreigners daily, at, that cover all aspects of university life. taught in English. studied in China last year—remains to be With over 90 writers, editors, and Though Chinese universities offer some seen. With improvements to university facilicorrespondents stationed around 20,000 courses in English, many are of poor ties in recent years, once-frequent complaints the globe, The Chronicle provides quality, with professors unable to speak by foreigners about doorless squat toilets, a timely news and analysis of academwell enough to teach effectively. “We’re still at lack of hot water, and bare concrete dorms ic ideas, developments and trends. the beginning” of offering such courses, says have subsided. But concerns about more Zhang. Universities are also still learning intangible issues, like the quality of teaching, how to design courses that would interest forhave arisen. eign students, particularly students who may not want to study And the stakes are high for China. In the same way the Beithe traditional subjects of Chinese language and literature. jing Olympics propelled refurbishment and expansion of the While the country is drawing students in a wide variety of entire city’s infrastructure, China’s educational planners view fields, including business and engineering, course offerings better English-taught courses for foreign students as a lever to have not necessarily kept pace with demand. “This is also internationalise university campuses. Ultimately, they hope something we can’t solve in a day,” says Zhang. the programmes will help improve the international standing of the country’s higher-education system. The 500,000-student target is part of a package of higherBlended Classrooms education reforms that includes inviting overseas universities Given its national education goals, the ministry wants to supto open China campuses, attracting foreign academics as visitport programmes for foreign students that strengthen Chinese ing scholars, enticing Chinese educated in the United States to universities over all. For instance, it would prefer a programme return, and coordinating more research with top-ranked uniin which a foreign university brings in a team of faculty memversities overseas. Study-abroad programmes are awash with bers who work alongside a host university’s instructors. Renpublic money, mostly channelled through universities, which min University’s summer programme is something of a showget a subsidy per student for opening new programmes. case in this regard, as it flies in dozens of faculty members “Internationalisation is necessary for universities in China,” from abroad. This summer’s lecturers include academics from says Zhang Xiuqin, who heads the ministry’s Department of Yale and Michigan State Universities, and the Universities of International Cooperation and Exchanges. “This isn’t just a Cambridge and Melbourne. Of the 3,000 students who enrol in challenge for international students. It is also a challenge to the programme, 300 are international. They receive Mandarin reform teaching methodology for Chinese students. Every uniinstruction, attend classes on tai chi and calligraphy, and mix versity has put this on the agenda.” with Chinese students in the English-taught segment, known as Academic Frontiers. All students, foreign and Chinese, get transferrable credits. Reformers hope that by learning to teach Western students, Chinese educators will shed their commitment to rote learning and instructor-centered classes. “Chinese professors are used to too much respect,” says Yang Huilin, Renmin University’s vice president of internationalisation. While the education ministry hopes that all of its 2,000-plus colleges will eventually attract foreign students, in practice most of its efforts have gone into the elite universities. One particular focus is the development of master’s programmes in English at leading universities such as Tsinghua and Peking Universities, and at Renmin. American colleges with major study-abroad programmes are on the ministry’s radar screen as potential partners, says Zhang.

Short academic programmes accounted for more than half of China’s foreign enrolments in 2011

