EDU | VOLUME 01 | ISSUE 09
A 9.9 MEDIA PUBLICATION JULY 2010 WWW.EDU-LEADERS.COM
Shankar S.Sastry, Dean, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
FOR LEADERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
ENGINEER Dean Sastry’s New Mantra for Engineering Education P12
GERALD ROSS “WE THINK OF LEARNING AS AN END-TO-END PROCESS” P48
ARUN S. NIGAVEKAR BELIEVES “KNOWLEDGE IS THE NEW CURRENCY” P64
HIGHER EDUCATION IS SEEKING A PPP PUSH TO PUT THINGS IN ORDER P30
GET THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE FROM
FOREWORD Spot on!
“DEAN SASTRY’S IDEA OF THE ‘CITIZEN ENGINEER’ IS SPOT ON, AND VISIONARY AT THE SAME TIME”
hen I decided to join McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm, after receiving my BTech, MSE, and PhD degrees in engineering, my peers and mentors accused me of selling out and settling for a career that did not require the years of training that I had received. What was seen then as “wasted education”, has been, in fact, my strongest asset. My background made me a great generalist problem-solver. It gave me the confidence to take on complex challenges and apply structured analytical thinking to solving them. The one regret; if only I knew I would end up doing what I do now, I would have opted for a wellrounded undergraduate education—with a healthy dose of liberal arts, communication and leadership training. My story is not an unusual one. Engineering education is no longer about becoming an engineer. Most undergraduates end up in non-engineering careers; in consulting, banking, civil services, software development, and general management. In fact, studying engineering has become synonymous with solid undergraduate education today. The time has come to recognise that more engineers will go on to follow non-engineering career paths. This calls for a holistic and integrated curriculum, rather than the highly-specialised ones in traditional engineering disciplines that may be losing relevance in any case. We have been fortunate to get one of the foremost engineering thinkers, Dean Shankar S. Sastry of the College of Engineering at University of California, Berkeley, to share his views with us on the future of engineering education. His idea of the “Citizen Engineer” is spot on, and visionary at the same time. I, for one, can immediately identify with his views. I hope you will find it inspiring as well! It gives us great pleasure to announce that EDU is introducing a new section, “Global Perspective”, with articles re-published from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the acclaimed US periodical. This collaboration is a privilege for a young magazine such as ours. We hope this is the beginning of what will prove to be a long and fulfilling relationship.
Dr Pramath Raj Sinha firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2010 EDU TECH
Edu Tech December 2009
CONTENTS EDU JULY 2010
VOLUME 01 | ISSUE 09
07 LAUNCHED REPORT 08 PROHIBITION POLICY 09 STRATEGY VOICES
11 DHEERAJ SANGHI Why do our engineering graduates fail to meet the mark? Find out how to preempt the 21st century engineering crisis 28 RAHUL CHOUDAHA Is higher education really the charitable exercise it is made out to be? 46 RISHIKESHA T. KRISHNAN Our three-year graduation courses have limited scope. There is a need for a more vibrant liberal arts culture
64 ARUN NIGAVEKAR Meet the man whose quest for quality overhauled the Indian higher education system By Padmaja Shastri
Maybe it’s the honesty of thought. Nobody ever doubts what I say”
should spread the Public Private Partnership fever to the private sector for large-scale results By Padmaja Shastri
36 VIDEO CONFERENCING The learning method of the future is here. Breaking geographical barriers, multiple lectures at a time By Suma E.P.
22 RETRAINING FACULTY EDU shows you why your faculty shouldn’t stay stagnant By Parul Gupta
Learn more about what’s happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU
12 GROOMING THE CITIZEN ENGINEER Meet Dean Shankar S. Sastry and get to know how he’s training technical minds to become global citizens By Vinita Belani
30 LEVERAGING COLLABORATIONS Why and how the Centre
52 RISE OF THE GLOBAL VARSITY: FIVE NEW TENSIONS By Simon Marginson
EDU TECH July 2010
7/21/2010 2:23:18 PM
FOR LEADERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
MANAGING DIRECTOR: Dr. Pramath Raj Sinha PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Vikas Gupta PRINTER & PUBLISHER: Kanak Ghosh GROUP EDITOR: R Giridhar CONSULTING EDITOR: Aman Singh ASSISTANT EDITOR: Smita Polite EDITORIAL ADVISOR: Dr RK Suri INTERNATIONAL CONTRIBUTOR: Vinita Belani ASSISTANT FEATURES EDITOR: Rohini Banerjee SUB-EDITOR: Urvee Modwel DESIGN SR CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jayan K Narayanan ART DIRECTOR: Binesh Sreedharan ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR: Anil VK MANAGER DESIGN: Chander Shekhar SR VISUALISERS: PC Anoop, Santosh Kushwaha SR GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Suresh Kumar SR DESIGNERS: Prasanth TR & Anil T DESIGNER: Sristi Maurya CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER: Subhojit Paul
48 CREATIVE TEACHING Gerald Ross combines his industry and academia experiences to reinvent management education By Aman Singh
18 HARD TIMES The Indian engineering education system is going through a rough patch. But there is hope ahead By Smita Polite
66 BOOKS n The Law Of Higher Education n Deculturalisation And The Struggle For Equality 67 PRODUCTS n The phone that has everything n The world’s first 3D Digicam
59 THE HUMANITIES GO GOOGLE By Marc Parry
60 THE GOSPEL OF WELLEDUCATED GUESSING By Tom Bartlett
This index is provided as an additional service.The publisher does not assume any liabilities for errors or omissions.
A 9.9 MEDIA PUBLICATION JULY 2010 WWW.EDU-LEADERS.COM
EDU | VOLUME 01 | ISSUE 09
PRODUCTION & LOGISTICS SR. GM OPERATIONS: Shivshankar M Hiremath PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE: Vilas Mhatre LOGISTICS: MP Singh, Mohamed Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh OFFICE ADDRESS Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd C/o KPT House, Plot 41/13, Sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Certain content in this publication is copyright of The Chronicle of Higher Education and has been reprinted with permission Published, Printed and Owned by Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt Ltd. Published and printed on their behalf by Kanak Ghosh. Published at KPT House, Plot 41/13 sector-30, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400703, India Printed at Silver point Press Pvt Ltd, d107 TTC Industrial Area, Nerul Mumbai 400706. Editor: Anuradha Das Mathur
COPYRIGHT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED : Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from Nine Dot Nine Interactive Pvt. Ltd is prohibited.
Shankar S.Sastry, Dean, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
FOR LEADERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
68 SIR JC GHOSH A “Different” Director
60 THE CAMPUS GREEN: TRAMPLED BY THE WHEELS OF LEED? By Mark H. Hough
SALES & MARKETING VP SALES & MARKETING: Naveen Chand Singh BRAND MANAGER: Siddhant Raizada NATIONAL MANAGER-EVENTS & SPECIAL PROJECTS: Mahantesh Godi NATIONAL MANAGER ONLINE: Nitin Walia ( 09811772466) ASSISTANT BRAND MANAGER: Arpita Ganguli GM SOUTH: Vinodh Kaliappan(09740714817) GM NORTH: Pranav Saran(09312685289) GM WEST: Sachin N Mhashilkar(09920348755) AD CO-ORDINATION/SCHEDULING: Kishan Singh
ENGINEER Dean Sastry’s New Mantra for Engineering Education P12
GERALD ROSS “WE THINK OF LEARNING AS AN END-TO-END PROCESS” P48
ARUN S. NIGAVEKAR BELIEVES “KNOWLEDGE IS THE NEW CURRENCY” P64
HIGHER EDUCATION IS SEEKING A PPP PUSH TO PUT THINGS IN ORDER P30
GET THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE FROM
Cover Art: DESIGN: BINESH SREEDHARAN PHOTO: BART NAGEL
Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling
July 2010 EDU TECH
7/21/2010 2:23:29 PM
at a glance 0 7 L AU N C H E D 0 7 R E P O RT 08 PROHIBITION 08 POLICY 09 STRATEGY 09 VOICES & MORE
NEW VC FOR BIT MESRA Professor Ajay Chakrabarty has taken over as the new Vice Chancellor of BIT, Mesra, Ranchi. Previously, he was the professor of electronics and communication engineering and Dean of Continuing Education Programme at BIT Mesra. Chakrabarty has been associated with IIT Kharagpur for three decades, as well as with the University of Syracuse, US. An expert in the field of communications he was the recipient of the INSA-COASTED Fellowship, under the URSI Young Scientist Award Scheme.
ERA TO SET UP VARSITY
D. Purandeswari , minister of state for human resource development
Centre Plans Twin IIITs In Northeast Locations of the proposed institutes are being worked out
he Indian government is mulling two new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in the Northeast. “Locations are being worked out,” said D. Purandeswari, minister of state for human resource development, while addressing the All India Editors’ Conference on Social and Infrastructure Issues. She said that at least 44 new colleges and six engineering colleges will be opened in the Northeast. “Out of the 10 new National Institutes of Technology (NIT) proposed to be opened in the country during the 11th Five-Year Plan, six will be in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim,” she added. The minister said that the Right to Education Act and other flagship literacy programmes will help bridge the literacy gap, further. “At least 70 million non-literates will be made literate, to achieve the Centre’s target of 80 percent literacy. To reduce gender disparity, 60 million women will be educated,” she added.
EDU TECH July 2010
After its foray into the power transmission and distribution sector, New Delhi-based infrastructure company—Era Infra Engineering—announced its plan to enter the education sector and start an open university. The company has also received approval from All India Council for Technical Education for new programmes at its newly-set up management school in New Delhi. “We aim to have the university up and running by 2012,” said H.S. Bharana, chairman and managing director of Era Group. The proposed university is likely to come up on the RajasthanHaryana border.
INDIAN APPOINTED UN RAPPORTEUR ON RTE An international law expert from India, Kishore Singh, has been appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (RTE). Presented by the Centre and two judges of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Singh’s candidature was supported by the Geneva-based Platform of NGOs. Being the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Singh will be responsible for safeguarding and promoting the right to education worldwide. Apart from this, an annual global report will also have to be presented by him to the Human Rights Council. The report will consist of interactive dialogue.
e-File Tracking System Launched Jamia Millia Islamia to facilitate access for varsity staff, and expedite the work
iming to implement e-Governance on campus, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, is preparing to be the country’s first university with an e-file tracking system for its departments. This intranet file tracking software, developed by the FTK-Centre for Information Technology (FTK-CIT) of the university, will enable authorised users to monitor the movement of their files or papers within the university. “The new tracking system will facilitate access of files for the university staff and expedite work,” believes CIT Director Z.H. Khan. “We do have a number of files of different categories in different sections. To find out a single file we often have to run from one branch office to the other. With the help of this new software, the staff can search out files by typing simple keywords,” Khan said. “We will first use the system in the Registrar’s and the Vice Chancellor’s offices,
e-Solutions to the rescue at Jamia Millia Islamia University
since the most important files are kept there. Later on, we will implement the system in other departments, including faculty offices,” he added. The new tracking system has been built over the existing in-house developed Management Information System, which is an integrated university-wide enterprise resource planning system.
To ensure smooth implementation of the utility across the university, a number of training programmes have been conducted by FTK-CIT for users in the university offices. “Our staff is currently being trained to use the new system. It will prove to be revolutionary and make the university more efficient,” Khan said.
Social Sciences Gain Ground In Asian, Latin American Institutes ACCORDING TO A STUDY conducted by International Social Sciences Council and UNESCO, the social sciences, which dominated the western university campuses for a long time, are now gaining ground in Asia and in the Latin America. The report highlights contrasting developments in regions across the world. Social sciences are developing in countries such as China, India and Brazil. In Brazil, the number of social science researchers has tripled in the past 10 years. In China, the budget for the social and human sciences has increased by 15 percent to 20 percent a year since 2003. Despite this imbalance, authors observe that the strongest growth has been in Latin America and Europe. On the other hand, Russian Federation and Commonwealth of Independent States have seen a sharp drop since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, due to the falling number of researchers. Russian universities are struggling to attract new talent. PHOTOS.COM
years of careful planning has tripled the number of social science researchers in Brazil
rise in the budget for social education has led to a social science boom in China July 2010 EDU TECH
Panel Bans Animal Dissection In UG Panel Recommends Use Of Models, Multimedia Computer-Based Simulators And Virtual Labs For Educating Students
issection of animals by zoology and life science students at the undergraduate level will be completely stopped, a University Grants Commission (UGC) committee has decided. “The move will save thousands of animals,” says B.K. Sharma, a member of the UGC Core Expert Committee. The committee decided that animal dissection will be limited to one or two species at the postgraduate level. According to rough estimates, the total number of undergraduate students in our country exceeds 1.5 million. “On an average, a student dissects two animals per session. The move will save 18 million animals per academic session,” Sharma said. Postgraduate students will be given an option to chose between “biodiversity” or “live zoology” as a part of their curriculum, limiting the number of dissections. “Recommendations will save a huge amount of money currently being spent on the pur-
chase of animals every year by the institutes for dissection. It will also help destroy the nexus between institutions of higher education and the catchers, killers and suppliers of dead and live animals,” he added. Instead, the committee has recommended the use of modern techniques such as
Punjab Govt’s Fee Waiver Move Students from economically weak sections to receive Rs 198000 as a waiver in the technical education stream Punjab has launched a free technical education scheme that will allow the state’s students to avail a tuition waiver worth Rs 198000 for the four-year degree course, and Rs 54,500 for the three-year diploma course. The scheme, which covers engineering, pharmacy, hotel management, architecture, applied arts and crafts, can be availed by the students whose parents’ annual income is Rs 250,000, or less. The government’s move will benefit students from the economically weak sections. “Besides, institutional charges and university funds will also be waived. Free boarding and lodging will be provided, subject to availability or provision,” said a senior official of the Technical Education and Industrial Training Department. “Students who have been admitted can avail this scheme as well, but only within their institutions. However, they can change branch and trade subject to avail
EDU TECH July 2010
models, multimedia, computer-based simulators, mannequins and virtual laboratories on animal anatomy. “These tools are humane and prove to be better than handson use of animals,” Sharma said. UGC is preparing the blueprint for implementing the recommendation in colleges and universities across the country. “A nation-wide plan to get the ban implemented state-wise in India is being prepared. All universities in Rajasthan are expected to be free from any sort of laboratory dissections during the coming academic session,” he added. Dissection of animals was introduced in the 1920’s in life science education. The practice has come under criticism all across the world. The committee’s recommendation were lauded by PETA India. As PETA and other animal organisations had pointed out, the non-animal teaching methods available were superior to the one that recommended the use of animals in science education. Dissection allegedly puts a student’s health at risk because of the use of formaldehyde—a chemical used to preserve animals killed for dissection. The solution, allegedly, causes nausea, headaches and breathing difficulties and has even been linked to cancer.
free seats. If they receive admissions, it will be an institute’s responsibility to refund fee under the scheme,” an official said. Even technical institutions have been allowed to fill seats above 10 percent from the sanctioned strength. The scheme is applicable to state and private technical institutions. The state has made it mandatory for all institutes to publish the number of fee waivers in their brochures. Institutes have been directed to display branch-wise status to candidates during counselling and admissions. Punjab Technical University and Punjab State Board of Technical Education & Industrial Training will soon advertise about the scheme.
Chandigarh To Allow Feedback System to allow students to evaluate teachers and improve quality of teaching In a bid to improve the quality of teaching in the union territory of Chandigarh, colleges will introduce a feedback system in which students can evaluate their teachers—from this academic session. “Feedback from students will help the faculty bridge the gap between the students’ expectations and what is being delivered to them. It will also make the system more transparent,” believes Ram Niwas, the educationcum-home secretary. “We have already issued directions that each college should ensure that feedback forms are filled up by the
students in the last week of August, December and February,” he said. The Chandigarh Education Department has also issued strict directions to teachers to remain present in classrooms, irrespective of the students’ strength. “We will constitute special teams to go for surprise inspection of all classrooms,” Niwas said. There are at least 15 private and government colleges in Chandigarh. Besides, Niwas also asked college authorities to install CCTV cameras on their premises, to keep an eye on anti-social elements.
VOICES “PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES SHOULD ALSO SERVE PUBLIC NEEDS and contribute in some measure to the public good” — KAPIL SIBAL Union Minister for Human Resource Development, India
“WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION AND A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE INVESTING IN OUR STUDENTS AND OUR SCHOOLS. We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible” — BARACK OBAMA, President, US
Ministry, IITs Ink Agreement
MoU on National Ganga River Basin Management Plan
he Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), have committed themselves to developing a management plan for the Ganga basin—National Ganga River Basin Management Plan Project (NGBRM). Seven IITs have come together for this purpose. The management plan will outline the strategy and actions that need to be undertaken for the maintenance and restoration of the basin. It will take into account the constraints of population, urbanisation, industrialisation and agriculture activities. Discussions will be held with local, state and private agencies, who have to deal with the maintenance of the basin. The plan will also take into account the experience of earlier attempts. The work is estimated to be carried out within a period of 18 months. The project fund is estimated to be around Rs 150 million. The agreement was signed between the directors of seven IITs and ministry of environment and forests in the presence of Kapil Sibal and Jairam Ramesh. This initiative will involve not only faculty and students of the seven IITs, but will also take help from experts from other institutes and universities.
“IT IS TIME WE STRUCTURE OUR INSTITUTIONS OF KNOWLEDGE to be a global player in the 21st century” — SAM PITRODA, Advisor to Prime Minister of India
“THE WORLD CUP IS A VERY IMPORTANT CULTURAL EVENT, A PARTY AND HAS A GREAT EDUCATIONAL INTEREST, Watching a match at school takes up two hours of class time. But if students stay at home that’s six hours at least” — ALBERTO SILEONI, Minister of Education, Argentina
July 2010 EDU TECH
The 21st Century Engineering Crisis
ormal engineering education at a university level is a 20th century phenomenon. Till the 19th century, if one wanted to be an engineer, one joined a professional guild by becoming a trainee. This process ensured that a so-called student understood the practice well. Even in the few formal learning environments, training component was a must.
The two World Wars in the first-half of the 20th century fuelled the demand for engineers, which led to the formation of formal, science-based engineering courses that became a norm in the 1950s and 1960s. In such a course a student would not only learn the necessary skills, but would study the most basic science behind the technology. Analytical skills, physics and maths, thereby, became important. Formal and science-based engineering education led to eventual growth in technology, unleashing a volley of innovations. However, even today, a bunch of the former challenges that plagued society and led to the need for professional engineers remain. These problems apparently are not being solved by the current crop of students. To understand why not, a fresh look at the curriculum is needed. The engineering education sector, particularly in India, has been growing at a fast pace. This change was made possible through standardising education—establishing a set-up in which a single university provided affiliation to hundreds of colleges that would teach a standardised syllabus—leaving little space for innovation. If this lack of innovation was (and is) our primary problem, the secondary one is that we train students to solve problems of the
EDU TECH July 2010
developed world. There is a scarcity of books that talk of problems that are local. (Say for instance there is no literature on the Indian power distribution system—its transmission and distribution losses). While it is good to have an engineer who can solve global problems, it is great to meet one who sees developing and underdeveloped countries as a part of that “world”. After all, today’s interesting problems often relate to the “bottom of the pyramid”. Engineers should be equipped to deal with real life problems, a trait that’s disappearing since computer-simulated problems are all that the youth are encountering nowadays. Several young people don’t understand practical considerations. When they become “experts”, they often design either inferior products or over-engineered ones. Computers are a great tool—but let them not take students out of labs and workshops.