September 2012  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE It’s unclear how much China is spending on the effort, because it involves multiple budget pots at national, provincial, and city levels, Zhang says. However, the money goes to universities to strengthen their capacity to absorb foreign students. They may use it to build facilities, or pass it along to students as tuition-and-fee waivers. Renmin University’s summer programme is ‘almost free’ to foreign students, says Yang, the Renmin Vice President. O’Regan, Keane, and Okusanya said their dorms and tuition are free thanks to scholarships. Universities are also rethinking what they teach. Less than a decade ago, discussion of contemporary China was hard to find in fusty textbooks and culture courses, which usually focussed on rare pandas and endangered folk customs. Elite universities are now modernising course content to appeal to Westerners wanting to understand China’s swift rise and future trajectory. Beijing Normal University started 61 English-taught courses in 2011, exploring such topics as pollution, urban migration, and population policy. Today’s students are more picky about subject matter than previous generations of would-be Sinologists, says Xiao Kai, Deputy Director of the university’s Office for International Exchange and Co-operation. “In the past everything was in Chinese. Even the culture course was in Chinese,” he says. The Shanghai Education Commission, mindful of the city’s heady international reputation as China’s Manhattan, is commissioning textbooks examining its economic and social policies during the last 30 years of economic reforms. A number of lesser-known Chinese universities, and those outside major cities, have attended international education conferences to promote study abroad at their institutions. But, says Zong Wa, Deputy Secretary General of the China Education Association for International Exchange, they’re not ready to take in many international students. Rather, they are themselves learning about the field of international education, he says. While short-term programmes are improving, four-year degree programmes for English-speaking foreigners remain weak. In addition to the poor English skills of most instructors, communication between faculty and students falls far short of what students from the United States would generally expect. Exam dates are announced or altered at a few days’ notice, and titles of courses or even whole degrees changed without consultation, say Western students studying in China. For example, Elizabeth Gasson, who is enrolled in a journalism master’s programme at Tsinghua University, in Shanghai, says an abrupt change in test dates forced her to cut short a valuable internship. “It was very inconvenient as I was doing some work for the European Union,” she says. Daly, of the University of Maryland, says such problems would deter some international students from seeking a degree at Chinese universities. “These are not yet places that American students could accept,” he says. “Students have to have certainty about stability of faculty, of majors, titles of degrees,” but the

reality is “an opaque and shifting landscape, which Chinese students accept because they have to,” he says.

Open Arms For American colleges who want to send students to China, the way to guarantee a successful programme is to have their own faculty on the ground, properly vet potential partners, and if problems do arise, to stick with the collaboration to iron them out, advise international educators who have worked in China. “There isn’t a Chinese university that isn’t willing to sign a partnership. They’ve become very entrepreneurial. Quality is another matter,” says Stephen C Dunnett, Vice Provost for international education at the University at Buffalo. The institution set up one of the first American academic programmes in China when diplomatic relations were renewed in 1979. To help ensure a high level of teaching for its students, the University at Buffalo brings junior faculty from Capital Normal University, where the university operates its Beijing study-abroad programme, to the United States for training.”Chinese teachers don’t have any expectations they’re going to have a studentcentered classroom, with a lot of give and take, but that’s what American students are used to from high school on up,” Dunnett says. “When it’s only six weeks, and our students have pulled a lot of summer jobs to pay for it, they’re very demanding about the quality of that experience.” Another challenge is getting students to consider venues other than major cities. “In their minds if they’re not in Shanghai, Nanjing, or Beijing, they’re not in China,” says Dunnett. “Their knowledge of geography is very poor, and Shanghai is considered the place for young people, and Beijing is the capital.” With the growing interest in studying in China, new private educational services have also emerged. For example, the startup Global Maximum Educational Opportunities established the Chengdu American Center for Study Abroad at Sichuan University with funds from the city of Chengdu, in southwest China. Courses will be imported from four American partners: Concordia University Chicago, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Georgia State University, and Merrimack College. The centre plans to enrol up to 100 students next spring. Sherry Sun, acting president of the company’s China operations, says students at the centre must take a course in Mandarin, but they don’t need any prior study of it—a reflection of how study-abroad programmes in China are opening their arms to a new breed of student. “We don’t require students have any Chinese-language background,” she says. “If they know zero, they can come.”

China aims to bring half a million international students to its shore by



EduTech  September 2012

Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at


Hardly a Ringing Endorsement for Australia International students are not feeling at home in Australia despite government survey reports to the contrary By Susan Woodward



fter four years in Aus t ra l i a , Ca t h e r i n e Nguyen, a 20-year-old student from Ho Chi Mi n h C i t y, s a y s t h e country and its education system are starting to lose their charm. Yes, she agrees with official student surveys that show most international students find Australia relatively ‘safe’ and ‘friendly’. Yes, her education at the University of Melbourne is ‘high quality’. But Nguyen says something deeper is missing. Halfway through her bachelor’s in commerce, she can’t give the country the kind of ringing endorsement it seeks, and perhaps needs. “As international students, we come to Australia and observe all these patterns of culture, and we’re really intrigued by the differences,” she explains of her efforts to befriend Australian students. “However, we don’t see that Australians feel the same way, in the sense that they do not really appreciate us back.” Nguyen is not alone in her views. While government surveys report that students are content, a burgeoning foreign-student movement and a growing body of academic research suggest that the truth is more complicated. In these forums, many students from China, India, and elsewhere report a range of experiences from feelings of loneliness to incidents of outright dis-

Bridging the student divide: Despite efforts to reinvigorate international education Australia is far from being the student destination it once was

crimination. They say they’re often left with the sense that Australia cares little for them beyond the amount of money they contribute. “We’re more like a product than anything else. We’re something that Australia sells and gets money out of,” says Arfa Noor, a student from Paki-

stan who is President of the Council of International Students Australia. Such attitudes come at a particularly critical time for Australia’s internationaleducation sector. For 20 years, higher education here enjoyed consistent, enviable growth in foreign-student enrollSeptember 2012  EduTech


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE ments, rising 18 per cent per year from 2006 to 2009, when students from abroad made up 36 per cent of the 630,000 students enrolled in the university and vocational sectors. That all came to an abrupt end after a spate of violent attacks against Indian students in 2009, which led to a government crackdown on ‘rogue’ vocational colleges and the easy pathways to permanent residency they were peddling. As the government restricted student visas, the amount of money brought in through international-student enrolments plummeted 12.5 per cent in 18 months, to $15.2-billion (Australian). Damage to Australia’s reputation and a strengthened local dollar are thought to have contributed to the fall. The attacks also began a public conversation about the ways in which international students are treated in Australia. Now the government has created an advisory council of eminent academics and business people charged with developing a five-year strategy to reinvigorate international education. It has also formed a round table, now in its third year, to receive feedback from students. The international education sector has welcomed such efforts. But students and other observers want to see decisionmakers put more effort into ensuring that international students have positive experiences—academically, socially, and culturally—while in Australia. “At the heart of the international-education industry, these are human beings who have basic human rights,” said

Helen Szoke, who oversees racial-discrimination complaints for the Australian Human Rights Commission. She is drawing up a set of guiding principles on international students. “Then, from a really practical perspective, you have to make sure that people who are coming to buy your services, at quite considerable cost and quite considerable benefit to universities, are completely looked after. The best thing we can do is give them a terrific experience, because they’re going to be the best advertisement for us when they return to their own countries.”

The Outsider Being an outsider was hard for Nguyen, the University of Melbourne student. When she began having housing and financial trouble in her first year of studies, she says the situation became overwhelming. In contrast to their domestic counterparts, whose tuition is heavily subsidised by the government, foreign students in Australia pay between $14,000 and $35,000 as annual tuition. The students also have to contend with a relatively high cost of living. Nguyen hoped to live in a residential college on campus but was shocked to discover the privilege would cost about $18,000 a year. She was looking at another $30,000 per year for tuition. Although her parents had put aside money throughout their work lives for their daughter’s education, Nguyen

In contrast to their domestic counterparts, whose tuition is subsidised by the government, foreign students in Australia pay between $14,000 and $35,000 as annual tuition 52