Curriculum Route To address this lacuna between necessity and ground reality our country needs a “smart syllabus”. The curriculum of the future needs to help students connect to the society, understand practical considerations, encourage creativity and innovation, and hands-on work. Courses must include extensive laboratory projects and term papers. Ideally, labs train students in skills such as handling equipment and soft-
ware. Projects require them to develop software, encourage creativity and expose them to development lifecycles. Term papers and presentations expose youth to topics that are not covered in class—inculcating a habit of learning on their own and improve communication skills. Courses, ideally, should have at least one of these components. To enable students to relate to the world around them, universities have always encouraged industry internship—a norm that has become mechanical today. Instead of aiming for a sparkling project report, youth should be encouraged to work towards a positive goal, especially in NGOs or businesses within the local communities to understand society’s needs better. To understand the craft of problem solving, one doesn’t need to move too far from the campus. On-campus problems, such as availability of water, power and communication, may be worked upon for a start. For instance, students can develop software programmes to automate administration processes within a campus. Interesting projects, such as rainwater harvesting or establishing wireless links between build-
people to access and navigate it without expensive servers and high bandwidth links—considering that both are rare in our country where one percent of the population uses the internet.
Liberal Dose of Arts Courses on liberal arts should be encouraged, as they prepare students to work with teams consisting of “different sorts of people” in a more globalised industry. To focus on usability, it is necessary that we introduce a course on “design”. Design used to be a part of the curriculum even a few decades ago. But, as there was a scarcity of teachers the course was eventually removed. Now, there is enough material available online and in books. Any interested faculty member can endeavour to teach it. Such a course will enhance the creative and innovative capabilities of students. A cardinal aspect of understanding the nittygritty of a trade-off is economics. Engineers need to understand business. Therefore, a basic course must be offered to them as a mandatory schedule. Solving layered problems often require under-
he only motive for learning is not problem solving—sometimes it is about understanding the fact that problems exist
ings are educative, challenging and productive at the same time.
Ground Reality The only motive for learning is not problem solving—sometimes it is about understanding the fact that problems exist. When a student works with a community outside the campus, she realises that an engineer’s job does not involve just technology; it involves people. An important part of an engineer’s job is to understand trade-offs and choose solutions with the best cost-benefit ratio that benefit the community. If you ask an intelligent student to design a website, she could probably use all the latest technology to design a superb one! In the real world, however, there will be resource constraints and that would be her challenge—to use the resources and create the best product. Her goal would be not to create a cutting-edge site, but one that allows maximum
standing of multiple disciplines. While it is not possible to understand several disciplines deeply in a few years, it is important that an engineer understands the language of other disciplines. It should be possible for a team consisting of people from different disciplines to work together to solve problems. To become a “truly global engineer or worker”, a student must be encouraged to study a minor stream with her major. (Example: a student of computer science can complete a course in electrical or mechanical engineering). Society sees its engineers as not just job-seekers, but creators, too. Thus, to be the productive individuals that the nation expects them to be, our engineers need to understand product design, economics and business. A long list of demands perhaps, but all these could make an engineer a global citizen. For those who are not interested in business, a flexible curriculum may pave the path to innovative research.
Dheeraj Sanghi Dr Sanghi is the former director of Laxmi Narayan Mittal Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur. He is a professor of computer science at IIT, Kanpur. Dr Sanghi has a BTech in computer science from IIT Kanpur and an MS and a PhD from University of Maryland, USA . He can be reached at dheeraj. email@example.com
July 2010 EDU TECH
BY BART NAGEL
Shankar S.Sastry, Dean, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
EDU TECHâ€ƒ July 2010
Face to Face
Face to Face COVER STORY
BY VINITA BELANI ILLUSTRATION ANOOP PC
Technical experts of the future will be a bit more than what they are today—the experts will be global, liberal, scientific minds, willing to co-ordinate across borders to solve the common societalsize problems: Or so believes one of the brightest minds of today, Shankar S. Sastry
hat do these Indian names—Shankar, Subra, Pradeep, Venky and Vijay— have in common? These desi men have made it big in videsh—all are deans in of some of the most prestigious US schools Bear with us as we elaborate—Subra Suresh is an IIT Madras graduate (class of 1977). Suresh, the Dean of School of Engineering, MIT, has been tapped by Barack Obama to head the National Science Foundation. Pradeep Khosla is an IIT Kharagpur graduate from the batch of 1990. He is the Dean of the School of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Venkatesh Naraynamurthy (a student of University
July 2010 EDU TECH
COVER STORY Face to Face
How would you position UC Berkeley’s engineering programme today?
SASTRY: Berkeley has consistently found a place in the top three ranks in both graduate and undergraduate engineering programmes in the US. Berkeley is in great company, as we have MIT and Stanford with us. It’s the individual departments, such as electrical engineering, computer sciences and civil and environmental engineering that have found a spot among the top-rated departments in the school.
What would be your comments on the state of engineering education in the world today.
SASTRY: It’s like getting a drink from a fire hydrant. There are a number of courses on technology—it is overwhelming! Despite the number of courses on
EDU TECH July 2010
FACT FILE DEAN SASTRY achelors degree from Indian B Institute of Technology, Bombay, 1977 on the President of India Gold W Medal, 1977 aster and PhD degrees from M University of California, Berkeley, 1979, 1980, 1981 ssistant Professor at Massachusetts A Institute of Technology, 1980-2 ssistant Professor, Associate A Professor, and Professor at University of California, Berkeley, 1983-present I BM Faculty Development Award, 1983-85 ational Science Foundation N Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1985 Eckman Award, 1990 Honorary MA from Harvard, 1994 IIT Distinguished Alumnus Award, 1999 ippon Electronics Corporation (NEC) N Distinguished Professorship in the College of Engineering and the Walter A. Haas School of Business, 2002- present. agazzini Award for Distinguished R Accomplishments in Teaching, 2005 ean, Engineering, UC Berkeley, July D 2007 till present onorary Doctorate from the Royal H Swedish Institute of Technology, 2007 ien Award for Academic Leadership, T 2010.
the offer, students are left hungry for more hands-on work. We need to understand that a high school student, who opts for engineering, is often the brightest mind of her class. But, such a student is not egged on towards research early enough—which could make them a more well-rounded person. Also, a more contemplative style of instruction with more open-ended questions and exercises would, I believe, sharpen the leadership and communication abilities of our students. We established the Fung Institute to inculcate these precise values in the students. In the future, I see more engineers holding CXO-level positions (CTO, COO, CEO and CIO) in companies—if only we teach them the broader context of technology. Currently, students pick up these skills some five or 10 years after their technical course gets over— only when they pursue an MBA or a PhD. However, I must point out that Silicon Valley is an anomaly in this regard.
Could you elaborate on the more ‘liberal’ ways that have been adopted at Berkeley?
SASTRY: Ten years ago, when I joined Berkeley after a stint at Darpa (he ran the information technology office there), I became convinced that an ‘outward-facing view’ was required in engineering sciences—especially keeping in mind our increasingly technology-dependent society. A mishmash of multidisciplines, I believed, was required to create an engineer of the future. I have always believed that a subject as engineering take leadership and set up multidisciplinary institutes that work towards solutions for society-scale challenges. So, we started Banatao Institute at Centre for Information Technology in the Interests of Society (Citris). We established the institute in 2001. I was its director between 2004 and 2007. I have been the centre director since 2007. The Blum Centre for Developing Economies focused on the use of technologies to alleviate poverty. The Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, established in 2010, was also set up keeping in mind the need for an allround engineer. I am its interim co-
BY PEG SKORPINSKI
of Delhi between 1958-1960), or “Dean Venky”, headed the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences between 1998 and 2008. Nitin Nohria (IIT Powai 1984 alumnus), is an engineer. But, he has broken new ground at the Harvard Business School—he is its first non-Caucasian dean. The west coast counterparts of these east coast notables, are just as illustrious. Vijay Dhir (a 1965 pass out of Punjab Engineering College and IIT’s 1969 alumni) has been the Dean of UCLA’s Samueli School of Engineering since 2003. Shankar S. Sastry (IIT Powai, 1977) is the final name on our list—and he is perhaps the best example. Since July 2007 Sastry has been the Dean of Engineering at UC Berkeley. It is him we seek out to explain if there is indeed a “trend” here. “Yes, it is becoming a bit of a trend, isn’t it?” muses Dean Sastry, as the list is read out to him. Though he desists to comment further, we realise that it is the men (or man) behind the trend that must be studied, before the trend is understood. So be it! Berkeley is a familiar ground for Sastry. He has a PhD from there, served as a faculty there and at MIT and Harvard. He is married to a Stanford and Berkeley professor, Claire Tomlin.
Face to Face COVER STORY director. Now there is the proposal for an Institute for Synthetic Biology.
How do you make a multidisciplinary institute effective?
SASTRY: It’s important for departments to have portals to other institutes of campus—by that I don’t mean just the physical and biological science departments, but social sciences, public health, business, law and humanities as well. New engineering buildings that have been built at Berkeley since 2001 do not have departments, but institutes. These have an engineering lead, but come equipped with a rich ecosystem of stakeholders from across the campus. Banatao Institute at Citris, or the Blum Centre for Developing Economies are good examples of such well-rounded schools.
Can you give us examples of how these multidisciplinary programmes work?
SASTRY: Some 2.1 billion people in the world do not have access to good sanitation. Around 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean water. Poor people often end up paying a higher price for basic services than the rich. Take Mumbai for instance—residents of Dharavi (Asia’s largest slum) pay three times as much for water than residents of Peddar Road, which is a posh area. A Dharavi resident also pays seven times as much for medicines and medical services than his Peddar Road counterpart. At UC Berkeley we have pioneered scalable approaches for UV tubes to purify water for millions of people in India at less than .04cc per gallon through Water Health International and with funds from ICICI. We pioneered the removal of arsenic from ground water at .05cc per gallon in Bangladesh and Bengal. The Indian Parliament conducted hearings because they were astounded at how inexpensive the solutions were! Another project— Haath Mein Sehat (HMS)—teaches sanitation in the Dharavi. Wireless solutions pioneered by our faculty and students are enabling Aravind Eye Clinic (India) to help villagers access tele-medicine and go for cataract examinations in 50 remote villages, in areas where there is
The message here is that engineering students need to be given a broader canvas—the ‘societal scale of
problems’—to work upon and solve
no electricity, or cellphone coverage, using an adaptation of 802.11 Wi Fi technology. To do all this, we needed to work across disciplines to figure out how technology can help people.
Clearly there is a philosophy behind this stratagem.
SASTRY: The message here is that engineering students need to be given a broader canvas—the “societal scale of problems”—to work upon and solve. They need to be challenged to think about concepts such as social, legal, economic, privacy, usability and marketing and blend it with technology development. I believe that this model of thought stimulates research at an early stage. It encourages more women and under-represented groups to come forth and study the interplay of technology and society. I truly believe that the 21st century is the time for the “citizen engineer”, to borrow a phrase coined by Greg Papadopoulos, former CTO of Sun Microsystems. To summarise, I believe that engineering education needs to have two bookends. At one end it requires early exposure to research and to how systems are put together. At the other bookend, a senior capstone design project combining economics, business, social and legal aspects of the technology need to be studied. It is also important to have a more flexible curriculum in between.
We have begun these steps at Berkeley.
Are other engineering schools following suit?
SASTRY: A number of engineering schools are fusing bio, info and nanotechnologies to study engineering. This is an important technology trend. However, it is important to study and teach this fusion in the context of the society. We at Berkeley, for instance, are collaborating with environment minister (of India) Jairam Ramesh to work on a carbon road map to guide investments and policies in technologies for sustainable growth in the great economies of India and China—without it stunting growth. This is an example of work relating to policy, investment and, of course, new photovoltaics, thermoelectrics and new battery technologies, etc.
It seems to me as if you are in favour of academic institutions working in close contact with corporate, governmental and societal systems. I know this is a hotly debated topic today.
SASTRY: Did you read Drew Faust’s views on the subject?(Sastry was referring to the Harvard President’s opinion piece in New York Times dated September 1, 2009, in which Faust decries the trend towards excessive practicality in universities.) Higher learning can offer individuals a depth of vision absent from July 2010 EDU TECH
COVER STORY Face to Face the myopic present. Human beings need meaning, understanding and perspective, and jobs. The question should not be whether we can afford to believe in such purposes as producers—of not just knowledge but also of doubt,—but if we can afford not to, argues Faust. She cites the recent financial melt down as a phenomenon that ‘could have benefited, or even avoided, by academics, who in their research, teaching and writing could have made greater effort to expose the patterns of risk and denial’. Should universities present a firmer counterweight to economic irresponsibility? Are universities become too captive to immediate and worldly purposes that they serve? Has the market model become the fundamental and defining identity of higher education—these are the questions that Faust asks. I believe that universities should not be removed from practical reality. The contemplative style and old stereotype of looking inwards is inappropriate. I feel that universities are not answerable enough. History shows that need and use inspire basic research and solutions. Today, Google and Microsoft are motivators of basic thought in our society. One has to look at Sastry’s professional career to understand that he lives his preachings. He has always believed in attacking the “grand societal scale problems”. If one tries to determine if his beliefs defined his career path, or if his professional experiences shaped his thought process then one is confronted with a chicken-and-egg scenario.
There is a need for early leadership opportunities, multidisciplinary approach and hands-on and researchbased approach to engineering
Sastry’s areas of research include diverse topics such as embedded and autonomous software for unmanned systems (especially aerial vehicles), computer vision, computation in novel substrates such as quantum computing, nonlinear and adaptive control, robotic tele-surgery, control of hybrid and embedded systems, and networked embedded systems and software. His involvement with cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection led to his appointment as the principal investigator in the NSF Science and Technology Center called the Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technologies or TRUST, spanning UC Berkeley, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, San Jose State University, Stanford and Vanderbilt. Sastry has held other key appointments before becoming Dean of the School of Engineering at UC Berkeley.
It is important for India to leapfrog to a model which is more consistent with a professional masters model—the citizen engineer model—for undergraduates. The country should focus
on an entrepreneurial culture
EDU TECH July 2010
These include the post of the director of Citris, the Centre for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society an interdisciplinary centre spanning across the UC campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Merced and Santa Cruz, He has been the faculty director at the Blum Centre for Developing Economies, a multi-campus centre spanning across UC campuses at Berkeley, Davis and San Francisco focused on developing technologybased solutions to alleviate global poverty. He has been the Chairman of UC Berkeley’s department of electrical engineering and computer sciences, Sastry held the post of the director of Information Technology Office at Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), director of UC Berkeley’s Electronics Research Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research laboratory and he has been a Gordon McKay Professor of engineering at Harvard and an assistant professor at MIT. Sastry sits on several advisory boards outside the US, especially in Asia, and is also a prolific writer who has 450 technical papers and nine books to his credit, with two more in the offing that he has co-authored.
You seems qualified to answer the question du jour—viz. how does one translate rhetoric into a new, effective road map for engineering education, in sync with market realities and demands?
SASTRY: I believe I have spoken about the need for early leadership opportuni-
Face to Face COVER STORY ties, multidisciplinary approach and hands-on and research-based approach to engineering education. In the past 20 years, US engineering schools have systematically de-emphasised a professional degree between bachelors and doctoral programmes— apart from a few exceptions. Industry has a huge need for students with a ‘professional degree’ with extra course work and experience, including
technical communications, rudiments of finance, marketing and ethnography (team building) beyond a basic bachelor’s degree. A professional masters degree needs to have a ‘T’ approach, with deep technical knowledge in one or more areas and breadth (the top of the ‘T’) in business, social and legal considerations. We are beginning to revitalise these professional masters at Berkeley. A critical part of this programmes is that
HANDS-ON LEARNING FAVOURED IN THE US Experts believe that the key to strengthening the US economy, and to competing globally, lies in fostering an innovative culture. And in educating America’s youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). According to the 2010 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, an annual survey that gauges Americans’ perceptions about invention and innovation, most teens are enthusiastic about the subjects, with 77 percent interested in pursuing a STEM career.
Hands-on Learning Approach Needed The index revealed that hands-on activities outside the classroom is one of the most effective ways to engage the youth between 12 years and 17 years. Teens listed activities such as field trips to places where they can learn about STEM (66 percent) and access to places outside the classroom where they can build things and conduct experiments (53 percent), as the “best” ways to get them interested in these subjects. Highlighting upon the need for non-traditional learning, regardless of setting, two-thirds of teens chose hands-on individual projects and hands-on group projects as types of classroom-based educational methods that they enjoy most. These findings align with recent reported trends on an increasing interest in tinkering and hands-on work.
Power of Teachers, Mentors in STEM Education The survey also found that while in the classroom, educators play a powerful role in exciting teens about STEM—more than half of teens (55 percent) are more interested in STEM simply by having teachers who enjoy the subjects they teach. The 2009 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index also found that mentorship is important to teens’ motivations; 43 percent said that role models in STEM fields would increase their interest in learning about these areas. An overwhelming number of respondents wish they knew more about STEM in order to create or invent something (85 percent); however, a majority were discouraged from pursuing STEM professions due to a lack of understanding of the subjects, or what people in these fields do, and not knowing anyone who works in these fields (51 percent). In addition, with less than one-fifth of respondents feeling scientists contribute most to society’s well-being, and even fewer selecting engineers (5 percent), many teens may lack a full understanding of the societal impact that STEM professionals have, further highlighting the need for teachers and mentors in these areas.
Fostering Needs of Future Innovators The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative is one way that teens gain direct access to handson learning and STEM professionals. InvenTeams comprise teams of high-school students, teachers and mentors, who receive grants up to US$10,000 (each) to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.
such degrees are much more ‘serviceoriented’ than the doctoral programmes. Some 75 percent of the non scholarshipholding graduate students are supported by the faculty in their research or teaching responsibilities.
Could you define a futuristic road map for India’s ‘emerging’ education sector and comment on it’s applicability to other nations?
SASTRY: For now I believe that too many people are focused on creating a new Stanford, MIT, or Berkeley, in India. I think it is important for India, and other developing nations like it, to leapfrog to a model which is more consistent with a professional masters model—the citizen engineer model—for undergraduates. The countries should focus on the establishment of an entrepreneurial culture in their graduate schools. Having said this, these changes won’t happen overnight, nor should they happen in the new deemed universities, or in the established blue chip institutions. The change needs to happen across the board. The government, of course, will play a role in this, but excessive centralised control, in my opinion, will prove to be counter productive to the development of local cultures and local specialisations based on the needs of local communities and industry sectors. Singapore began such a process some time ago through the use of a National Research Foundation (NRF). Their process has much to recommend for it.
One last thought—where do you find the energy and conviction to do everything that you do?
SASTRY: I celebrate and draw from my Indian and Asian roots. I concentrate upon the ethic that I got as my heritage from my ancestors. This foundation grants me an appreciation for patience, politeness, for long-term solutions to problems and respect for elders’ contribution. I have striven to establish links throughout South Asia and Pacific Rim, with special attention to India, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan and Korea. July 2010 EDU TECH
Times Why is hard-core engineering losing out to all the other careers? EDU takes an indepth look
BY SMITA POLITE ILLUSTRATION ANOOP PC 18
EDU TECHâ€ƒ July 2010
Academics COVER STORY
f you were born anytime after 1950, and if you were good at mathematics, chances were that your parents asked you to “consider” engineering as a career, at least once. Like most teenagers you may have agreed to “try it out”. After all, there was, and still is, a certain academic elitism associated with the discipline. Or, your parents could have convinced you that it was the “best way to a job”. Students, who buckle under parental pressure or lack of awareness regarding options, end up in these engineering colleges by chance, and not by choice. Once in the technical school, students barely scrape through exams, as colleges struggle to motivate them. During these four years of training, however, it’s up to the institution to turn students’ favour to engineering. But, are our institutions doing enough to ensure this? Apparently not. Apart from the high-paying software jobs, engineering as a career is not a favoured choice among graduates. In 1947 there were 36 institutions with a student intake of 2,500 for undergraduate engineering education. The number rose to more than 1,600 institutions in 2008, with a student intake of around 6 lakh. However, the irony is that fewer students are opting for hard-core engineering courses and jobs today.
Show Me The Money “Students don’t opt for engineering because they want to become engineers. They do it because this degree gives them a reasonable amount of flexibility
“Cross-disciplinary approach is the way to help those who fail to get their choice subject” —K.C. PATRA Dean (AR), Professor, NIT, Rourkela
“To attract a great faculty, the salary needs to be attractive. The pay may have improved, but is still far from desirable” —D.P. KOTHARI Vice Chancellor, VIT University, Vellore
to take up management, consulting, or even finance jobs, and earn big money,” says Anuj Agarwal who passed out from RV College of Engineering, Bengaluru, in 2004. “Only 10 batchmates of mine, out of 700, opted for a profession that involved hard-core engineering. Most opted for the software industry, or like me, got into managerial roles,” he adds. “Better pay packages in software and consulting is the main reason for this fading interest in hard-core engineering,” believes Dr D.P. Kothari, Vice Chancellor, VIT University. After all, today the real deal is information technology—and no student wishes to miss the IT bus. Moreover, India’s policies in the past decades have put all its eggs in the single basket of IT and software development. “Design and manufacturing, the two main purposes of engineering, have been sidelined. Over 80 percent of engineering programmes and students in our institutions are in IT and ITrelated programmes. Those in other disciplines migrate to software. With-
out a balanced national policy hardcore engineering will continue to languish,” points out former director, IIT Kanpur, R.C. Malhotra. However, software is not the only villain responsible for the current situation—even students of computer science are known to opt for lucrative consulting jobs after college. The issue is deeper and darker and there are several forces that have created a situation where we have a surplus of engineering graduates, and yet, not enough engineers.
Flaws In The System “In the past it was the engineers who became the CEOs. Now it’s the finance guys or management honchos. Anyone with high aspirations would not want to continue with engineering. It’s only students who follow their heart and are not affected by societal pressure who opt for it,” says Siddharth Ranjan, an IIT Delhi 2001 pass-out, who went on to do an MBA with Temple University, Philadelphia. He is a manager now. Besides changes in the corporatesocietal structure, that might be difficult to reverse in the future, academics point out that there are other issues equally responsible for the current state of affairs. CURRICULUM: The fast pace with which technology keeps changing is difficult to keep up in curriculum reviews. However, such reviews are necessary. While IITs have reviews every 10 years, institutions affiliated to AICTE are dependent on the statutory body for the reviews. “Lack of academJuly 2010 EDU TECH
COVER STORY Academics
“SOCIETY SHAPES TECHNOLOGY” R.C. Malhotra, Former Director, IIT Kanpur, talks to EDU about re-engineering education Do you feel that engineering curriculum in Indian institutions should be changed? There is a need to adopt a flexible framework that incorporates emerging changes in the discipline. This, in turn, calls for introduction of a credit system in education that enables students to determine their mix of courses. Furthermore, a comprehensive system of assessment of student-academic performance, by instructors, needs to be introduced. The teaching-learning process needs to be revamped. More individual study courses and project-based courses, which hone creativity, need to be introduced. Generic skills for the world of work—problem-solving, spoken and written communication skills—provided by cross-curricular inputs, and personality development and leadership skills honed through co-curricular inputs have to find a place.
Is early exposure to research important? Yes, research orientation is a must! I believe the most important part of education is to develop the capacity for critical thinking, stimulate analysis and encourage the question ‘why’. Hallmark of college education is to teach a student to ask a question. Research and project-based courses provide this input.
R.C. MALHOTRA Former Director, IIT Kanpur
How can one integrate a more hands-on approach in this field? Make design the focus of education. Courses must be project-based with possibly one-third of the focus on the project. Start innovation centres in institutions with the faculty acting as mentors. Introduce independent study courses. Make six months of industry internship mandatory.
Do you think that the cross-disciplinary approach will help inspire innovation? Most 21st century problems are generally intractable to single-discipline solutions. They require inputs from a range of disciplines. Humanities must be given importance—maybe as much as 15 percent of the curriculum. Clearly society shapes technology. Humanities and social sciences must be crucial inputs.
Do you think industry-academia interactions can help make the situation better? Are there any examples we can present? Without demand for technology, the research leading to supply of technology by our educational institutions would not be there. BITS, Pilani has adopted a Practice School approach through collaboration with industry for hands on inputs for their students. IITs and IIsc. have undertaken several mission oriented technology development projects in collaboration with industry.
EDU TECH July 2010
ic autonomy, which implies that all affiliating institutions have to adopt a common curriculum framed by a university, minus faculty nod, has to be jettisoned. India needs a variety of engineers—practitioners, managers, and researchers. They cannot be created from a common mould,” points out Malhotra. Engineering entrance exams do not necessarily test a student’s aptitude. Rank in this exam binds a student to a stream. For instance, a student who has interest in electrical engineering might end up studying civil engineering if she does not perform well on the day of the tests. In such a case, a student ends up hating the system, and feels uninspired to take any interest in her course. If the same student is given the option to choose electrical engineering as one of her minors, that could keep the magic alive. “Cross-disciplinary approach is the way to help those who fail to get their choice subject,” admits K.C. Patra, dean (AR) and professor of civil engineering, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela (Orissa). Courses such as humanities and social sciences (HSS) should also find a place in the syllabus. There is a rising belief that exposure to HSS will make students aware about the world. That, it may motivate them to innovate. As Dr Ashok Jhunjhunwala, professor, department of electrical engineering, IIT Madras, points out, “A youth of 17 needs to grow up. Courses in humanities is a way to help them grow.” To make students aware of the needs of the society, students should be asked to move out from the campus and get involved in helping communities. However, K. Muralidhar, dean, Research and development, IIT Kanpur, says, “Inter and multidisciplinary approaches are preached, but never practised. The problem is the lack of facilities and inadequate weightage (for such activities) in determining the overall academic performance (grades) of the students.” FACULTY: Shortage of quality faculty is an issue that is becoming bigger by the day in all disciplines. And, in engineering it is even more acute. A 2007
Academics COVER STORY
RISE OF THE TECHNO GRADUATES
Private institutions are fuelling the growth in the number of engineering graduates 2,50,000
2,00,000 1,50,000 1,00,000 50,000 0 1947
Year Total Output of Engineering Graduates 1947-2006 SOURCE: ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN INDIA—BY RANGAN BANERJEE AND VINAYAK P.MULEY
report—Engineering Education In India —by Rangan Banerjee and Vinayak P.Muley said, “The number of engineering doctorates awarded in India each year is about 1,000. This is less than 1 percent of the total engineering graduate degrees awarded each year.” Interestingly, according to this report, in 1995, 1,204 Indian students got their science and engineering doctorates in the US. Most engineering students interested in higher studies travel overseas for doctorates—because there is a lack of quality faculty here. Then, they settle down as faculty outside India, and the vicious cycle continues. “Shortage of teachers leads to demotivation,” believes professor Patra of NIT, Rourkela. There is such a pressure as far as teaching resource is concerned, that often teachers are asked to teach subjects in which they have no specialisation. This is especially common in Tier-II and Tier-III colleges. “To attract great faculty, the salary needs to be attractive. After the VIth Pay Commission recommendations, the situation may have improved to an extent, but it is still far from desirable,” says D.P. Kothari. HANDS ON TRAINING: S.S. Prabhu,
professor of electrical engineering, in 2000 that in terms of time spent, lectures form 56.3 percent of the curriculum, whereas, considering relative weightage of time spent, lectures form 72 percent of the curriculum and laboratory only 12.2 percent. The situation has not changed much today. “Inadequate hands-on training is a major weakness in all institutes, including ours,” admits Muralidhar. He believes that tinkering and innovation labs, and workshops, that remain open 24/7 require financial resources and manpower—a scarcity in the country. Some believe institutions should consider setting up programmes such as the “Practice School” in BITS Pilani where students and faculty get involved with professional work (from the industry) for 7.5 months. Students should also be egged on to research more. Programmes such as “Summer Undergraduate Research Grant for Excellence”, run by IIT Kanpur, encourages undergraduates from all IITs, and other schools, take up focused projects during summer. Students from India visit overseas participating-institutions, while their foreign counterparts come to India.
INDUSTRY LINKAGES: New, cuttingedge, technological trends, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and ICT, need co-operation from the industry to be treated well. “Schools should maintain close relationship with the industry. This will ensure that an engineering student receives the opportunity to work on industry projects. Recently, seven engineering colleges from Bengaluru and Hyderabad collaborated to prepare a payload for ISRO’s RH200 rocket space launch,” says Madan Lal, president of Institution of Engineers (India). Collaborating with the industry also helps in getting grants for projects. A small condition-free grant from Boeing, creation of a design lab by Autodesk has helped IIT Kanpur. “Ideally, industry should place resources at the industry and students’ disposal. Because the students are the future workers. This, however, has not happened. Students have not shown keenness to join the industry since it is hard work,” says Muralidhar.
Some Sunshine Efforts to make engineering exciting will not help if students do not relax—and in most of the institutes they are constantly required to perform. Three Idiots was a classic comment on engineering education. However, film was based on the story of students at the IITs—which admits just 1 percent of graduates. The plight of the majority (76 percent), from private colleges, will perhaps take another movie to be explained. Nevertheless, there is a single issue that ails them all. Jhunjhunwala says, “We try to teach too much. We feel that the knowledge is required—it may be, but it needn’t be fed at the undergraduate level itself. Key is to teach less, and do it well.” He also blames engineering courses for become too “uni-dimensional”. Connecting with students at their level is a better way to keep them interested rather than bombarding them with information. A stress-free, focused course could well be the beginning of getting engineering out of hard times. (Names of students in the story have been changed on request) July 2010 EDU TECH
Retraining can help faculty keep up with innovations, improve skills & create better institutions BY PARUL GUPTA
POINTS TO PONDER IN INDIA there are 0.73 million teachers available to train 19.2 million students involved in higher education and vocational training. OUR COUNTRY has the highest student to teacher ratio—26:1—whereas the reccommended ratio is 15:1
EDU TECH July 2010
rom June 21, Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) of Anna University will host a five-day faculty empowerment programme—Mission 10x. It will be organised by Wipro Technologies at the university’s Chennai campus. Through the project, MIT plans to train faculty in four skill sets: analytical, verbal, interpersonal and intrapersonal. However, not many higher education institutes (HEIs) have the luxury of conducting such programmes.
Grappling With The Odds
McKinsey report indicates that a mere 25 percent of students from professional programmes such as engineering, architecture and medical sciences—subjects that only a dismal 20 percent of overall students in India opt for—make it to the job market. Compare this to the 81 percent in the US. In India, it seems, there is a clear gap between “teaching standards” and “industry needs”. Ashank Desai, chairman of Mastek and former chairman of PanIIT (an association of the alumni from seven IITs), points out that while courses are being revamped, faculty capabilities remain the same. Says Anand Venkataraman, lead consultant of ICRA Management and Consulting Services Limited (IMaCS), a firm identifying skill gaps in the education sector, “India will require 8.6 million trainers in the next 14 years— which means that the country will need 500,000 teachers (for primary, higher education and vocational training) annually. Government estimates state that at present, there are 0.73 million teachers available to train 19.2 million students in higher education and technical training put together. This means that our country has one of the highest student-teacher ratio at 26:1, higher than the recommended norm of 15:1.” The situation is likely to worsen with the student enrolment slated to increase with a CAGR of 6.2 percent and that of faculty recruitment growing by just 2.28 percent (FICCI-E&Y report on higher education). Add to this, the Centre plans to launch 80 more universities, engineering and management schools, and research institutes, and more than 350 colleges to increase the current gross enrolment ratio (GER) of 11 percent to 15 percent by 2012. The expansion blueprints of private players (Manipal and Amity) and foreign players (once the foreign education bill is cleared) are likely to make faculty the most sought-after commodity.
“IF A TEACHER IS PASSIONATE, HE WILL UPGRADE HIMSELF” —SATISH KALRA Dean, Corporate Affairs, IMI Delhi
But, does the faculty have the time to train and empower itself, especially in a scenario in which there are no designated working hours, promotion norms or monetary benefits for them? It would be unfair to put the blame (of poorquality faculty) squarely on lack of efforts from the faculty’s side. The problem appears critical with both industry and academia fighting for the best share from an already-scarce talent pool. Shashi Gulhati, retired professor of IIT Delhi and former CEO of Educational Consultants India Ltd (EdCIL), rues that the best is lapped up by the industry. A recent EDGE report states that an engineering graduate gets around 2.5 times the salary of a faculty member—add to that the “notfor-profit” tag that the education sector carries. While 5 to 10 percent of higher education institutions are able to attract the best, the bottom 50 are forced to absorb students as faculty. Professor Gulhati adds, “These graduates are not interested in teaching. How can we expect them to be good?” Add to that, faculty is usually overloaded and has little time to concentrate on self—upgrade through research. The FICCI-Ernst&Young (E&Y) report on teachers revealed that 68 percent of them complained it was “difficult” to manage research and the teaching schedule. Thus, half of them abstained from any form of research. The isolated existence of research institutes, such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), also limits cross-pollination of ideas—between government laboratories, Indian higher education institutions and industry. In comparison, international R&D centres are co-located with universities—research staff in these centres actively involve themselves in teaching postgraduates and undergraduates. Lack of transparent government regulations related to faculty development is also one of the reasons behind poor faculty in India. Not much is being done on the ground to train teachers. Take the case of the Hyderabad-based Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI). Its basic design and structure is now under the radar. It also suffers from the unavailability of suitably-qualified faculty to train directors, principals and professors. “While the school’s concept is strong, its design is not. Absence of funds and staff has turned training into a ritual,” believes professor M. Mukhopadhyay, former director of National University of July 2010 EDU TECH
Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA). In the private sector, Manipal, Amity and Sharda conduct workshops and seminars for faculty, and sponsor their doctorates. “We have entered into tie-ups In March 2006, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) was launched with a with foreign institutes for facultymandate to build a pool of qualified public health professionals—a resource which exchange programmes. We send our is limited in India. The step stemmed from the realisation that education and health professors to off-shore campuses to give were the two basics that needed to be cared for, if India had to transition for the them a bit of an international exposure,” better. Professor Sanjay Zodpey, director of public health education, PHFI, says, Chancellor, Amity University, Atul Chau“We know that IITs and IIMs are famous because of the quality of its faculty. We han, says. On the other hand, “Almost 80 have also decided that building faculty, both in terms of quality percent of smaller private and quantity, should be our first step towards creating Indian education institutions conInstitutes of Public Health.” duct programmes merely PHFI has already opened three IIPHs at New Delhi, Gandhifor documentation purposnagar and Hyderabad. Currently, these offer PG diploma proes. Since, it is necessary for grammes in public health management, health economics, accreditation as per AICTE/ health financing and policy, bio-statistics and data management AIEEE norms,” confides and clinical research. The fourth institution is coming up in BhuPramod Joshi, co-founder baneswar. and director of The WinBuilding these institutes was a challenge for which the organining Mantra, a Noida consation launched its future faculty programme (FFP). Over 40 sulting firm. candidates were selected through a competitive multistaged Under the Sixth Pay Comscreening process and sent to 30 schools in the US, the UK, mission recommendations, Europe, Canada and Australia. Following the completion of their teachers of centrally-aided courses, the candidates returned to teach at PHFI institutes. institutions like IITs, IIMs In its second-phase of faculty development programme, PHFI and NITs were to be granted will join hands with a consortium of 12 UK institutions and uniRs 0.1 million per annum, Candidates are selected through versities (including Cambridge, London School of Hygiene & for three years, for selfcompetitive multistaged screening Tropical Medicine, University College of London, and University processes development. The money of Bristol) for training. The PHFI was recently awarded a capacwas for research, conferencity-building grant from Wellcome Trust, a global charity supportes and workshops—internaing research, training and capacity-building initiatives in the tional and national. However, this benehealth sector of developing countries. Through this five-year programme, PHFI will fit does not seem to be flowing down to enhance teaching and research skills of 78 faculty by providing opportunities for most of the UGC-aided and state univergraduate and doctoral studies, collaborative research and fellowships, and faculty sities. “Funds are earmarked for either exchanges. equipment or construction. A small proIn addition, the PHFI also participated in the T-5 (Teaching the Teacher to Teach) portion goes to the faculty,” says Taruna programme of Boston University and collaborated with Nossal Institute of Australia Jain, head, electrical department at Bho(NIA). NIA is slated to help design the institutes’ syllabus. It will also give expert tips pal’s Barkatullah University’s Institute on how to teach and evaluate these programmes. The institute also organises inof Technology. Even for this small porhouse faculty development programmes by inviting senior national and internation, a faculty member has to make multional teachers, professor Zodpey informs. tiple rounds to the concerned departments, she complains. HEIs is insignificant compared to funding As for progress—there are no transinteractive and relevant. “But how many of received by leading institutes overseas. For parent career advancement guidelines our faculty learn these applications?” asks example, in 2008, R&D projects in India got provided to the faculty. ICT consultant Anand Chawla. Rs 11.68 billion—5 percent of Harvard’s Rs Tripta Thakur, associate professor, depart256.5 billion budget for research, states a ment of electrical engineering, Maulana s the realisation of the FICCI-E&Y report. Finally, not many faculty Azad National Institute of Technology importance of faculty develmembers are inclined to inculcate technol(MANIT), who has been on assignments opment for building worldogy to expand their classrooms. For examabroad, feels that such trips expose the facclass institutions sinks in, ple, the use of an interactive whiteboard ulty to “benchmarks” in research. Extramuseveral government and non-governenables a teacher to make her class more ral support granted by Indian panels to
THE NEED FOR BUILDING A FACULTY POOL
What Is Changing?
EDU TECH July 2010
ment organisations are coming forward to meet the challenge. Take the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) for instance. It recently conducted a workshop on cutting-edge technology in analytical marketing tools. The talk was conducted by distinguished professor of management science—Gary Lilien—from Pennsylvania State University, US. The workshop was attended by professors from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), BITS Pilani, IIM (Lucknow) and Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). ISB undertakes similar initiatives to expose all faculty to newer pedigrees, methods and tools in business education. It also grants monetary support (worth Rs 3 lakh) annually to attend conferences, and an additional incentive of Rs 2 lakh in case a paper gets selected for an international conference. “Besides being researchers, we want our faculty to be excellent teachers. Hence we send them for training to International Teachers’ Programme (faculty-development programme conducted by a group of 10 business schools located in Europe and US) and the Global Colloquium on Participant-Centered Learning (a two-session programme, developed by Harvard Business School’s senior faculty, to train teachers in participant-centered learning),” says Sanjay Kallapur, senior associate dean (faculty and research) at ISB. ISB is not alone. PanIIT roped in the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, to set up an Indo-US Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE) in order to bridge the gap between employability skills of tech grads and industry needs.