EduTech  September 2012

knew the price tag was beyond her family’s means. A high-achieving student in high school, she pinned her hopes on obtaining a scholarship. But the university did not respond to repeated requests for information on scholarship options, she says. Living in a tiny bedroom in a privately owned Melbourne apartment, she became stressed and confused. She negotiated a six-month leave of absence from the university and returned to Vietnam to contemplate her options. Victor Liu, a 32-year-old man from Beijing, remembers his struggles while obtaining a marketing degree from Monash University in the early 2000s. He had an easier time cultivating close friendships with Australian students. Resentment arose, however, as he worked as a janitor and factory worker to pay for his education. “It felt unfair,” Liu said. “I had to pay a huge amount of money for the uni fee, and because I was working it was my obligation to pay taxes. Then there was an Australian student living in the same house as me, and he didn’t do any work and he was living on a government benefit.” In time, both students found ways to navigate through most of their difficulties. Now an Australian citizen, Liu, who works as a technology business analyst for Monash, said he learned to accept the cultural variations between China and Australia and altered his “Asian thinking” and behaviour to fit in. Nguyen pleaded her case in a letter to the vice chancellor, and the University of Melbourne came through with a faculty scholarship that tempted her back. The scholarship covers about half her tuition; she pays the rest of her expenses with her parents’ life savings. Despite their improved situations, however, they and other students argue that Australia—now in sixth decade of deliberately recruiting students from abroad—has more work to do if it wants to keep attracting them in high numbers. “It’s difficult for international students, that’s always been a fact, but the universities and government don’t do

Global.Chronicle.Com much to help,” said Liu. “All I did in the past came from personal effort. They didn’t do anything at all to give me more of a chance, or a programme to make me feel more at home.”

Bleeding Students? Simon Marginson, a professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, has researched the Australian international-student experience extensively. More than half the students who were the subject of a study he undertook in 2005 said they had experienced racism or discrimination here; two-thirds reported feelings of social isolation. Marginson agrees that Australian institutions do not pay enough attention to student welfare. “The thing that worries me is the political economy of the sector drives us to extract every last dollar from each international student, so we can pour that money into research, primarily, and push up the rankings and maintain our brand value,” he said. “These aren’t secrets, they’re not propaganda, everyone knows they’re true—that we bleed international-student fees as far as we can for these other purposes.” Foreign students in Australia are increasingly well organised. On one level, the students want many of the basics that Au s t r a l i a n c i t i z e n s enjoy—standardised healthcare coverage, affordable housing, equitable school fees for dependents, and the right to vote in local elections. They have also called for a better-trained urban police presence. Their biggest and most emotive fight, however, is over travel concessions. For decades the states of Victoria and New South Wales have refused to extend the same discounts to international students that domestic undergraduates receive for public bus and train fares. The issue is reignited regularly at conferences and in the media and policy documents. The states argue that they

As surveys report that international students are content, a burgeoning foreign-student movement and a body of academic research suggest that the truth is more complicated can’t afford to give the concessions, and higher-education associations and international students argue that the states can’t afford to not give them. For international students, the issue is symbolic of the day-to-day discrimination they say they often feel. “It’s about fairness. It adds to the perception that the government doesn’t care and sees international students as cash cows,” said Wesa Chau, who helped found the Australian Federation of International Students in Melbourne 10 years ago. Of course, travel concessions have pragmatic benefits, too. Advocates say they would make a big difference to tight budgets, enough so that more international students would ride public transport instead of risking their safety by walking home after work or a night out. The lines of responsibility for student welfare in Australia are blurred, to say the least. The University of Melbourne, which has doubled its foreignstudent population since 2001 to about 12,000, employs 13 full-time staff in an international-student services division to help. Aid services range from financial to housing, disability, employment, and counselling. But Margaret Loh, a senior international-student adviser who assists hun-

36% of students enrolled in Australian higher-ed were from foreign countries

dreds of students on campus every year, said more was needed.”There needs to be a discussion at much higher levels to really work out, what is international education? Is it a ‘cash cow’ because the federal government is squeezing down funding to universities, or do we really want to embrace this notion of knowledge transfer across the world? Are we playing a global citizen role? What are we?” Loh said. As universities watch enrollment numbers closely, such questions will form part of the work of the federal government’s business and academic advisory council. Among other things, the council is promising to examine ways to improve engagement between international students and local students and communities. Also on the agenda is how services—including the travelconcessions—can be delivered more consistently nationwide. Noor, the Council of International Students Australia President, says having student issues addressed nationally is a significant and hopeful development. “It’s going to take a while for the whole industry to change its point of view,” she said. “But there has been a big change in the way the conversations are taking places and a lot more conversation about student support.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at September 2012  EduTech