“We have entered into tieups with foreign institutes for faculty-exchange programmes. We send our professors to off-shore campuses to give them international exposure” —ATUL CHAUHAN Chancellor, Amity University
By training over 2,000 faculty members in the past two years, IUCEE has already improved the lives of 20,000 students. It intends to train 60,000 engineering faculty by 2013 through regional training centres. Mission 10X is a similar initiative by Wipro targeted to train 10,000 faculty members by this year-end. Chief executive officer of Azim Premji Foundation Dileep Ranjekar believes that the power equation between teachers and students has changed considerably. Teachers need to connect with students—hence pedagogical skills have become important. The upcoming Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, to be launched in 2011, aims to create educa-
PANIIT ROPED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, LOWELL, TO SET UP AN INDO-US COLLABORATION FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION
tion catalysts, Ranjekar shares. Apart from launching programmes, the university will engage in the transformation of existing talent through continuous development programmes. The Centre, which is aware of the problem, is launching Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP)—a World Bank-assisted Project—to improve quality of technical education in the country and bring it at a par with the best in the world. TEQIP Phase-I (March 2003-2009) covered 127 institutions in 13 states with an allocation of Rs 13.4 billion, while the second phase (2010-2013) plans to cover 200 colleges and comes with an aid of Rs 24.3 billion. “While the first phase focused on improving facilities and establishing networks between institutions, the second phase will include development in managerial and pedagogical skills of the faculty,” disclosed a senior government official. The initiative is bearing results. Take the National Institute of Technology, Trichy (NITT), which is the lead institution for TEQIP and was allocated Rs 200 million, as an example. The institute used up almost 50 percent of its funds to purchase equipment. But, a substantial amount was set aside for faculty training. As a part of its larger initiative, the institute has selected 86 faculty members, based on parameters such as research papers, seniority, educational background and institution and proposals. The members underwent training and conducted collaborative research for a period of a month in Singapore, USA, South Korea, UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and France. Also, 48 professors from the overseas were invited to the institute. They conducted lectures, suggested ways to improve research facilities and spent a considerable time with scholars and faculty. Besides, the institute has regular coaching and mentoring schemes for its younger faculty. Intra-department research groups have been formed and weekly meetings take place to share best practices in fields. “The initiatives have led to a remarkable growth and have July 2010 EDU TECH
sponsored-research projects and publications,” NITT Director M Chidambaram said. He added that funds have been hiked from Rs 30 to Rs 50 million (2006) to Rs 220 million in 2009—10. As far as the number of projects funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) this year, NITT leads the group among all NITs. Its faculty is also upbeat because research publications have almost tripled. And, students’ feedback has improved tremendously. The Centre is now planning to put more autonomy in the hands of higher education institutes, so that they can build their revenue streams, develop and remunerate faculty, thereby promoting research. A FICCI-E&Y report suggests that institutes should be encouraged to identify and develop innovative sources of income (other than fees and grants), such as monetisation of IP (research patents, licences), organising seminars, public events and consulting. The report also suggests that the government should set up model practices, incentivise faculty and institutes through revenue sharing and higher grants, respectively, for better performance. These measures, the report adds, will not only lead to skill upgrade of existing faculty, but will attract more people to join the profession. According to M. Sairam, head (process consulting), IMaCS, the realisation of the need for faculty retraining and reskilling is gaining ground. The government, industry and institutions are now working hand-in-hand to attain the objective. Several government and private colleges are tying up with international colleges for faculty exchange programmes (IIM, Ahmedabad, with Darden Business School, ISB with Kellogg School of Management and Wharton Business School).
he task for retraining and reskilling is not easy. It requires vision, planning and concentrated effort to prepare a talent pool. “After the completion of basic qualification, it takes five
EDU TECH July 2010
Understand The World. Expand Your World The latest Financial Times listing puts INSEAD at the fifth spot among all world institutes. Isabelle Jauny, director (faculty administration), INSEAD, talks to EDU on the need for faculty development. Why do you think faculty development is necessary? Faculty development is indispensable throughout a teacher’s career. Not only must a member of the faculty adjust to classroom changes—new programmes and participants—but she has to justify her reputation by acting as a bridge between the university and the business community. At INSEAD, faculty development includes internal workshops (organised twice a month), in which members exchange best practices. These are then translated into classroom teaching—our teachers often use simulations, games, or field trips, to make their classes effective. For newly-hired faculty, we have developed a specific executive education programme called the Leading Management Education. There is also a mentoring programme.
ISABELLE JAUNY, Director, Faculty Administration, INSEAD
What is your prescription for Indian institutes, universities?
Faculty, especially in Indian business schools, desperately need global exposure. If India has to be put on the global academic map, then academic conferences, international exposure and connectivity should be encouraged more in the institutions. The Indian diaspora should be put to use for funds. If state-of-the-art facilities are provided, faculty reputation is strong, research environment is positive, incentives are provided and monetary compensation is benchmarked with international salaries, there should be no problem.
Do you think such programmes should be restricted to technological streams only? Streams under social sciences are also evolving rapidly. The study of consumer behavior, or behavioural psychology, is increasingly relying on the use of equipment, tools and models to produce meaningful results. At INSEAD, most participants opting for social sciences come from a professional background. They are already “affected” by technology; they are used to working in virtual teams. Our faculty has to integrate all these changes while teaching and research. Thus, teachers of all streams need to undergo frequent training to be synchronised to the new breed of students—that also includes professionals.
How much does INSEAD invest in faculty? Faculty is our most valuable resource. Once a member of faculty joins us, there needs to be a continuous investment to guarantee retention. An estimate of this investment is around 4,000 pounds per faculty per year.
more years to achieve the required maturity level. If we need to have a particular number of faculty, planning should be to attain thrice that number,” Sairam says. USA is the world leader in research. The enabling environment for academic research there is supported by the government and industry. In Jordan, promotions are entirely dependent upon research activity and record. The Chinese government promotes collaborations between industry and academia through laws on technology development, transfer and commercialisation, while around 40 percent of research conducted in universities is funded by private companies. The establishment of Industry University Co-operation Foundation (IUCF), South Korea, has helped boost patents and technology transfers from 58 (2001) to 133 in 2003. Sairam, however, cautions that international best practices cannot be blindly copied. India, because of its heterogeneous population and skill requirements, may have different needs. “While we can learn from them, we have to suitably modify them to adapt to our socioeconomic environment,” he adds. According to Desai of Mastek, institutions should be run like efficient organisations with autonomy (academic, administrative and financial), responsibility, authority and accountability. A sense of entrepreneurship should be inculcated by making the faculty accountable for funds. Alumni funds should be used to create a corpus to meet administrative and faculty costs. Sairam points out that there is the need to create an ecosystem that will
“Besides being researchers, we want our faculty to be excellent teachers. We send them for training to International Teachers’ Programme conducted by 10 schools across US” —SANJAY KALLAPUR, Senior Associate Dean, Faculty and Reserch, ISB, Hyderabad
help the faculty learn continuously from the market, peer groups and environments, with help of technology. He says that exposure should be given to the faculty in terms of exchange programmes, interactions with different regions and continuous interaction with the industry. These will expose the faculty not only to advancements and changes in their own subjects, but also in other fields. These will, in turn, help boost experienced learning, requisite information gathering and networking across subjects, industries and regions. This knowledge then should be dispersed to other institutes with the help of technology interface. “This would be a con-
IT HAS TO BE LEVERAGED TO GROOM FACULTY. E-LEARNING PLATFORMS HAVE TO BE CREATED TO TRAIN FACULTY ACROSS THE COUNTRY
sistent and cost-saving programme,” Sairam says. Joshi of The Winning Mantra assures that teachers need to be assured that there is a bright future awaiting them, especially with the foreign universities coming in. That they, too, can become “hot property” if they develop their profile and skills. He prescribes a set of mantras: The formation of a high-profile committee (or pool) of professors of IITs and IIMs, department of education and government. The committee should organise sensitisation programmes for HEIs and teach them how to manage an institution. Lessons would include quality control, students’ employability and industry collaboration. Bringing in retired professors who have the teaching experience of 40 years and more. Inculcating NRIs, who may wish to come back to their country. These people, experts in their fields with international exposure, may be empanelled to teach about the latest international trends. Industry people can be given tax breaks, or benchmarks may be set, to bring them into the folds of the education sector. IT has to be leveraged to groom faculty. e-learning platforms have to be created to train faculty across the country. In the US, faculty is a strong academic enterprise. Money is an incentive that is generously granted to the faculty to create a competitive environment. That ensures that papers are presented or published frequently, automatically leading to higher output. Glorifying the profession, offering incentives, encouraging the faculty to take up consultancy projects for the industry and making salaries compatible with international standards may help make the profession a lucrative one. However, upgrade will rest in the hands of the faculty only. As the dean (corporate affairs) of the International Management Institute, professor Satish Kalra, points out, “If a teacher is passionate about his profession, he will upgrade himself. You can only take the horse to water, but cannot make him drink till he himself wants to.” Amen to that! July 2010 EDU TECH
Good-For-Profit Higher Education
apil Sibal was quoted in the Indian Express (dated July 29, 2009) as saying “the government’s policy is to not allow profit-making institutions in India to flourish in the field of education, because education is a charitable exercise”—higher education has always been viewed by most government policymakers in India as a not-forprofit sector. There are many important people who belong to this school of thought—it’s basic belief being that it is “evil to allow for-profit orientation” in the higher education sector. And that, formal education should remain a not-for-profit activity. I, however, beg to differ. My argument would be that the current “notfor-profit” status of higher education institutions is artificial. Moreover, the imposed image is detrimental to the overall improvement of quality, competitiveness and professionalisation of higher education in our country. Indian politics, and the government policymakers, may not be ready for profitable higher education as of now, but by not creating an environment that is conducive to such change, they will only be supporting the cancerous growth of ill-equipped not-for-profit institutions. (By illequipped I mean institutions that are not ready to propel the Indian youth to the 21st century.)
EDU TECH July 2010
Reasons For Change There are reasons why I believe that for-profit is not necessarily the dirty word that it is being made out to be: n Massive need for investments to expand: India requires an impressive amount of investment to achieve the goal of doubling its Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) from the measly 12 percent to 25 percent by the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2017). The additional investment requirement of Rs 350,000 crore cannot be met through philanthropy, or government grants, alone. Even the government acknowledges that 70 percent of this capital will come from private investments. However, despite acknowledging the need for private investments, it does not create an enabling environment through which the investments can come in. With the current policy framework (of not allowing for-profit activity), investors from India and overseas remain hesitant to engage with the education sector, with its widespread corruption and its lack of transparency for scalable investment, or expansion. n Menace of pseudo not-for-profits: The reality is that the expansion of higher education was led by private sector. And that several firms are engaged in “pseudo” not-for-profit activities. This means
that profit is still being made and enjoyed by the promoters—but through unethical financial engineering. This has led to stunting of professionalisation of higher education and acceptance of financial manipulations as a norm in private higher education sector. This leads to the government losing revenue, because not-for-profit entities don’t pay taxes. nNot-for-profit status does not imply quality: There are many “not-for-profit” institutions which provide poor quality of education, as is evident from the rate of unemployability and skill gaps among students from these institutions. While not-forprofit status should not be a handicap for delivering quality, it has become one—because of the inability to effectively raise capital for improvement and expansion. A for-profit institution with a sound financial model will be able to tap sources of capital legitimately. Thereby, it will be able to consistently improve quality and competitiveness.
Good-For-Profit Institutions Policymakers need to enable for-profit higher education in India with a clear expectation of
quality to remain competitive. nStart with high priority sector or neglected fields: India has ample engineering and management schools, while several other fields, including liberal arts, agriculture and sciences, lag behind in terms of investment and quality. Likewise, vocational education sector is largely ignored. Government may allow for-profit in selected high priority fields before allowing more popular professional fields. n Allow established business houses first: Large business houses with established credentials and brand equity can be trusted to work in the interest of students. These MNCs will have more at stake in terms of brand names when compared to the money they could make from the (higher education) venture. Thus, select number of large corporate houses can be allowed to start with for-profit higher education ventures first. nLearn from other countries: US has one of the most advanced for-profit higher education systems in the world with nearly 1.3 million students enrolled in more than 3,000 for-profit post-secondary institutions. India could learn about the
for-profit institution will be able to tap resources legitimately. Thereby, they will be able to improve quality faster
professionalism and transparency. It is important to be cautious with how for-profit players engage with higher education sector. Since notfor-profit status does not imply quality, likewise, for-profit does not ensure efficiency. For-profit institutions may also cheat or fail. The opportunity cost for a student, enrolled in a failing institution or misled by it, is high. Given the context and need of Indian higher education, the government should be open to for-profit higher education model, but with caution and commitment to quality. But how? n Create high expectations of transparency: This applies for the vast milieu of Indian higher education in general. But, the government can create higher requirements for transparency and data provision from the for-profit higher education institutions. This norm will ensure that students have ample information before taking a decision. And, it will also ensure that institutions deliver
opportunities and challenges faced by global forprofit higher education and design a robust policy relevant to India. nDevelop a trusted profession of higher education: Institutions need to come together to create selfimposed standards of quality and inspire confidence among students and policymakers. They have to consistently show that profits flow from student outcomes and satisfaction, and not from poor quality or compromise of ethics. To sum up, the for-profit higher education sector in India is a necessity. It has to operate in a policy framework that fosters innovation and expansion without diluting the quality of education. And without risking students’ interests. The real test for the effectiveness of the policy framework is to create a quality assurance mechanism which could distinguish wheat from the chaff and encourage quality in higher education even with for-profit model.
Rahul Choudaha A higher education specialist based out of New York, Dr Choudaha specialises in strategic management of higher education, institution building, academic leadership, collaborations and market development. He has a PhD in higher education from the University of Denver, MBA from NITIE, Mumbai, and BE from Jabalpur University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2010 EDU TECH
EDU TECH July 2010
Private Public Partnership
Private Public Partnership
Collaborations The Centre seems gung-ho about public private partnerships in higher education—but it must spread the PPP fever to the private sector to make it work on a large scale BY PADMAJA SHASTRI
July 2010 EDU TECH
S S STRATEGY
Private Public Partnership
Soon after he became the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh (1995), N. Chandrababu Naidu realised that if Hyderabad wished to become the next Silicon Valley, it had to build a similar ecosystem of innovation. Easier said than done. How does one build world-class teaching and research universities such as Stanford and Berkeley in a few years? Naidu had a plan. He proposed a public private partnership (PPP). In response, five companies (Satyam, IBM, Oracle, Motorola and Metamor) chipped in around Rs 3 million each, while the government granted 60 acres and buildings to roll-out the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad, in 1998. Structured as a not-for-profit society, the autonomous university, governed by university representatives, government and academia people, has incubated six companies and gained global recognition for its cutting-edge research. Srini Raju, a member of its governing council and a venture capitalist, says, “It has met the objectives of both the government—to seed academic entrepreneurship and the industry—to gain from the talent and the research generated thereof.” Manipal’s founder Dr TMA Pai in 1953 had proposed a similar stance to the Karnataka government. His idea was that the Kasturba Medical College (KMC), managed by the group, be allowed to use clinical facilities at government-run Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore. In return, he promised that his trained doctors (KMC teachers) would treat patients of the hospital. That equation, among the first PPPs in Independent India, is on even today. According to the memorandum of understanding (MoU), KMC, which ranks among the top five medical colleges in India, also pays the government a fee per student, does free-of-cost laboratory tests and reserves 80 MBBS seats for the students clearing Karnataka’s Common Entrance Test. “The bottom-line is a win-win situation for
“It is clear that public resources would not be sufficient to meet this ever growing demand for quality higher education”
“PPP models should also focus on quality, whereby private players can leverage their understanding of the needs of the industry”
—DR H S BALLAL Pro Vice Chancellor, Manipal University
—AMITABH JHINGAN Parrtner, Ernst & Young India
EDU TECH July 2010
all—the government, the private player, doctors, patients and medical students,” says Dr H.S. Ballal, Pro Vice Chancellor, Manipal University.
Rationale And Rewards Recently, the Eleventh Five Year plan proposed PPP as an important strategy to fast track the expansion of higher education institutes (HEIs) in the country. The Centre did its bit by increasing allocation for higher education in the Plan to Rs 849 billion. But, despite all the financial push, the Planning Commission has identified a resource gap of Rs 2.22 trillion for the new initiatives alone, for which it has earmarked Rs 306 billion. India’s network of over 20,000 colleges and 430 universities is not adequate either. It can accommodate only 12 percent of India’s 220-250 million-plus college age (18-24 years) population. The target is to take that to 30 percent by 2020. “It is clear that public resources would not be sufficient to meet this ever growing demand for quality higher education. That makes private participation inevitable,” says Dr Ballal, who also heads the higher education committee of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). But the mushrooming of many private HEIs of suspect quality in the last two decades has created an apprehension among stakeholders that privatisation might dilute quality and commercialise education. In such a scenario, “PPPs could be an effective mechanism for attracting the much needed private sector investment into the Indian higher education system without diluting the regulatory oversight of the government,” says a recent Ernst & Young-FICCI Report, Leveraging Partnerships in India’s education sector. “The complexity of higher education projects require effective PPPs , as they involve putting together a range of stakeholders and skill sets—appropriate infrastructure, quality faculty, relevant courses and funds,” says Vipul Bhagat, head –PPP Transaction Advisory, South Asia, International Finance Corporation (IFC). As lead transaction manager for an integrated campus in Gujarat to provide
Private Public Partnership
quality professional education to underserved areas, IFC will help structure a framework to attract private players. Involvement of private players is also seen to increase efficiencies and improve timeline, as they bring specialised skills to the project. That’s what happened when Universidad Autónoma de San Luís Potosí, the first university to be built under PPP in Mexico, entered into a 20 year contract with Acciona to design, build, equip and maintain the campus. Since the multinational company had expertise in infrastructure and urban services, the construction was completed in just one year. Globally, such infrastructure PPP models are mainly prevalent in the higher education sector. But PPPs can also be designed to fund research in HEIs and Science Parks. The Science Park at Hsinchu, Taipei, China was built with a combination of private and government funds adjacent to major universities. It has attracted China’s major hi-tech firms, as well as some multinationals. There are also University-based companies, partly funded by private funds. The $ 6.5 billion Founder Group, with interests in IT and Pharmaceuticals, which was promoted by Peking University in 1986, is one such. In India, the predominant model that various state governments are promoting is land allocation for free or long-term lease and project subsidy by the government, while the private player takes care of operations and management.
In The Works “In case of medical colleges, existing hospitals are also being bundled as government concession, bringing down the high capital expenditure usually associated with establishing a medical college. Soft loans and annual government grants will also come into play,” says Sumit Barua, a PPP expert of Asian Development Bank (ADB). He should know. The project report ADB has prepared for the proposed Almora Medical College envisages that Uttarakhand government will hand over a 200 bed existing hospital to the college, lease it 30
SECRET FOR SUCCESS The Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG) was one of the earliest in the field of higher education to establish successful PPPs both within the country and abroad. Anand Sudarshan, managing director and chief executive officer, Manipal Education spoke to EDU about the experience. Excerpts from the Interview: How did you structure your PPPs—Melaka Manipal Medical College (MMMC) and the Sikkim Manipal University (SMU)? A PPP in higher education requires each partnership to be customdesigned. The MMMC was a joint venture between MEMG, private investors from Malaysia and the Melaka state government in 1993. We set up SMU in 1995, as a partnership between Manipal Education and the Sikkim Government. This was perhaps the first PPP in setting up a state university in India. Like all universities , it was set up under a trust/society structure. While MMMC was funded through a combination of debt and equity (with all partners having stakes), MEMG financed SMU. Sikkim Government, provided land for the University at attractive terms.
What is the arrangement between you and the public partners in these institutes? Manipal Education is the majority shareholder in the Joint Venture Medical College Corporation (JVMC), which holds MMMC, and is responsible for its overall administration and academics. The other shareholders—Melaka Government and private investors—contribute to governance and fiscal management of the MMMC, through their ANAND SUDARSHAN representative on the JVMC Board. While Managing Director and Chief JVMC is responsible for providing the Executive Officer, Manipal academic content, teaching and infrastructure Education facilities for MMMC’s twinning MBBS programme, Manipal University provides the academic programme, awards the degree (which is approved by the Malaysian Government) and extends administrative support for the whole course. The first half of the course is held at Manipal University as there is a shortage of faculty in basic sciences in Malaysia. The clinical training is done in Malaysia, for which Melaka Government has allowed some hospitals to be used for clinical rotation and teaching. Similarly, Sikkim Government has provided a hospital to SMU. The Sikkim government officials are also on the board of the university and provide active support in SMU’s governance.
What is the secret behind your success with the PPP model? PPP represents collaboration and the secret behind the success of any collaboration lies in transparency, understanding of mutual needs (which may change from time to time, particularly with the government because of change in policies), and mutual trust. Equally important is the fact that we believe that only one entity can manage the institution—the academic and operational parts. We have taken utmost care to ensure that all the parties involved have understood each other well, there has been and continues to be implicit trust, and we have also made sure that we have the highest standards of governance in place with government representatives on the board and key committees.
July 2010 EDU TECH
Private Public Partnership
acres of land, give a soft loan of Rs 840 million and an annuity of Rs 920 million over 30 years. In return, the private player will operate and manage the college and the hospital, reserve 50 percent seats for government quota at lower fees, upgrade healthcare facilities to tertiary level and create 600 jobs. It will also develop curriculum and be responsible for regulatory clearances. “The project cost would be much higher if either the public or the private player develops it alone—Rs 1.86 billion more in case of the government,” says Barua. The Gujarat project is exploring a PPP model where the private partner/s share responsibilities at every level—funding, operational and financial management and even provision of education. Convinced by the advantages of PPPs, Government of India (GoI) is exploring the model for all its new initiatives envisaged in the Eleventh Plan, including the 300 Polytechnics and 20 IIITs. “The plan is that each IIIT would set-up with an initial corpus of Rs 1 billion, of which Rs 500 million will come from Ministry of Hu m a n Re s o u r c e D e v e l o p m e n t (MHRD), GoI, Rs 150 million from the private sector and Rs 350 million from the state government where the institute would be located. The state government is also expected to give 50-100 acres of
land for each IIIT,” says Ashok Thakur, additional secretary, (technical education), MHRD, GoI. A more detailed structure would be finalised after the scheme gets the cabinet nod, he says. Same is the case with the Polytechnics, which are also expected to follow a tripartite funding pattern. The Centre is likely to put in 25 percent of the initial cost and the rest is expected to be shared between the states and the industry. “We expect the industry to bring in technical expertise also and help in developing special courses based on its needs,” says N Mohan Das, Deputy Educational Advisor (Technical), MHRD. This is a tried and tested model in many countries like Australia, Switzerland and Ireland, which have industry-led vocational training systems, managed by the local, state and national governments. In this system, the companies decide the curriculum, provide free on-the-job training and even pay the apprentices. Experts feel that finance and mere capacity creation should not be the overriding concerns. “PPP models should also focus on quality, whereby private players can leverage their understanding of the needs of the industry to develop relevant content and improve employment outcomes that HEIs generate,” says Amitabh Jhingan, partner, Ernst
and Young India. Private sector’s expertise in innovation and research should also be leveraged by the government while developing PPP models, he adds. That’s exactly what the Innovation Universities, some of which will also be in the PPP mode, would do. “The partners could be world-class foreign universities or private promoters selected on the basis of their presence in education, financial capacity, research capabilities and linkages with industries interested in the outcomes,” says V Umashankar, director, University Grants Commission (UGC). Initially, all the 14 were to be publicly funded. But MHRD later thought that there should be innovation in funding mechanisms as well.
Designing Win-wins While these universities are still in concept stage, it is envisaged that the teaching and learning processes will be funded by the private partner (promoter university/industry), while the research programme will be publicly funded. The establishment costs of these universities, expected to be around Rs 7 billion to Rs 10 billion each, are likely to be shared by the partners. So will be the intellectual property arising out of joint research. “These universities would have sufficient autonomy, but with mechanisms
Leveraging Partnerships FUNCTIONING PPPS - STATE PROJECTS STATE
PROJECT NAME (2006-07)
Sikkim Manipal University
IBM, Oracle, Satyam, Motorola, Metamor
E-Learning centres in 20 colleges
Polytechnics in 11 districts which don’t have women’s Private investors selected for all 13 lagging districts polytechnics
17 Polytechnics in lagging Sub-division headquarters
Private investors selected for all 23 lagging Sub-divisions
65 ITIs out of 113 blocks that don’t have ITIs
Private investors selected for 109 blocks
EDU TECH July 2010
Private Public Partnership
for accountability put in place,” says Umashankar. It is a good idea to put in checks to ensure accountability and credentials of the prospective partner/s. Not having done that, Tripura Government had to take over the Tripura Medical College last year, set up as a PPP in 2004. The private partner had failed to keep its side of the bargain and ran the project into financial difficulties. According to a Comptroller and Auditor General of India report, the state government selected Kerala-based Global Education Net as partner without any expression of interest and neither took adequate safeguards in the agreement to protect the government assets nor assistance of any technical, legal or financial expert to formulate the project. Professional advice at all stages is a common thread running between most PPPs in further education in the UK . In fact, the Runshaw College, which has established an adult education centre with PPP, spent 4 percent of the value of the deal as professional fees. Selecting partner/s based on their reputation and expertise after a competitive bidding is another best practice. The estate advisors of Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College, which built a sports complex without any time over-runs, approached 16 sports development companies for proposals before zeroing in on one which employed contractors who specialised in sports developments. Partners in successful PPPs worldover also regularly monitor the project to check if their performance meets the service levels guaranteed and sometimes tweak the payments based on it.
Roadblocks The PPPs mooted by the Centre and various state governments in higher education space have not evoked much response from the private sector so far. PPPs in higher education are also slow in happening as the return on investment is very low compared to infrastructure projects in sectors like roads and power. To make these more attractive, HEIs can bundle together many small projects into one scheme or can include
“You cannot wait for everything to be perfectly in place. The key is to start the process first” —SAM PITRODA Chairman, National Knowledge Commission
a commercial development with higher return in the project, suggests the E&YFICCI report. “PPP in higher education will work only if the government changes its mindset that it is the sole custodian of quality. It also needs to wake up to the fact that the private sector has to make profit,” says Dr Shashi Gulhati, a former professor of IIT Delhi. The stipulation that HEIs have to be structured as notfor-profit entities also dissuades private sector from entering the space. The multifarious regulatory bodies that control fees and admissions in HEIs, leading to an `inspector-raj’ and the lack of transparency in accreditation make it challenging to implement PPPs in the space. “The challenge is to create such an enabling legal structure, where private sector can enter the system with honour and dignity,” says Dr Arun Nigavekar, who was chairman of UGC when it began serious discussions on PPP in 2003. Some private education providers also feel that it is more appropriate to explore PPP models after the regulatory clean-up and higher education reforms being undertaken by MHRD are put in place.
“The challenge is to create such an enabling legal structure where private sector can enter the system with honour and dignity” —DR ARUN NIGAVEKAR Ex chairman, UGC
Government has introduced four bills in the parliament—to allow foreign universities to establish campuses in India, to check malpractices, to create an accreditation body and to set up educational tribunals. It is also working on the final draft of National Commission for Higher Education and Research, an independent super-regulator which will oversee all kinds of HEIs . “You cannot wait for everything to be perfectly in place. The key is to start the process first,” says Sam Pitroda, chairman of National Knowledge Commission, which had recommended PPPs in higher education to the Government. He says, “Once we have decided to invite private participation, automatically suitable structures and regulations will develop around it. There may be some bad quality in the beginning. But we will learn as we go along and fine tune.”
What’s Online To read the full interview of Anand Sudarshan go to the EDU Website www.edu-leaders.com Write in your views and opinions about the stories in this magazine or on any other issues relating to higher education. Send them to the Editor, EDU at email@example.com
July 2010 EDU TECH
VIDEO Conferencing MODE IN A
BY SUMA E.P.
Technical solutions on offer can help an institute develop new ways of learning and collaboration
EDU TECHâ€ƒ July 2010
ideo is embedded in the lives of today’s youth. Internet lives revolve around Youtube and video links shared on Facebook. Young people consider chatting via a webcam, communication. They take videos on camera phones and share it online. Creative ones pick up digital cameras, make films and run channels on Youtube.
Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say—here’s a generation that is completely tuned into the culture of the video, who will turn out to be the knowledge workers of the future, who will use this (video) technology as a tool to communicate and collaborate, breaking all geographical barriers. Question is, how will higher education institutes cope up with this new breed of students? How will they create an environment that enables the youth to exploit new forms (of learning) that emerge from new ways of engagement? This answer, too, lies in the video! Take distance learning, for instance. It’s best for students who are otherwise unable to access education. Courses can be conducted remotely, through web-based tutorials, without face-to-face interaction between learners and teachers. Yet, even a classroom-like environment can be created—if and when required. Dr Anandakuttan B. Unnithan, head of interactive distance learning at IIM, Kozhikode, says, “We wish to avoid a common pitfall of premature termination. Literature on web-based courses suggests that the rate of course completion in asynchronous learning is as low as 12 percent.” How can distance learning address this? Solution: Courses such as management need to be conducted in a synchronised learning environment. There should be a teacher leading the class, students to listen to her, and there should be scope for interaction (as in a regular classroom). The difference would be that students might be in different cities, the teacher somewhere else. Together, they will be interacting
through video. They will be able to see each other, and by way of sophisticated learning management systems, work as if they were in the same room—give presentations, raise questions and even be rapped for passing notes. Neeraj Gill, managing director, Polycom India and SAARC, says, “Video conferencing technology not only expands the horizon for an educational institution, it also brings a welcome change to monotonous classroom settings, and to text and rote-and-note learning. Interactive question-answer sessions over video, live-video interactions and interviews of professionals, or industry experts, provide a holistic approach to teaching mechanisms.” Videoconferencing forms the base for such an interaction. Cameras and audio equipment capture discussion and transmit them to parties in real-time. Companies are also resorting to similar technology to enable interaction in a quick, high-quality and costeffective manner. Pair this with a learning management system, and you have a collaborative platform created with lecture or discussion repositories available on demand. This enables a higher education institute to relay programmes to a wider audience in different cities. Dr Unnithan says, “IIM Kozhikode realised that there are many who need management inputs, but may not be able to take two years out of their career to pursue a degree. Those professionals, in middle or senior management levels, are targeted by our management programmes.” Thus, video conferencing helps create a virtual learning environ-
TREND TALK Avistar Communications Corp. a unified visual communications solutions provider, predicted the following trends in videoconferencing for 2010: More communications-enabled business processes (CEBP). By integrating conferencing capabilities into existing business applications, decisions get made faster, in a more collaborative environment. T ry it you’ll like it. Free consumer applications will prompt consumers to try videoconferencing — an option more viable when webcams become standard accessories on computers, as they already are on netbooks. But big organizations will be worried about manageability of bandwidth. Companies will look for business-class videoconferencing that doesn’t overwhelm their networks. H ang up on phone numbers. In five years, people will move away from phone numbers. They’ll demand single-click buttons to reach the people they want to communicate with— whether it be from a computer or smartphone, from their places of business, on the road or in their home— and all through audio, video or multimedia. Within five years, business cards will hold a single address for contact voice and video information. Thin continues to be in. Expect to see more thin devices, lower power consumption and virtual desktop environments as they continue to gather steam. But that demand leads to a key question: What happens to communication applications when applications go to the data center, rather than sit on the client? Voice and video communications architectures need to be fundamentally changed to adapt to VDI deployments. Video goes social. Although it seems natural, videoconferencing will be an added feature of social networks within the next 24 months. Social networks will continue to be text- and link-based. The challenge for social networks is not bandwidth but storage: how to store videoconferencing messages on servers. There are no technology obstacles to open videoconferencing. Experts and users expect the ability to place and receive video calls from any videoconferencing application. Technologically, that’s possible today through support for videoconferencing standards. SIP, H.264 and firewall traversal are the keys. When more videoconferencing vendors support these standards, consumers and those in the professional setting alike will be the big winners.
July 2010 EDU TECH
SELECTING SIMPLE SOLUTIONS: BASICS To select the right solution, you need to have a basic requirement analysis done. Here are the questions to help you with that—
Who are the users? What kind of environments do you need to create for them?
What are your video conferencing requirements? Is it to deliver interactive distance learning? Deliver same session to multiple classrooms in the same campus, or different campuses? Is it one-to-one collaboration with other colleges? What is the mobility requirement? Do you need teachers to be able to teach from anywhere? Do you need students to be able to log in from anywhere?
What is your bandwidth availability? How much are you willing to invest in it? Do all the places that you intend to reach the video have the same bandwidth availability?
DEFINE YOUR NEEDS?
Do you need to recording and replay the sessions/lectures?
What Budget? How much budget do you have to set up the initial infrastructure? How much for the recurring costs?
Will you need to scale up by adding new campuses or users?
Do you need to conduct sessions in parallel?
When you have the answers, you can explore solutions on offer, and find the one that best meets your needs
ment. For higher education institutes, video technology has other uses. Working students often have to travel for business. They can still log onto the sessions, if there is a learning centre for the course, and enable desktop conferencing from anywhere. Gill adds, “Polycom’s standard-based solutions enable students to meet the faculty, provide easy access to subject matter and experts, deliver professional development, and conduct collaborative meetings—all accomplished virtually in the room, or at the desktop.” Here’s how you can leverage video conferencing to your advantage. Enable multiple classes to attend the same lecture: Often institutes have to curtail the number of students attending
EDU TECH July 2010
a “special” lecture, say from a visiting faculty. With video conferencing, the session may be telecast live into the classrooms and all students may “attend” the lecture simultaneously (from different geographical locations). Tap into expertise from anywhere: Getting an institute videoconferenceingenabled means that guest lectures and industry presentations can be from any part of the world. You don’t have to worry about flying people down. The expert can log onto a video conferencing session and address a class. What’s more, entire courses may be conducted this way. For instance, if there’s a specific professor in, say, a UK university, he can be roped in to delivering a course from his city. Collaboration: Collaboration is already
a keyword in the enterprise space— where distributed teams across geographies work with each other through collaboration tools, including videoconferencing. As higher education institutes find more education partners across the globe, videoconferencing can iron out communication challenges. Higher education institutes, especially ones involved in research, can collaborate through videoconferencing. Specialised training for teachers: If teaching staff have to be trained in a certain area, this can be done over video conferencing, as well. Scaling up talent does not mean having to send them away to places for the training. Better multi-campus co-ordination: If you are a multi-campus institute, run-
ning administration meetings on videoconference can enable a smoother coordination of activities.
Technical Nitty-gritty Point-to-point or multi-point video conferencing lets people communicate (of course, across locations). All that a person needs to figure out is the topic and choose accordingly. Dr Unnithan says, “Our institute does not use traditional video conferencing, but a highly-interactive and synchronous satellite-based technology offering two-way audio and video, content and real-time chat functionality. Students receive the programme on their terminals in classrooms rather than on a centrally mounted common screen used in traditional video conferencing.” The critical element is network, or the way data (video, audio, & text, etc.) is passed from one point to the other. This needs to be a high-bandwidth network, or a solution that exploits existing bandwidth to deliver great video and audio communication. In the case of IIM Khozikode, VSAT technology is used. Then, it’s the turn of audio and video equipment. At each point, there is a necessity for a television or a PC monitor to receive images; and a video camera, or a web cam through which images are sent. Then, microphones would be needed to send the audio, and loudspeakers to hear the incoming audio. Companies offer dedicated equipment to handle all this. Or, desktop machines could do all this work, depending on the solution opted for. The software part of the process will be handled by the solution provider as well. Compression techniques at play ensure easy transfer of larger files. Audio-echo cancellation ensures that audio delivery is real-time, echoless and of high quality. Solution providers are supposed to put together the entire package for institutes.
Solutions On Offer EDU spoke to Cisco regarding video conferencing tools on offer. Minhaj Zia, the company’s national sales manager, says, “Cisco TelePresence delivers an immer-
EDU TECH July 2010
NOT-FOR-FREE DATA Interview with Dr Anandakuttan B. Unnithan, Head, Interactive Distance Learning, IIM, Kozhikode, talks technology, especially tools used by the institute to create online interactive pan-India classrooms If a higher education institute is looking to adopt videoconferencing, what are the key things they must keep in mind?
Following considerations are important while selecting a technology. (technology) should simulate a classroom environment n It should provide a high level of interaction essential for management education. (This is why IIM Kozhikode rejected the broadcasting mode) n It should support an intense learning atmosphere of a high-quality management class and provide adequate tools for a range of pedagogies adopted in the class, like case studies, simulations and online exercises facility to use additional con“WHAT WE tent such as audio-video snippets, and faciliHAVE tate collaborative exercises, etc. n It should provide a centralised control to LEARNED IS THAT maintain class discipline and help teachers to TRANSLATING synthesise students though a process while A CLASSROOM delivering sessions through a series of interacPROGRAMME tive tools (such as pop-ups, directed questions, TO AN ONLINE flagging, etc.) PROGRAMME IS n Scalability of technology is also crucial. NOT EASY” At the time when we adopted it, VSAT technology for IDL met these requirements best. DR ANANDAKUTTAN B. Main alternatives were synchronous web UNNITHAN, Head, Interactive based learning and interactive TV. Since the Distance Learning, IIM K objective was to develop a premium product, and not a commoditised mass product, these choices were eliminated naturally. n It
Could you share some of the key learnings from your experience?
The major challenge for us was the lack of a model to benchmark our setup. Since it was a pioneering concept, translating classroom rigour to a virtual platform, and training faculty to adapt themselves to the new way was a challenge. The virtual platform provided more information on the fly, making it necessary for the teacher to use them effectively to improve quality of delivery. Through continuous training, technical handholding, these challenges were overcome successfully. Moreover, the first batch had a very enthusiastic group of technocrats as participants. Minor technological issues were sorted out during the course of time. A detailed backup plan to ensure that “classroom” experience was not lost at any point of time was made when the programme was launched. What we have learned is that translating a classroom programme to an online programme is not easy. Just an adaptation may not be the solution. With an audience, with different profiles and requirements, and considering the advantages and limitations of the technology platform, a fresh concept for online delivery needed to be evolved and implemented. Faculty also encountered a steep learning curve, before they were able to be productive and efficient with the technology. Even assessment needs were differently designed.
sive, life-like communication experience. It replicates human nuances crucial to learning through an advanced set of audio and video technologies, delivered through an IP phone interface.” There is also Cisco Digital Media System (DMS) that distributes live and ondemand campus video and content to PCs and digital signs. “You can share campus events and communicate emergencies with digital signage, provide distance learning, and deliver campus video through Cisco Enterprise TV. Campus video extends communications to any device with an Extend DMS to any endpoint device having Cisco Media Experience Engine (MXE 3000). Users can create campus video, customise and distribute it in the correct format, and edit and produce it using advanced tools,” he adds. VMukti is a company that has developed an open-source, cloud-based high definition video conferencing communication suite. Based on this, the company offers programmes such as Virtual ClassRoom and LiveStreaming. “Even if you have a bandwidth as low as 100kbps available at the receiver’s ends, these solutions can easily work for you. All you need are PCs connected to Net,” says Kushal Sanghvi, chief marketing officer, VMukti. “Solution is simple to operate and works through the internet,” he says. “Any event or session can be broadcast across the world without any limitation of users, so it is highly scalable. The content is secure, and there are multiple live channels to enable a two-way communication,” he adds. Videos can be accessed later from a library. Polycom’s Gill says, “From administrative meetings to instructional delivery, Polycom Unified Communications (UC) technology is used every day by higher education institutions. Polycom’s visual collaboration offerings span from software-based laptop video conferencing, to HD desktop and room conferencing solutions, and a range of fully immersive telepresence solutions.” So how much should an institute budget for a videoconferencing project? Sanghvi of VMUkti says, “Generally, it
SMALL TRUTHS ABOUT CISCO MEDIA SYSTEM Minhaj Zia, National Sales Manager, Cisco—“Our company has deployed Cisco Digital Media System at Bapatla Engineering College, Andhra Pradesh. This has created an extended classroom environment capable of ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning experiences. Cisco Digital Media System helped virtualise Baptala’s classrooms with remote broadcast and lecture viewing and on-demand video. The college will soom stream live sessions conducted by visiting professors and experts. Lectures can be viewed online in the institute’s 15 classrooms and 40 ‘e-classrooms’ simultaneously. Cisco Digital Media System enables Baptala to simultaneously record and archive classroom sessions.”
depends on the size of the project. Typically it is around 10 to 33 percent of the students’ fees. In IIMK’s case, a different approach for and cost structuring was followed. Dr Unnithan says, “IDL was implemented on a BOT (build-operate-transfer) model. As the model was untested, the institute decided against spending money from the public exchequer for
“Video conferencing technology not only expands the horizon, it also brings a welcome change to monotonous classroom settings” —NEERAJ GILL Managing Director, Polycom India, SAARC
this. Tenders were floated asking for eligible players (with IP3 licence to provide National VSAT connectivity), who were ready to invest in technology and provide high-quality classrooms with a pan-India presence. “Revenue was to be shared with the vendor, who at their cost would have to set up studio, provide adequate bandwidth and allied infrastructure according to specifications, and run classrooms across the country. A two-stage bidding process was made. Finally, Hughes Escorts Communications Limited (later changed to HughesNet) was selected.” Campuses now deploy high-speed networks to handle video conferencing. As the base infrastructure comes into place, more and more institutes will embark on the video-conferencing mode. The potential is huge—from conducting online classes to running a distributed team collaboratively. And for a generation that is tuned into engaging technologies, video-conferencing has to be brought in to develop their knowledge base and personality. It’s time to video-conference.