Revolt Of The Fish Eaters A mixture that is both good and bad, peppered with a sense of humour. Rohini Banerjee Lopa Ghosh’s debut is an Indian khichdi—it takes generous chunks of fact, mixes it with fiction and fantasy, evokes from the past and merges it with the present, takes political engagement along with apathy, solid prose with grammatical suicides and headache-inducing sentences. The problem in Ghosh’s collection lies in its inconsistency—the language oscillates between pure rococo and Hinglish-Benglish. However, all is not bad in this pish-pash; Ghosh’s strength lies in her occasional humour—acerbic and empathetic at the same time. And in her metaphors. She offers interesting insights into the corporate world; one which she knows closely as she was very much a part of it before moving onto her present stint at the United Nations. Though her characters are sometimes not a direct part of the corporate world, they remain deeply influenced by it. And bosses, power points and offsites make their special appearances.

“I was afraid someone would ask why are the stories thus (sexual)... someone did!” Lopa Ghosh

For those intrigued by Ghosh’s choice of the title, the stories are not exclusively about the Bengali community. Though the writer is admittedly one. She has also centred several of her plots around NRI Bengalis. But Revolt is named thus because Ghosh believes that fish eaters enjoy a ‘momentary sense of happiness’ after eating the meat because of the presence of Omega3 fatty acids in it. Thus, her stories are about fluctuating emotions—desire, longing, loss and manipulation. Revolt is also the story of other fish-eating Indian communities and contains mesmerising flights of fantasy along with deceitful forces including a ghost of a dead mother, clueless communists and post modern arrogance. A chairman manipulated by his mother’s ghost; a mid-rung career woman in love with a Siberian oil digger; a corporate anthropologist in love with a suicide bomber; IT companies growing tea; a radical theatre actor creating boardroom Buddhas; the leader of an impending revolution who can only sing nursery rhymes; the world’s richest man in the middle of witchcraft, rape and idol immersions, Revolt of the Fish Eaters is a strange and motley collection from the business world going through its worst recession period yet. If her plots sometimes let you down, Ghosh’s style makes the collection an enjoyable read. And her intriguing characters are a strength. Author: Lopa Ghosh Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher Price: ` 299

New releases for your BOOKSHELF Blended Learning in Higher Education This book reflects the author’s enthusiasm and experience of blended learning. It will make professors and administrators think about how to improve the learning experience using blended learning. Author: D Randy Garrison, Norman Vaughan Publisher: Jossey-Bass Price: $30.36


EduTech  September 2012

Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference Exploring Leadership is designed to help college students understand that they are capable of being effective leaders and guide them in developing leadership potential. Author: Susan Komives, Nance Lucas, Timothy McMahon Publisher: Jossey-Bass Price: $27.50


gADGETS Tech Insider | Tushar

Don’t Bet on 3D Yet! My first experience with 3D was a diminutive toy-like device called the View-Master. You’d peer through it and shockingly well-rendered 3D photos would jump out at you. Pity that three decades later, we’re not much further along the personal 3D revolution. Wait a minute! Aren’t TV manufacturers crowing about major advancements in TV technology every passing year? Sure, but what’s the point of technology for technology’s sake? Nobody cares if there’s no 3D content to play on that latest greatest 3D TV. Many had hoped that with the recently concluded Summer Olympics 3D TV would hit the prime-time, with sponsors proudly claiming that over 240 hours of 3D programming would be available in select countries. Much of that content never made it to TV screens.  Even with the possibilities of home movies and photography driving the adoption of 3D in the living, the flagship products—a camera by Fuji, a handycam from Sony and an HTC smartphone—seemed half-marketed party tricks. All you’re left with is expensive blu-ray movie content that can do the 3D capabilities on your TV some justice. Sure, many 3D TVs today convert 2D content to 3D, but having seen these, I’m frankly unimpressed. In fact, the current generation of 3D technology gives a section of the audience headaches.  There’s hope on the horizon though with a few manufacturers toying with glasses-free 3D, but it is prohibitively expensive. If you’re looking to buy a TV in the next year, do not use 3D as a parameter of choice. I personally will not be betting on 3D for some time to come.