What’s Online To read more stories on Technology go to the EDU website www.edu-leaders.com Write in your views and opinions about the stories in this magazine or on any other issues relating to higher education. Send them to the Editor, EDU at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2010 EDU TECH
Edu Tech December 2009
Rishikesha T. Krishnan
Need For A Vibrant Liberal Arts Culture
he need for economic stability dictates an Indian family’s decision to send its children packing for “professional degrees”. Engineering, in particular, attracts a number of bright minds. As a result of which at IIM Bangalore, where I teach, more than 80 percent of my class consists of “engineers” Some of them, who opted for the technical degree, neither had the aptitude, nor the interest, in it. Some of my class took the step to meet parental expectations; others to get a job. In our country engineering courses (except those at the top-rung institutions) lack rigour. Result: Companies that recruit graduates complain that most don’t come on board with a basic idea of the fundamentals. This leads me to wonder if we, as a nation, would have been better off had some of our talent pursued liberal arts instead?
Classical Proponents Classical liberal arts curriculum sought to empower individuals to think on their own. Based on grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music, it sought to create thinking minds. The process was based on close interaction between teachers and students in small, residential colleges. Professors focused on teaching, rather than on research. The modern interpretation includes literature, language, philosophy, history, maths and science. The process develops problem-solving, communication, computation, synthesis, critical reflection, and analytical capabilities. It seeks to
EDU TECH July 2010
provide exposure to the most prominent thinkers in history and their ideas. It seeks to develop what Ernest Nolan calls an “intellectual framework with which to understand and evaluate human events and interactions”. At its best, it should promote plurality and diversity because it gives learners reasoning abilities to rise above bigotry or narrow sectarian causes. Proponents of liberal arts education argue that a citizenry with a significant number of liberal arts graduates is better suited to handle change. The pace of change in most sectors means that a decade from now jobs will be different from today. People educated in the liberal arts will be better suited to tackle these changes, because they would not be bound by specific specialisations or training. According to Martha Nussbaum, such education “liberates the mind from the bondage of habit and customs, producing people who can function with sensitivity and alertness as citizens of the world”.
Constraints India doesn’t have a culture of liberal arts education of this type as yet. Our three-year graduation courses have a limited scope. These don’t provide the breadth of the ideal liberal arts curriculum and rarely offer the possibility of the combination of humanities, sciences and social sciences. Few colleges outside St Stephen’s and a few others in
Rishikesha T. Krishnan
Delhi University have a faculty that can offer a high-quality liberal arts course. While there have been talks of starting liberal arts courses here, the biggest impediment may come from the faculty and examination system. Since liberal arts education is based on open enquiry and building critical reasoning, the classroom has to be open to such ideas. Will our faculty be able to handle such a sharp change from our current system of “don’t question the teacher”, rote learning, and sharply circumscribed textbooks and notes? The lack of competence and training of several faculty members will prevent them from practicing Socratic enquiry in the classroom! Examinations will become trickier. By definition, questions that seek to test critical reasoning don’t have one correct answer. Evaluation becomes necessarily more subjective. An exam key becomes more difficult to prepare.
Disproportions In terms of curricular structure, there have been attempts to bring features of liberal arts into professional education itself. But, these have been
ed MA course with development studies, economics and English. These courses potentially offer students exposure to humanities, social sciences, maths, statistics and even engineering science. It’s too early to predict if it will leave an impact, but the number of students applying for them is on the rise. Interestingly though, IIT Madras is not positioning this course as a liberal arts one, but as a programme to create people for growing employment opportunities for humanities and social science professionals! There is little doubt that India needs a new generation of leaders with wider social sensitivity and an understanding of history. We have been fortunate that many of our business leaders have, through their own reading and scholarship, made up for the lack. People like Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani developed their own worldviews. But it may be too much to assume that this will happen on its own in the future as well.
Solution We undoubtedly need a greater degree of experimentation in higher education than we have seen
he law of requisite variety suggests that in this changing world we need more diversity in our population
difficult to sustain. When IIT Kanpur was set up 50 years ago, engineering students had to do one humanities or social science course every semester. Unlike many of the other IITs, Kanpur therefore sought to create a humanities and social sciences departments at a par with engineering and science departments. It was able to attract outstanding scholars in psychology, philosophy, logic, economics and linguistics. However, this did not endure. Not all members of the engineering faculty shared the belief that humanities or social sciences were necessary. Also, the move to a four-year engineering curriculum in the 1980s resulted in a disproportionate cut in the number of arts courses in an effort to preserve the core engineering ones. Outstanding scholars migrated to greener pastures.
New Experiments A few years ago, some experiments in this arena were started again. IIT Madras began an integrat-
so far. The best way to gauge if we can develop a strong liberal arts stream is by trying it out. The assumption that small classes meeting in an intimate setting is required for a liberal arts curriculum also needs to be put to test. Can threaded discussion forums and interaction media substitute for classroom discussions? If they can, then it may be possible to scale up liberal arts education—if it succeeds in smaller experimental settings. We don’t need all our best students to jump from engineering to liberal arts. But the law of requisite variety would suggest that in a fast-changing world, we need more variety in our population. So, starting liberal arts programmes on a modest scale seems a good idea. Remember that a modern liberal arts curriculum does not consist of humanities and social sciences alone—it includes a strong component of maths and sciences. Above all, the main distinguishing factor of a good programme is the willingness to challenge dogma.
Rishikesha T. Krishnan Dr Krishnan is a professor of corporate strategy at IIM Bangalore. He has an MSc in Physics from IIT Kanpur, MS in engineeringeconomic systems from Stanford University, and a PhD from IIM Ahmedabad. He can be reached at email@example.com
July 2010 EDU TECH
FACT FILE CURRENT ROLE CEO, Rubicon Intelligence
BY SUBHOJIT PAUL
AWARDS Golden Key Award for contribution to management education
POSITIONS HELD Dean of the Faculty of Management, McGill University Managing Partner, Change Lab International EDU TECHâ€ƒ July 2010
C reative Teaching Gerald Ross DIALOGUE
Gerald Ross, former Dean of McGill Faculty of Management, is combining his experience of industry and academia to reinvent management education with Rubicon Intelligence By Aman Singh
EDU: Could you elaborate the ideals that went behind the formation of Rubicon Intelligence? ROSS: It began with the belief that business education should address three inter-related issues—scale, cost and quality. Ideally, there should be programmes that offer open access (of education) to thousands of qualified people which they can avail from multiple locations. However, fees should be made affordable. Top western schools charge as high as US$100,000 per year, with their Asian equivalents not far behind. This puts education out of reach for most students. Consistent quality is really achieved through a consistent, transferable teaching methodology.
EDU: What according to you is quality education? ROSS: When I was growing up, my father told me, ‘Gerald, the best car in the world is a Rolls Royce— simply because it is handcrafted’. That got me thinking about the question of quality—how individual effort leads to quality. Through my life experiences I also realised that quality meant little unless it was consistent. An individual is a volatile being. Teaching quality varies widely according to the skill and mood of the professor, even in top institutions. Of course there are exceptions. Harvard professors employ a common teaching process—the case method—where the same approach is applied across all July 2010 EDU TECH
DIALOGUE Gerald Ross
“We filter out the most innovative students. We call them aberrations” subjects. Before classes, professors discuss curricula, teaching plans and tests. They spend an equal amount of time debriefing each other. Then notes are taken down for the next teacher to guide him or her. At Harvard or Stanford there is no concept of a ‘bad classroom experience’, because they are not dependent on the individual alone, but on collaborations. Harvard also resorts to case method, invented in 1952, a lot. To teach a topic it resorts to tertiary subjects and weaves it around topics and real-life experiences.
EDU: What do you think are the limitations of education today? ROSS: We fail to recognise that individuals have different learning styles. We systematically filter out the most innovative people. Instead of calling them ‘exceptions’, we call them ‘aberrations’. We may look at the problem as one pertaining to systems engineering. System engineering is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on complex projects. It deals with how control of machinery becomes more difficult with larger projects in which issues (logistics, co-ordination) become more complex. Another problem is time—formal education is a long drawn out process. It takes an individual two decades of his or her life to get ‘educated’.
EDU: You collaborated with IBM to develop their corporate university strategies. How was the experience? ROSS: We began in North America. Our first step was the Change Lab International—a consultancy firm of sorts that helped companies to manage change. Then it was IBM Corporate University, which was set up in the 1990s. It helped IBM to fine-tune a process by which it shifted from being a ‘main-frame producer’, to being an ‘integrated solution provider’. We got new management concepts up and customised solutions for the HR, legal and manufacturing departments. We had to embed these new concepts across operations in all five continents. As far as the experience goes—Jesus Christ had 12 disciples and no budget. We had a budget. So we thought that ‘maybe we have a chance’ (laughs). We pulled out new verticals. We thought of radically different things. We set up a college in Atlanta where we trained poten-
EDU TECH July 2010
tial IBMers. Admittedly, when it started we were thrown at the deep end of a pool.
EDU: How did your corporate experience help when you joined as dean of Mc Gill? ROSS: When I started out as a dean I asked myself corporate questions—if this university was a company would I buy it? Sure, the brand was good. But how good was the quality and consistency of teaching? Was every class outstanding? How good were the management processes and use of resources? To figure this one out I spoke to the students, the customers. They gave valuable pointers.
EDU: Tell us about your experience at McGill. ROSS: When I was Dean at McGill, we ran a full MBA programme in Tokyo. In the 1980s, we helped set up 33 MBA programmes in China and later established programmes more broadly in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan and other countries. The bad news was that we were flying professors in business-class back and forth for a class of 60 students. It nearly killed us trying to teach those 60 students. During that time I ran into the Indian Knowledge Commission team. I learnt from them that there were 250,000 students who applied for the top-tier business programmes every year. Of them 10,000 received admission. I wondered, can our programme accommodate the remaining 240,000? I realised not. Despite my father waxing eloquent about the Rolls Royce,
Gerald Ross DIALOGUE Lexus beat the old car to the game. Reason: Rolls Royce was such a small-scale business where quality depended on the mood and skill of the craftsman, much like with a university professor in a typical classroom. The quality of a Lexus, on the other hand, depends on 20 years of continuous improvement, driven by a Kai Zen approach and six-sigma processes. Furthermore, Lexus has had the scale to invest in innovation. Verdict: Rolls Royce is now owned by BMW and Bentley by Volkswagen.
EDU: Could you explain what you mean by ‘scale’? ROSS: The first question is: ‘What are we trying to scale?’ A classroom with a couple of dozen professors is not easy or inexpensive to scale. In the 1990s, people thought technology was the answer and turned their courses into e-learning modules available anywhere on the internet. Did this solve the problem? No! It simply automated the old problem. The real issue is to rethink the learning process first and then find how technology can help. The challenge is not transferring content but transferring an interactive learning process. Content is a commodity. Anything in an MBA programme can be found on Google or Wikipedia. MIT even has its whole curriculum available on the internet to everybody.
“It’s tough to check quality with so much data flooding the web. Technology is both a blessing & a curse”
EDU: So when you think of Rubicon, how are you going to tackle this concept of quality and scale? ROSS: We think of learning as an end-to-end process from raw content through understanding to application in the field. The problem as I see it is that we overload students with information and give them no directions to sift through it—which is education. Grasp the meaning, understand what is being said. Because once you understand there is no need to memorise, you will automatically remember. A professor needs to be a guide. He needs to ask himself—can I do better? Universities were meant to be small, providing professors a chance to interact on a one-to-one basis.
EDU: Where does technology stand in all this? ROSS: I remember in 1995 I was trying to find a joke on the internet and I saw that I had only some million options (laughs). I ended up asking a friend for a joke. The scenario is pretty much the same today. Let’s say I want to find the ‘right’ book on marketing, I get hundreds. Which one do I choose? How do I know it is right for me? Twenty years ago there were half-a-dozen books and you decided for yourself. It is difficult to keep a check on quality with all kinds of information flooding the cyberspace. Especially, when you have no idea of the source. Technology is both a blessing and a curse.
EDU: How will Rubicon handle the process of teaching and learning? ROSS: Research has shown us a lot about how people best learn but little of this has penetrated into the classroom. To move forward, we need a consistent framework for organizing knowledge. For example, the common Apple and Windows desktop organizes all applications to work in exactly the same way with ‘file, edit, view’ menus. This consistent framework exploded computer use by non-technical people, a revolution over DOS. We need the same thing in teaching and learning. A physics teacher of Winchester College and I were discussing Ohm’s law. He admitted that though it took him all of eight minutes to explain the law, none of the students understood immediately— well, of course not! If you divorce the law from its context then it becomes so much more tougher to grasp. I suggested that he lend cameras to students and document the law in its elements in the real world. The assignment: to make a 2 minute video on how they would teach Ohm’s Law to their fellow
students. We played 110 videos. Each was brilliant. Teaching should involve creativity. I believe that there are three basic points that need to be kept in mind: Actual format of the content Delivery through curiosity Context Understand that engineers can’t be taught like HR people. One-size-fits-all model fits nobody. We scale all the wrong things—such as the content. We should not overload professors or students with content. Remember that it’s silly to presume that the same system will work in India just because it worked in North America.
EDU: India has a lot of new management institutions coming up everyday. What advice would you give to these institutions in order to be successful? ROSS: If you want to end up differently, then start differently. If you start off by trying to be the same, you will end up as a cheap imitation. For example, if an institution starts off with government grants, it will end up being dependent on government grants forever. But I have faith in India—it is a smart country. I would like to see is one successful model Indian model.
What’s Online Find insightful similar stories at edu-leaders.com Write your views, opinions about the stories, issues that you found interesting to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2010 EDU TECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE FROM
O F H I G H E R E D U C AT I O N
55 THE HUMANITIES GO GOOGLE 59 THE GOSPEL OF WELLEDUCATED GUESSING
Rise of the Global Varsity: Five New Tensions Research universities are the most globally connected of all sectors. Knowledge is the free currency of higher education. Global connections; comparisons and rankings; and flows of people, ideas, knowledge, and capital are transforming higher education BY SIMON MARGINSON
ome scholars date the beginnings of globalisation from the first move of people out of Africa. Some date it from the spread of world religions— Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Others date it from the imperial European empires, the Napoleonic wars, or the expanded trade and migration in the second half of the Victorian era. But one thing is certain: In the past two decades, the internet and cheap air travel have created such closer integration and convergence that, for the first time, a single world society is within reach—and higher education, ranging beyond the nation-state, is a central driver. The “multiversity”—a university with multiple constituencies and demands that Clark Kerr, the former president of the University of California, identified in the 1960s—has given way to the Global Research University, or GRU. The Global Research University is the multiversity with much more mobility, more cross-national research and learning, and more global systems and rankings. Indeed, in almost every country, research universities are among the most globally connected of all sectors. Knowledge, the free currency of higher education, flows anywhere and everywhere, like quicksilver on a metal table. At the same time, global connections; global comparisons and rankings; and global flows of people, ideas, knowledge, and capital are transforming higher education.
EDU TECH July 2010
GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM Three-Pronged Path To Education In that transformation, three trends have come together: Networking. Almost a third of the world’s population now has fast internet access. An incredible more than half— including some people identified by the World Bank as living on a dollar a day or less—use mobile phones. Those numbers are climbing fast. And the parts of society already networked are much more intensively connected than before—universities are a prime example. Every research university is a user of networked communications for complex data transfer and real-time collaboration. The annual Webometrics ranking traces the explosive growth of Web work, led globally by Harvard University. Second is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), driven by the traffic through its OpenCourseWare project. For researchers, offshore relations are often more compelling than local connections. Across all OECD countries, between 1988 and 2005, the proportion of scientific papers that involved international collaborations jumped from 26 percent to 46 percent. In the United States it rose from 10 percent to 27 percent of papers. Ever-growing role of knowledge. As Kerr predicted in The Uses of the University (Harvard University Press, 2001), knowledge and research have become central to nations’ economies and cultures. Governments have long been fascinated by the potential of science and technology to drive global competitiveness, but in the past decade the preoccupation with application and commercialisation has been joined by a new faith in the power of state policies and support to encourage creativity itself. A main preoccupation of the emerging research nations in Asia is with fostering “creative cultures” in a range of ways—including speeding up visas for foreign researchers and building new urban precincts in which innovators in the arts and sciences are brought together to cross-fertilise each other’s thought processes and start lateral inventions. Expanding access to education. As more nations modernise and middle-classes grow, participation in higher education has grown significantly and continuously almost everywhere. According to data from Unesco, between 1991 and 2004, enrolments in higher education increased more than 8 percent annually in East Asian and Pacific countries, about 7 percent annually in Africa, and 5 percent annually in Central Europe and Latin America. As Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize winner and professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University, has remarked, the augmentation of human capability through education is unstoppable because it meets public, industry, and private needs at the same time.
Tensions Within The System Those three trends coming together—global networking, research power, and mass participation—make higher education more crucial today than ever before. At the same time, the convergence of those trends, and the emergence of the Global Research University (GRU), has created a new set of tensions: The tension between national perspectives and global perspectives. Governments and some institutions focus on their own
THE AUGMENTATION OF HUMAN CAPABILITY THROUGH EDUCATION IS UNSTOPPABLE, BECAUSE IT MEETS PUBLIC, INDUSTRY, AND PRIVATE NEEDS AT THE SAME TIME
MOTIVES OF GRUS MIGHT BE SELFISH, BUT IT IS ALSO ALTRUISTIC. GRUS CREATE GLOBAL PUBLIC GOODS—KNOWLEDGE—WHICH WE AS A SOCIETY NEED TO TACKLE FIRST
agendas—which are usually local or national. But GRUs have global visions and ambitions. They see themselves, and rightly so, as leading the emerging global civilisation. They want to draw top-flight students and professors who will position themselves at the peak of the international rankings. They want to cut larger figures in the world—and to be financially supported accordingly. Motives of GRUs might be selfish, but it is also altruistic. GRUs create global public goods—knowledge that we, as a global society, need to tackle such as climate change, water and food shortages, and epidemic diseases. Basic research to further scientific knowledge is itself a global public good. But will GRUs be allowed to just get on with making the world a better place? Now that knowledge has become vital in so many areas, the instinct of national or state governments is to design financial support and management systems that enable them to shape the forms of research, plan research outcomes, and more closely focus how we use knowledge. The objective here, which at the bottom is flawed, is not simply to reduce economic waste. It is to make research inquiry, which by its nature is a journey July 2010 EDU TECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
FIVE TENSIONS Global networking, research and mass participation makes education viable. The convergence of those trends also creates a set of clashes and problems:
Between national perspectives and global perspectives
Between exclusive (elite) research and mass teaching
Between sameness and diversity in teaching methods
Within the hierarchy of the mostcompetitive global universities
Between those inside the hierarchy and those outside it in universities
into the unknown, more predictable and perhaps less dangerous. The fallacy is the notion that states, using administrative processes, can control the future by controlling new knowledge. The risk is that they suppress the essential autonomy of the creator in trying to do so. Moreover, many national governments are less than fully sympathetic toward the global research agenda. The outcomes of basic research in the scientific literature are open to all. But, as the national policymaker sees it, “These global public-knowledge goods are all very well, but what's in it for us? Why should we pay for everyone's free benefits?” Or “What’s the use of us paying for basic research if the resulting innovations are all captured by foreign companies and the national economy gets zip?” That mentality is short-sighted and self-centered. However, nations are still the site of higher-education policy and will remain so for a good time to come. Political and financial support for universities nearly all comes from within national boundaries, except for foreign-student fees and some research money. Universities must now operate in all three dimensions at the same time: global, national, local. They must become smarter about managing the balance between those three dimensions and, where possible, work them in synergy, not conflict. For example, universities successful in global research can increase the gravitational pull of the cities and nations in which they are housed by attracting creative talent and industry investment from around the world—providing they are effectively engaged at the local level. Tension between elite research and mass teaching. Some Global Research Universities, such as the University of Toronto, with close to 75,000 students, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, with more than 300,000, are both elite research institutions and mass teaching institutions. Other universities focus primarily on research, are highly selective in whom they enrol, and steer clear of mass teaching. Only some countries seem to manage a workable division of labour. Others unduly dilute research or weaken resources given to mass education, or both. Both kinds of institution can work. What matters is the balance of functions within a national system. The tension between sameness and diversity. Global comparisons,
EDU TECH July 2010
systems, and the Anglo-American model are making universities more similar—and penalising those that are not, including non-research institutions, and all universities using languages other than English. But global convergence also brings us in touch with all manner of diversity. Already there are 12 languages with 100-million speakers or more in the world: English, Mandarin, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish-Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Malay, Indonesian, Japanese, French, and German. As the list of top research universities becomes pluralistic, perhaps other languages will join English as global languages. We might also see the emergence of more-pluralist global rankings, with tables for different kinds of institutions: GRUs, vocational-technical, mass providers, small and specialist colleges, and so on. Tension within the hierarchy of the most-competitive global universities. America dominates Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2009 international rankings of top-100 research universities. The United Kingdom is No 2, and Australia, Canada, Japan, and Western European countries occupy the other places in the top 10. English-speaking countries make up 73 percent of the top 100. We are at the historic high point of the Anglo-American university. But not for long. As everyone knows, the East is rising—in particular, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and especially China. Perhaps India will become a major world player, as well, if the government carries out a new wave of national investment in a coherent fashion. In China, government support has been crucial to the amazing growth of research and participation in higher education. Between 1995 and 2007, the average annual growth of science papers in English, according to US National Science Foundation Board data, was 16.5 percent in China, 14.1 percent in South Korea, and 10.5 percent in Singapore. That compares with just 0.7 percent in the United States and 0.3 percent in the United Kingdom—perhaps not surprising, given public investment in America and the United Kingdom has been relatively flat, or declining. The ascendency of Asian higher education, of course, worries some people in the Anglo-American world, especially as Western European universities are strengthening, too. But it is a
GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM boon to those of us in the Asia-Pacific and indeed for everyone. The growth of research anywhere generates common benefits via the flows of knowledge, innovations, and people—and it broadens and deepens the reach of intellectual culture, while adding to the conversation distinctive new voices. It also expands the potential for global agreement. The tension between those inside the hierarchy and those outside it. As Manuel Castells, professor of communication at the University of Southern California, points out, networks are always incomplete in coverage unless prolonged efforts are made to bring everyone in. Many nations, especially in Africa, have no Global Research Universities at all. Research programmes at their higher-education institutions are rudimentary. Institutions are under-financed or unstable. Student participation rates are low—in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, it is only 5 percent. Long lines of people are waiting for opportunities that those in developed and emerging Asian countries now take for granted. Many millions of lives are being blighted by the global knowledge gap.
Long-term Partnerships A major public role that leading Global Research Universities in developed countries should play is to form long-term partnerships with institutions in emerging higher-education systems. Those partnerships should be designed to build capacity, especially research capacity. There are strong examples of such partnerships. For example, several departments of the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, in fields of science and business education, are working with their counterparts at Vietnam National University to overhaul the curriculum, with due regard for both academic
standards and the Vietnamese context. The work involves short courses of training and program development in both countries. It is fostering new teaching methods, encouraging research publishing, and transforming the academic program in Vietnam. But we need more such efforts. The goal should be to establish top GRUs everywhere, to extend knowledge-based cooperation across the whole world—moving beyond the limits of nation-states toward a more inclusive global society. The tensions that I've described are endemic to GRUs but are not impossible contradictions. Not all tension is destructive. Throughout its history, the university has combined differing and even opposing missions and forces. The secret of its long historical continuity is that from time to time it finds new ways of reinventing itself. It devises new combinatory models and strategies, changes its inner culture, and renovates its external mission. Thus we moved from the liberal academy of J.H. Newman to the scientific and professional university to Clark Kerr's multiversity and now to the Global Research University. The GRU must resolve the tensions running through it, harnessing the energy of paradox as a creative force. If it can do so, it will meet its key challenges: to be locally and globally effective at the same time. To move forward on both elite research and democratic education, whether within the same institutions or by bringing different institutions into conjunction. To devise common systems and methods of standardisation which broaden creativity rather than narrowing it. And to further lift the stellar universities, while spreading the research function across the whole of higher education, contributing to the knowledge economy throughout the world.
The Humanities Go Google ‘Reading’ entire libraries may lead to disciplinary battles, as ‘Big Data’ bumps into entrenched traditions. It also underscores complications colleges encounter when they pin their digital dreams on a corporation BY MARC PARRY
Speed Reading Redefined Matthew L. Jockers may be the first English professor to assign 1,200 novels in one class. Lucky for the students, they don't have to read them. As grunts in Stanford University’s new Literature Lab, these students investigate the evolution of literary style by teaming up like biologists and using computer pro-
grammes to “read” an entire library. It's a controversial vision for changing a field still steeped in individual reader’s careful analysis of texts. And it could become a more common way of doing business in the humanities, as millions of books are made machine-readable through new tools like Google’s digital library. History, literature, language July 2010 EDU TECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE studies: For any discipline where research focuses on books, some experts say, academe is at a computational crossroads. Data-diggers are gunning to debunk old claims based on “anecdotal” evidence and answer once-impossible questions about the evolution of ideas, language, and culture. Critics, meanwhile, worry that these stat-happy quants take the human out of the humanities. Novels aren’t commodities such as bags of flour, they warn. Cranking words from deeply specific texts like grist through a mill is a recipe for lousy research, they say— and a potential disaster for the profession. The debate over the value of the work at Stanford previews the disciplinary battles that may erupt elsewhere as Big Data bumps into entrenched traditions. It also underscores complications colleges encounter when they pin their digital dreams on a corporation. Authors and publishers have besieged Google’s plan to digitise the world’s books, accusing the company of copyright infringement. The legal limbo that has tied up a settlement of their lawsuits is hanging a question mark over universities' plans to build centres for research on the books Google scanned from their libraries. Another complication: Worrisome questions remain about the quality of Google’s data, which may be less like the library of Alexandria and more like a haphazardly organised used-book shop.
DATA-DIGGERS ARE GUNNING TO DEBUNK OLD CLAIMS BASED ON ‘ANECDOTAL’ EVIDENCE AND ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF IDEAS
But, legal and technical headaches may be worth the sweeping rewards of becoming one of perhaps two places in the world to host the greatest digital library ever built. The university is planning to chase that prize—and the prestige, recruitment power, and seminal research that could come with it. So is HathiTrust, a digital library consortium whose leaders include the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Indiana University at Bloomington, and the University of California system. “It’s like the invention of the telescope,” Franco Moretti, a Stanford professor of English and comparative literature, says of Google Books. “All of a sudden, an enormous amount of matter becomes visible.” Once scholars like Moretti can gaze into those new galaxies, however, they'll have to answer the biggest question of all: So what?
EDU TECH July 2010
Partners in Provocation Lab is a generous description for the place where Moretti and his disciples work on problems. The research effort he leads with Jockers, a lecturer and academic-technology specialist in the English department, is housed in an ugly room the size of one professor’s office. The lab has no window and nothing on the walls but some whiteboards scrawled with algorithms. Like others itching to peer into Google’s unfinished telescope, Moretti and his colleagues here are honing their methods with home-grown prototypes. One lesson they’ve learned is you can’t do this humanities research the old way: like a monk, alone. You need a team. To sort, interrogate, and interpret roughly 1,000 digital texts, scholars have brought together a data-mining gang drawn from the departments of English, history, and computer science. They’re the rare clique of humanities graduate students who work across disciplines and discuss programming languages over beer, an unlikely mix of “techies” and “fuzzies” with enough characters for a reality-TV show. Their backbone is Jockers, an obsessive tech whiz from Montana who has run a 50-mile race in his spare time and gets so excited talking about text-mining that his knees bob up and down. Moretti is his more conservative partner in provocation, a vest-and-spectacles-wearing Italian native who tempers Jockers’s excitement with questions and punctuates sentences with his large hands. In their role as Lewis and Clark on the literary frontier, the duo have a penchant for firing shots at the establishment; Moretti once told The New York Times that their field is in some ways one of “the most backward disciplines in the academy”. The idea that animates his vision for pushing the field forward is “distant reading”. Moretti and Jockers say scholars should step back from scrutinising individual texts to probe whole systems by counting, mapping, and graphing novels. And not just famous ones. New insights can be gleaned by shining a spotlight into the “cellars of cultures” beneath the small portion of works that are typically studied, Moretti believes. He has pointed out that the 19-century British heyday of Dickens
GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM and Austen, for example, saw the publication of perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 novels—the huge majority of which are never studied. The problem with this “great unread” is that no human can sift through it all. “It just puts out of work most of the tools that we have developed in, what, 150 years of literary theory and criticism,” Moretti says. “We have to replace them with something else.” That “something else”, to him, means methods from linguistics and statistical analysis. His Stanford team takes the Hardys and the Austens, the Thackerays and the Trollopes, and tosses their masterpieces into a database that contains hundreds of lesser novels. Then they cast giant digital nets into that megapot of words, trawling around like intelligence agents hunting for patterns in the chatter of terrorists. Learning the algorithms that stitch together those nets is not typically part of an undergraduate English education, as several grad students point out over pastries in the lab one recent morning. “It’s hard to teach English PhD students how to code,” says Kathryn VanArendonk, 25, a ponytailed Victorianist whose remark draws knowing chuckles from others. But the hardest thing to programme is themselves. Most aren’t trained to think like scientists. A control group? To study novels? How do you come up with pointed research questions? And how do you know if you’ve got valid evidence to make a claim? One of the more interesting claims the group is working on is about how novels evolved over the 19th century from preachy tales that told readers how to behave, to stories that conveyed ideas by showing action. On a whiteboard, Long Le-Khac, 26, sketches how their computational tools can spit out evidence for the change: the decline of abstract conceptual words like “integrity”, “loyalty”, “truthfulness”. Jockers chimes in with the “So what?” point behind this chart: The data are important because scholars can use these macro trends to pinpoint evolutionary mutants like Sir Walter Scott. “It’s very tantalising to think that you could study an author effect,” Jockers says. “So that there’s this author who comes on the scene and does something, and that perpetuates these ripples in the pond of prose.” What they have right now is more like a teaspoon of prose. To achieve what they really want—the ability to make generalisations about all of literature without generalising, because they are supported by data—what they need is a much larger archive. An archive like Google's.
The Library And Its Proprieter If Google Books is like a haphazardly organised used-book shop, as one university provost has described it, Daniel J. Clancy is its suitably rumpled proprietor. The freckled former leader of an information-technology research organisation at Nasa is now engineering director of Google Books. He works a few miles down the road from Jockers on a surreal corporate campus that feels like it was designed by students high on LSD: lava lamps, pool tables, massage parlors, balloons, gourmet grub, a British-style red phone booth,
LINGUISTICS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS ALLOWS ONE TO TAKE MASTERPIECES, TOSS THEM INTO A DATABASE, THEN CAST GIANT DIGITAL NETS INTO THE MEGAPOT OF WORDS AND HUNT FOR PATTERNS
NOVELS ARE SPECIFIC. STATISTICAL STUDY OF THEM CAN BE MISLEADING. WHAT YOU INCLUDE AS A NOVEL MAY BE MORE SLIPPERY THAN A NUMBER CAN PORTRAY
doors that lead nowhere, and rafters hung with a toy snake. A proposed settlement he negotiated with authors and publishers would permit the use of millions of in-copyright works owned by universities for “non-consumptive” computational research, meaning large-scale data analysis that is not focused on reading texts. Clancy would turn over the keys to his bookshop, plus US$5-million, to one or two centres created for this work—the centres that Stanford and others hope to host. “It’s pretty simple,” he says. “We’ll give them all the books.” Clancy says this with the no-big-deal breeziness of someone who works for a Silicon Valley empire of nearly 21,000 employees, one whose products creep into every media business. But for scholars, those three words—“all the books”—are a new world. The digital content available to them until now has been hit or miss, and usually miss, says John M. Unsworth, dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, one of the partners in the HathiTrust consortium. July 2010 EDU TECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE Google Changes Bookworms Google has changed the landscape. Pouring hundreds of millions into digitisation, the company did in a few years what Unsworth believes would have taken libraries decades: It has digitised over 12 million books in over 300 languages, more than 10 percent of all the books printed since Gutenberg. “We haven’t had digitised collections at a scale that would really encourage people broadly—across literary studies and English, say—to pick up computational methods and grapple with collections in new ways,” Unsworth says. “We are about to do that now.” But here’s the rub. Google Books, as others point out, wasn’t really built for research. It was built to create more content to sell advertisements against. And it was built thinking that people would read one book at a time. That means Google Books didn't come with the interfaces scholars need for vast data manipulation. And it isn’t marked with rigorous metadata, a term for information about each book, like author, date, and genre. Back in August 2009, Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information, wrote an article for The Chronicle that declared Google's metadata a “train wreck”. The tags remain a “mess” today, he adds.
GOOGLE DID IN A FEW YEARS WHAT WOULD HAVE TAKEN LIBRARIES DECADES: IT HAS DIGITISED OVER 12 MILLION BOOKS IN OVER 300 LANGUAGES
When scholars start trying large-scale projects on Google Books, he predicts, they’ll have to engage in lots of hand-checking and hand-correction of the results, “Because you can't trust these things.” Classification is particularly awful, he adds. A book's type— fiction, reference, etc.—is key information for a scholar like Jockers, who can’t track changes in fiction if he doesn't know which books are novels. "The average book before 1970 at Google Books is misclassified," Nunberg says. Clancy counters that Google has made "a ton of progress" improving the data, a claim backed up by Jean-Baptiste Michel, a Harvard systems-biology graduate student with intensive experience using the corpus for research. Clancy also points out that the metadata come from libraries and reflect the quality of those sources. Many of the problems always existed, he says. It’s
EDU TECH July 2010
just that people didn’t know they existed, because they didn’t have Google’s full text search to find the mislabeled books in the first place. And Google is finally opening its virtual stacks to digital humanists, with a new research programwhose grant winners are expected to be announced by the end of May. But don’t expect text-mining to sweep the humanities overnight. Or possibly ever. “There are still a tremendous number of historians, for example, that are really doing very traditional history and will be,” says Clifford A. Lynch, director of the Coalition for Networked information. “What you may very well see is that this becomes a more commonly accepted tool but not necessarily the center of the work of many people.”
Clash of Methodologies As humanities struggles with financial stress and waning student interest, some worry that the lure of money and technology will increasingly push computation front and center. Katie Trumpener, a professor of comparative literature and English at Yale University who has jousted with Moretti in the journal Critical Inquiry, considers the Stanford scholar a deservedly influential original thinker. But what happens when his “dullard” descendants take up “distant reading” for their research? “If the whole field did that, that would be a disaster,” she says, one that could yield a slew of insignificant numbers with “jumped-up claims about what they mean”. Novels are deeply specific, she argues, and the field has traditionally valued brilliant interpreters who create complex arguments about how that specificity works. When you treat novels as statistics, she says, the results can be misleading, because the reality of what you might include as a novel or what constitutes a genre is more slippery than a crude numerical picture can portray. And then there’s the question of whether transferring the lab model to a discipline like literary studies really works. Trumpener is dubious. Twenty postdocs carrying out one person’s vision? She fears an “academia on autopilot”, generating lots of research “without necessarily sharp critical intelligences guiding every phase of it”. Her skepticism is nothing new for the mavericks in Moretti’s lab. When presenting work, they often face the same question: “What does this tell me that what we can't already do?” Their answer is that computers won’t destroy interpretation. They’ll ground it in a new type of evidence. Still, sitting in his darkened office, Moretti is humble enough to admit those “cellars of culture” could contain nothing but duller, blander, stupider examples of what we already know. He throws up his hands. “It’s an interesting moment of truth for me,” he says. Jockers is less modest. In the lab, as the day winds down and chatter turns to what might be the next hot trend in literary studies, he taps his laptop and jackhammers his knee up and down. “We’re it," he says.
The Gospel of Well Educated Guessing It is an attitude that isn’t the norm in mathematics classes, where down-to-the-decimal accuracy is prized. For some students, who are used to getting the right answers, the transition can be tough BY TOM BARTLETT
ow much money is in a Brinks truck? A lot, certainly, assuming it’s full. But is it a million? A hundred million? Somewhere in between? Most of us, when presented with such a question, throw up our hands. Sanjoy Mahajan sharpens his pencil. To say that Mahajan, a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a good guesser doesn’t do him justice. He can start with seemingly zero information and, after some furious scribbling and rapid-fire explanations, come up with an answer that’s close to the mark. Take the Brinks truck. He begins by estimating its size, figuring that it’s big enough inside for a person to stand up or lie down. It probably has nooks and crannies, but he assumes, for the sake of simplicity, that it does not. As for the money, he figures the truck is filled with stacks of twenties, because thousand-dollar bills are rare, and a truck filled with ones seems silly. The engine, he assumes, is similar to that of a pickup, which can haul a ton or two. Eventually, after estimating the weight and density of the bills, he arrives at a number: US$20-million. How close is that? Well, the Brinks people tend to be tight-lipped about such things (a spokeswoman politely declined to provide a figure), but the largest heist on record is said to be US$18-million. So he’s in the ballpark. And ballpark is all he’s aiming for. Trying to be too exact can be paralysing; or, as he likes to say, rigour leads to rigour mortis. That’s the message of his new book, Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving, in which he lays out his principles for back-ofthe-envelope calculations, including divide and conquer, take out the big part, and trust your gut. The book isn’t light reading (binomial coefficients, anyone?), but the core ideas don’t require Algebra II: The world is messy, so do the best you can. You know more than you think you do. Use whatever tools are available to do the job. It’s as much an attitude as a technique. And it’s an attitude that isn’t the norm in mathematics classes, where down-to-the-
THE BOOK ISN’T LIGHT READING BUT THE CORE IDEAS DON’T REQUIRE ALGEBRA II: IT SAYS—THE WORLD IS MESSY, SO DO THE BEST YOU CAN
decimal accuracy is prized. For MIT students, who are used to getting the right answers, the transition can be tough. “There was a lot of nervousness at the beginning of the class,” says Sean Clarke, a graduate student in biological engineering. A few weeks in, though, students were coming up with their own July 2010 EDU TECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE problems—and the class gets consistently high marks in student evaluations. Mahajan, 41, is bespectacled and boyish despite a smattering of gray hair. A physicist by training, he’s associate director of MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory and sort of floats between departments. His affinity for math extends to childhood. When he was a toddler, he informed his parents, correctly, that a heating coil on the ceiling was a hexagon. In first grade, he told his teacher he wanted to be a mathematician when he grew up. The teacher cheerfully announced to the class: “Sanjoy wants to be a magician!” They were both right, in a sense: some of the calculations he pulls off have a hint of Houdini. For instance, he can start with two paper cones, to find the relation between drag force and velocity, and—believe it or not—arrive at the cost of a round-trip plane ticket from New York to Los Angeles. He works out the problem in a blur of equations, remarking that a gram of gasoline and a gram of fat contain the same amount of energy, that drag force is proportional to velocity squared, and so on. The number he arrives at (US$700) isn’t the cheapest deal out there, but it’s roughly right. The airfare example is well-rehearsed. I decided to see how he’d cope with an unfamiliar quandary. How much, I asked him, is the annual state budget of Delaware? He didn’t know the state’s population, but he knew that California has about 40 million people and, creatively applying Zipf’s law, a statistical observation from which it can be asserted that the largest city is twice the size of the second-largest, he determined that Delaware has about a million people. It’s actually 885,122. So far, so good. He then assumed that everyone makes $50,000 a year. Some
make more, no doubt, and some don’t make anything, but this seemed reasonable. He further assumed that the state income tax is 5 percent, the same as in his home state, Massachusetts. He wasn’t sure that Delaware has an income tax (it does) but figured that, even if it didn’t, revenues from sales taxes would probably be equivalent. Final answer: $2.5-billion. The actual number for the 2010 fiscal year is $3-billion. For comparison purposes, the budget of neighboring Pennsylvania is $29-billion. Not bad at all. A few years ago, Mahajan became a friend of Jeff Schmidt, a former editor of Physics Today, who sued that publication after he was fired and got an undisclosed settlement. When a reporter asked Mahajan to estimate the size of the settlement, he came up with US$500,000—assuming that, with back pay and damages, Schmidt would have asked for around a million and settled for half. The lawyers for the company that owns Physics Today accused Schmidt of revealing the figure to Mahajan—which Schmidt said wasn’t true. “They didn’t know he was one of the world’s experts in estimation,” he told me, adding that getting to know Mahajan was “almost worth getting fired”. I attended one of Mahajan’s classes recently. Afterward I asked him for advice about getting back to the airport. He suggested that I walk across the campus, take the subway, get off three stops later, and wait for a shuttle. Once I did that, printed my boarding pass, and made it through security, Mahajan estimated, I’d arrive at the gate at 4pm. When I did make it to my gate, I checked the time: 3:54pm. Close enough.