A self-confessed gizmo-holic, Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist with the Telegraph and Business World, and contributes to a variety of technology and lifestyle publications. Tushar’s interests lie at the intersection of consumer technology, internet trends and products that change the world.

Samsung’s New Galaxy Note Samsung is all ready to raise the curtains on its next generation smartphone-tablet hybrid device, the Galaxy Note 2. The Galaxy Note 2 is said to have a 5.5-inch display, as compared to 5.3-inch screen of the original Note. The Note 2 will run on the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system and sport a 13 MP camera. The device is expected to be powered by a quad-core Exynos processor, the same as seen in the SIII. Price: ` 36,000

Sony Vaio E-series Notebook After the extremely blingy Vaio S-series, the new E-series does look a million times more subtle and appealing to a wider demographic of users. It is powered by the Intel Core i5–2450M (2.5 GHz) processor, with the Turbo Mode taking it to 3.1 GHz. There is 4 GB RAM to help this along. The 14-inch display on the Vaio E-series is among the best we have seen in the last couple of months. The Vaio E-series offers good performance and looks very well while doing it. However, the real cherry on the cake is the excellent battery life that it offers. Price: ` 55,990

September 2012  EduTech


legacy “The spirit and outlook of ‘Sankhya’ will be universal, but its form and content must necessarily be, to some extent, regional”

Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis Numbers Man


renowned Indian scientist and applied statistician, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis is best known for the Mahalanobis Distance, a statistical measure. He founded the Indian Statistical Institute, contributed to the design of large scale sample surveys and pioneered studies in anthropometry in India. A Bengali, Mahalanobis grew up surrounded by intellectuals and reformers. He received his early schooling at the Brahmo Boys School in Calcutta and completed his BSc in Physics from Presidency College in 1912. The following year, he went to Cambridge for further studies. On his return to India he was introduced to the principal of Presidency College and got an invitation to teach physics. He went back to England and was introduced to the journal Biometrika. This interested him so much that he bought a complete set and brought it to India. He discovered the utility of statistics to problems in meteorology, anthropology and began working on it on his journey back to India. Mahalanobis married Nirmalkumari, daughter of Heramba Chandra Maitra, a leading educationist and member of the Brahmo Samaj, on February 27, 1923. His most important contributions are related to large-scale sample surveys. He introduced the concept of pilot surveys and advocated the usefulness of sampling methods. Early surveys began between 1937 to 1944 and included topics such as consumer expenditure, tea-drinking habits, public opinion, crop acreage and plant disease. He was also a member of the Planning Commission and contributed prominently to India’s Five Year Plans. In the Second Five Year Plan he emphasised industrialisation on the basis of a two-sector model. His variant of Wassily Leontief’s Input-output model, the Mahalanobis model, was employed in the Second Five Year Plan, which worked towards the rapid industrialisation of India. He encouraged a project to assess deindustrialisation in India and correct some previous census methodology errors and entrusted this project to Daniel Thorner. He also had an abiding interest in cultural pursuits and served as secretary to Rabindranath Tagore and worked at his Vishva Bharati University for sometime. He received Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India for his contribution to science and services to the country in 1968. He died a day before his 79th birthday on 28 June 1972. At that time, he was still active in research and doing his duties as the secretary and director of the Indian Statistical Institute and as the honorary statistical advisor to the Cabinet of the Government of India. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at


EduTech  September 2012

(1893–1972) 1944 Weldon Medal from Oxford University 1950 President of Indian Science Congress 1951 Fellow of the Econometric Society, USA 1952 Fellow of the Pakistan Statistical Association 1954 Honorary Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, UK 1957 Sir Deviprasad Sarvadhikari Gold Medal 1961 Durgaprasad Khaitan Gold Medal 1968 Padma Vibushan









Breaking The Mould  
Breaking The Mould  

Autonomous colleges are breaking away from their parent universities and raising the bars for themselves and others