The Campus Green: Trampled by the Wheels of LEED? As sustainability becomes cardinal, schools are responding to the need for effective displays of environmental stewardship. But at what price? BY MARK H. HOUGH
ustainability remains a ubiquitous catchword on college and university campuses across the country. As institutions spend time and energy trying to meet design and construction standards dictated by sustainability goals, however, they risk losing sight of
EDU TECH July 2010
larger issues involving campus character and cultural heritage—particularly with regard to the landscape. This poses a serious problem, for there are few American landscape types that can rival the academic campus in depth of tradition and history. While there is no singular vision, the
LEED-CERTIFIED BUILDINGS CAN BE BEAUTIFUL, BUT SIMILAR SUCCESS OFTEN FAILS TO TRANSLATE ONTO THE LANDSCAPE
image most closely associated with the campus landscape is that of lush open lawns framed by appropriately scaled buildings and mature canopy trees. Such imagery has long shaped campus planning and design in this country, and continues to evoke memories and instil passions for these special places. However, since we no longer have the luxury of seemingly unlimited resources of land, water and energy, around which to plan our campuses, the viability of such a landscape model is being brought into question. As campus design is increasingly viewed through the lens of sustainability, institutions are rightfully doing their part and responding to the need for more effective and visible displays of environmental stewardship. But at what price? Calls for more sustainable campus landscapes have not, to this point, included rallying cries promoting the removal of historic or sacred campus lawns, no matter how unsustainable they may be. These are places that have deep and committed support for their preservation, notably from the Getty Foundation, whose Campus Heritage Grants program awarded 86
grants totaling more than US$13.5-million to higher-education institutions between 2002 and 2007. But such programmes have been dwarfed by the emergence of the green-building movement: As the demand for more energy-efficient buildings grew exponentially, the US Green Building Council stepped in with its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system at the turn of the century to fill a void in the relatively new field. Cleverly marketed, LEED was quickly adopted as the accepted litmus test for excellence, promising a quantifiable measurement system that would provide an objective rating on the relative sustainability of a project. This system fed the need to “keep up with the Joneses”, stirring the competitive juices of peer institutions across the country. By the middle of this decade, bragging rights accompanied every new LEED-certified project, an ante soon raised by the promise of buildings with silver, gold, and even platinum certification, the current holy grail of campus architecture. As of the spring of 2010, there were 3,813 higher-education projects in the process of LEED certification. This paints a rosy picture, and there has been undeniable success within the LEED system in relation to campus architecture. But it is important to recognise that the system has significant shortcomings. For instance, although it has been proven many times that LEED-certified buildings can be beautiful and contextually appropriate, similar success often fails to translate equally onto the landscape. I say this not as an indictment against those doing the design work, but rather as criticism of how LEED has promoted the design of buildings and their sites as stand-alone, self-contained entities, often ignoring the importance of the larger campus context and the value of precedent and consistency in character. Such compartmentalisation reflects a way of thinking befitting a developer far more than that of a campus planner or designer, who typically plans buildings as integral pieces of a comprehensive system, not as islands. Campuses by definition are collections of buildings situated within a unifying landscape, and by failing to recognise the inherent sustainability of this model, institutions miss the big picture. In fairness, the green-building council is working to remedy such shortcomings by developing LEED programmes specific to neighbourhoods and campuses. A separate project, the forthcoming Sustainable Sites Initiative, developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects (a group I am involved with) and other groups, will more holistically evaluate site and landscape conditions. But there is no telling how long it will take for such efforts to make sizable inroads into the LEED-dominated system, or whether they will, in fact, change the rules in relation to campus landscape design. Each of these additions is welcome and inspires hope but still seems to reflect a fundamentally onesize-fits-all point-based system that may not properly represent the importance of cultural landscape heritage on the campus. There is also no way to predict how the LEED system will ultimately change the look of our landscapes, but an emerging new campus-design vocabulary is influencing the issue. Where July 2010 EDU TECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE conversations were once dominated by discussion of open lawns, they now contain references to landscape elements such as rain gardens and native meadows that promote storm-water management and may garner coveted LEED points for a project seeking certification. Although they may support environmental and pedagogical goals, such features are still foreign elements on many traditional campuses and need to be evaluated as such. Promoted as attractive, low-maintenance alternatives to lawn, they can require intensive upkeep and demand a level of horticultural expertise beyond what is available or affordable to most college and university grounds-maintenance staffs. This raises the question: Just how sustainable is a landscape that cannot be maintained in an efficient manner? I am by no means against such landscapes being used appropriately on campuses, as they promote a proper use of our natural resources and display a commitment to environmental responsibility. But they should support larger-scale initiatives and adapt effectively to their context, rather than exist as anomalies related to a specific building project. We are so entrenched in the LEED system that even though it has provided the momentum needed to push us down the road toward environmental responsibility, it has become a convenient crutch that may keep us from striving to do more. We have been programmed to believe that once the LEED-certificaThis section is being republished with permission from The Chronicle Of Higher Education
EDU TECH July 2010
tion plaque is hanging on the wall, the task at hand is complete. We need to somehow lose this mind-set and realise that an energy-efficient building or landscape is only a small part of a very complicated equation. Creating a truly sustainable campus is a huge undertaking, one that will require a comprehensive, encompassing vision, and will not be achieved for many years, if ever. More and more colleges and universities are accepting this challenge and making great strides in establishing sustainability programmes and setting realistic target dates for cutting energy use and carbon emissions. However, we have yet to see the same widespread energy being spent on figuring out what sustainability in the campus landscape means from a cultural and aesthetic perspective. This is something all institutions need to be doing, and it should not be left to consultants or an objective and generic third-party rating system to figure this out for us. This is a subjective decision involving the heritage and character of individual campuses, and it needs to be made by the stewards of these campuses—from the planning, design, and maintenance staffs all the way up to the senior administrators and the boards of trustees. This issue—and these landscapes—are that important. —Mark H. Hough is campus landscape architect at Duke University and chairman of the campus planning and design network of the American Society of Landscape Architects
Edu Tech December 2009
Arun Shankar Nigavekar
NAME: Arun Shankar Nigavekar CURRENT ENGAGEMENT: Raja Ramanna Fellow, Senior Advisor and Trustee, Science and Technology Park, University of Pune DATE OF BIRTH: March 14, 1942
THINGS HE LIKES BOOK: MK Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments With Truth MOVIE: Mera Naam Joker FOOD: Ukadiche Modak (steamed dumplings with sweet coconut filling) MUSIC: Bhav Geet, especially Phite Andharache Jaale sung by Shridhar Phadke LOVES: Time spent with his grandchildren HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Dharamshala
Man On A Quality Quest His ambition to overhaul the Indian higher education pushed Arun S. Nigavekar to be the ‘change-maker’ BY PADMAJA SHASTRI 64
EDU TECH July 2010
sk Dr Arun Shankar Nigavekar his favourite quote, he says, “There is no substitute for quality education.” When you wish to know who said it, he replies, “Me!” Anyone else might have seemed immodest, but Nigavekar is the man whom A.P.J. Abdul Kalam called the “father of the quality movement in higher education”. Coming from him, the quote reflects his single-minded focus on quality. Thus, it’s difficult to imagine that in 1994, Nigavekar was reluctant to accept the post of the founder-director of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). “I was doing reasonably well as a professor of physics and co-ordinator of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Material Sciences at University of Pune,” he explains. Fortu-
AWARDS AND HONOURS Chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC)–2002-05 Member, Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet Advisor World Bank, Commonwealth of Learning Vice chairman, Asian Physics Education Network Life member, Indian Physics Association, founder-cum-life member, Materials Research Society of India and USA Unesco Honour for ‘development of university physics education’
Arun Shankar Nigavekar
nately, the academic was won over. Once convinced, Nigavekar dived right in. He devised an acclaimed methodology for judging Indian higher education—one which was endorsed by International Network for Quality Assuring Agencies in Higher Education.
Pursuing Excellence The bigger challenge was breaking the resistance to change and evolving a consensus among teachers and managers to accept scrutiny by an independent agency. “I had to struggle with ‘frozen’ attitudes,” says Nigavekar. He even had paper balls thrown at him. But he kept appealing to the conscience of the stakeholders till accreditation became de rigueur. “In this century, knowledge is the new currency. To create knowledge, we need sharper minds and that can happen only with relevant education.” As the youngest of four siblings born and raised in a lower-middle class family of Kolhapur, Nigavekar understood the value of education. “I never thought I would study further after my BSc, as there was no money,” he says. But, he stood first from Rajaram College, Kolhapur and won the Dakshina Fellowship that enabled him to join the MSc course (Physics) in Pune University. Though he landed a job with Fertiliser Corporation of India, his heart was in research. So, he was back in Pune, pursuing a PhD in materials science. Then he was off to Uppsala University for his post-doctoral research thanks to the Swedish International Development Agency Fellowship. On his return, he got a job with the National Physical Laboratory. But, the bureaucratic set-up stifled him and research beckoned. He returned to Pune to teach and research on surface physics and materials science. Though he does not teach anymore, Nigavekar is still a professor at heart. He believes that his stint as the visiting professor in University of York, UK, and University of Western Ontario, Canada, polished his skills. Even today, he is inundated with requests—nearly 40 a week— to speak at seminars. “Maybe, it’s the honesty of thought. Nobody ever doubts what I say,” he says. From his
mother he learnt the importance of honesty, integrity and nishkama karma. “She always said, if you do your job well, then you will get your reward,” he recalls. Nigavekar feels that her beliefs helped him survive, especially when he had to take tough decisions as the UGC chairman—de-recognising 120 universities created overnight by the Chhattisgarh government. Even death threats failed to deter him. “I never had to compromise, as I had no below-the-table agenda,” he says. Underneath that tough veneer, there is a kind man. When he was the vice chancellor at Pune University, even a grade-VI staff would be greeted with a note on birthdays. It is this combination
computers made their entry into the campus in eighties, laboratory experiments were improved and project work was introduced in the third-year. As the VC, he spent hours with the faculty developing a vision for his university, which attained the status of a “university with potential for excellence” under him. He introduced modular credit-based system at the postgraduate level in an integrated inter-disciplinary mode. Nigavekar believes that the need of the hour is a flexible structure. “It is not enough to study medicine to become a doctor. One needs to understand the economics, social and psychological aspects of medicine. Education is an all-pervad-
“IN THIS CENTURY, KNOWLEDGE IS THE NEW CURRENCY. TO CREATE IT, WE NEED SHARPER MINDS” of kindness, integrity and expertise that makes him so sought after. Institutions like World Bank and Commonwealth of Learning, Canada, seek his advice, as do firms working towards better education—MeritTrac and IL&FS Education.
Question Of Quality Nigavekar’s tryst with “quality education” started in the seventies, as he and his Pune University colleagues would sit discussing the education system. “It was a time when the sector was under a cloud. Being part of the system, we felt guilty. The way to reform was by being partners in the process,” he explains. Professors Ram Takwale, Shridhar Gupte and N.J. Pawar, and him, fought and won elections to Board of Studies, Academic and Management Councils. That enabled them to bring in change—
ing discipline. It is important to break barriers,” he says. Education reforms being talked of today, have basis in what Nigavekar talked about in the conceptual framework for the Tenth Five-Year Plan. National Knowledge Network taking shape today, has its foundations in the UGC Information Network he created as the chairman. He believes that academics should keep abreast of latest technologies. Currently, he is pouring over Stephen Covey’s The Leader in Me. The idea is to incorporate the best into the structure of an open online virtual school that he is developing.In the past 40 years, he has played almost every part in the field of education—teacher, mentor, developer, assessor, and advisor. “I enjoy every role,” says Nigavekar, who has performed in some Marathi plays. July 2010 EDU TECH
CLASSIC THINKING Book Review
The Law Of Higher Education
Essential reading for understanding the complexities of managing Higher Education Institutions THIS IS the perfect book if you wish to get a more global idea of the forces that affect higher education. The book is the fourth edition of US laws. This reference, research source, and practical guide, is an updated resource that addresses all the major developments in the decade since the publication of the third edition, including a new section on the relationship between law and policy; new materials on affirmative action in admissions and financial aid, including the Grutter and Gratz cases; new materials on speech codes and free speech zones; greatly expanded materials on faculty free speech and academic freedom; new material on intellectual property; computer security and free speech issues; discussion of the USA Patriot Act; additional information on immigration law; a revised and expanded discussion of the effect of tort law on academic and extracurricular programs; more attention to the federal regulation of research, and more.
Author: William Kaplin Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality In this text, Spring focuses on the educational and social construction of race and racism, and on educational practices related to deculturalisation, segregation, and the civil rights movement. He emphasises issues of power and control in schools and how the dominant “Anglo” class has stripped away the culture of minority people in the US. Spring gives an understanding of historical perspectives and how they impact current conditions and is critical to teachers’ success or failure in today’s diverse classrooms. The book is an ideal supplement for introduction/foundations of education, multicultural education, or any course that seeks to expand student notions of what US education has been, and is. In the fourth edition, Spring has included improved chapter conclusions and clarified material in all chapters, and has updated scholarship and treatment throughout.
AUTHOR: Joel Spring PUBLISHER: McGraw-Hill Humanities/ Social Sciences/Languages; 4 edition Price: US$ 39.20
NEW RELEASES Multiple Intelligences Around the World
THE BOOK will prove to be valuable for administrators, who work with diverse student populations. Experiences of examdriven countries such as Japan may be instructive to professionals faced with the task of improving both teaching and test scores.
WRITTEN FROM an African-perspective, the volume uses a discursive pedagogy that is anti-colonial in origin. It theorises the implications of imperial structures on knowledge production, use and pursuit of agency, and subjective politics.
AUTHOR: HOWARD Gardner PUBLISHER: Project Zero Publications PRICE: US$30
AUTHOR: GEORGE J. Sefa Dei PUBLISHER: Springer PRICE: US$ 151
EDU TECH July 2010
World’s First 3D DigiCam
The camera of the future is here
FUJIFILM HAS released the world’s first 3D digital camera “Finepix Real 3D W1” with two stereoscopic lenses (left and right) and two 10MP image sensors. The camera lets the user shoot both 2D and 3D images or videos, and view them on the 2.8-inch LCD screen without the use of 3D goggles. However, to view the 3D stereoscopic images on the computer, one has to wear the goggles, or has to purchase the 3D Viewer from Fujifilm.
Price: Rs 39,999
GADGETS The Phone That Has Everything THE GARMIN-ASUS Nuvifone M10 is a navigator phone that runs on Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Professional. The phone does not scrimp on its accessories at all. At first glance, what strikes users is the camera’s stunning clarity, and the brightness of the 3.5-inch OLED WVGA resistive touchscreen. The 1500 mAh battery in the phone is can last for 600 hours (standby time), and for eight hours of talk time.
Price: Rs 19,000
HP Goes Neck-To-Neck With Competitors HP LASERJET PROFESSIONAL P1606dn is a competitive
printer, that runs neck-toneck with other products in a similar price set. Its quick start-up scores for it, as does its sleek look. Support for USB printing would have given it that “real” edge over other printers.
Price: Rs 17,415
Seagate Announces 3TB Hard Drives SEAGATE, ONE OF the world’s most popular manufac-
LENOVO HAS RELEASED a laptop from its IdeaPad range which supports stereoscopic 3D—called the 3D IdeaPad Y560d. The laptop comes with polarised 3D glasses that allow full enjoyment of the dimensional effect. It operates on Windows7 Home Premium 64 and comes with a one-year warranty. It has a total memory of 4GB PC38500 DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz and also flaunts a 15.6” HD Wide LED-3D 1366x768 display.
turers of storage solutions, recently announced its intention to release the world’s first 3TB hard drive. This will be one of the first highcapacity hard drives to be released as an external HDD first, instead of as an internal HDD. It will be available as a part of the GoFlex FreeAgent Desk line.
Price: US $1,499
Price: US $250
Lenovo Releases Its 3D IdeaPad
July 2010 EDU TECH
LEGACY “Agree to the demands of the students, because they never agitate for anything that doesn’t deserve your favourable attention”
Sir JC Ghosh The ‘Different’ Director
A joke that made the rounds at IIT Kharagpur campus right after it was established was— “Did you notice, there are more gulmohar trees around ever since he joined...” The “he” was Dr JC Ghosh, the first director of the first Indian IIT at Kharagpur. The joke was that Ghosh had not only brought to the table his experiences from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore (from where he was called in by Jawaharlal Nehru for the IIT), but IISc’s gulmohar trees as well. Ghosh is remembered by colleagues and students for being a visionary. Though he headed one of the first world-class technical schools of the nation, he was not an engineer by profession. However, he understood that to create a talent pool of “global” students, a mishmash of training (in arts, culture, science, management and, of course, technology), was needed—and he went on to create this new breed in quite a revolutionary fashion. First, he smashed the concept of separate kitchens. He made students from across states, cultures and religions, eat together—an unheard-of concept in those days. He placed a student at the helm of the institute mess (again not heard of) and removed the hostel warden when his students complained. His mantra—“I have the best students in the country. They know what is right”—worked like magic! Given the responsibility, students rose to meet his expectations. A first-class in chemistry, Ghosh was committed to research. His colleague, former IIT director Dr J. Sanyal, reminisces, “He brought the attitudinal aroma of the IISc and imported the right people and laboratory culture to the IIT.” Sanyal adds that Ghosh used contacts with countries such as Sweden, England, France, the US, Russia and Hong Kong to get the “experts” on board. Ex-student M.N. Faruqui, former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), believes that Ghosh’s main legacy was IIT’s “cosmopolitan environment. “It was said that Kharagpur’s food made students cosmopolitan. If you survived, you could eat anything, go anywhere and do anything.(laughs). Everyone understood that he was making a point through the integrated kitchen—that we were an Indian and a scientist first.” “He would say ‘agree to the demands of the students, because they never agitate for anything that doesn’t deserve your favourable attention’. My experiences with students at AMU taught me that Ghosh’s stance worked. In 1954 when he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University we did not wish him to leave and went on strike. He dedicated his life to the nation. With each transfer he lost salary, but that was not important for him—education was,” Faruqui remembers. A teacher who taught through personal example. — By Rohini Banerjee with inputs from M.N. Faruiqui, former VC, Aligarh Muslim University, and J. Sanyal, former Director, IIT, Kharagpur If you would like to share similar stories with readers of this publication please write to the Editor, EDU at email@example.com
EDU TECH July 2010
FIELD A professor of Chemistry THE JOURNEY 1909 Joined Presidency College, Kolkata 1915 MSc in Chemistry from University of Calcutta 1919-1921 Doctoral research from University College, London. He received the Palit Scholarship from Calcutta University 1921-1939 Dacca University 1937-1947 Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 1948-1954 Director at the IIT Kharagpur. He created most of the departments of the Institute 1954 Appointed as the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University 1955 He joined the Planning Commission where he was a member till his death MAN ON MISSION He was president of the Indian Science Congress (1939), president of the National Institute of Sciences of India (1943). He was knighted in 1940 for his contributions to science in the country
Dean Shankar Sastry talks to EDU about the new breed of engineers