EDU | VOLUME 02 | ISSUE 02
A 9.9 MEDIA PUBLICATION FEBRUARY 2011 WWW.EDU-LEADERS.COM
Indira Parikh Founder Director, FLAME
S.B. Mujumdar Founder, Symbiosis Society
Bijendra Nath Jain Vice Chancellor, BITS, Pilani
FOR LEADERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Debashis Chatterjee Vice Chancellor, IIM Kozhikode
dream catchers Eight visionaries discuss their wish list for 2011 Pg 16
Suranjan Das Vice Chancellor, University of Calcutta
Amita Chatterjee Vice Chancellor, Presidency University
Ashok Kolaskar Vice Chancellor, KIIT
Parag Diwan Vice Chancellor, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
SCALE UP FOR THE RIGHT REASONS AND AT THE RIGHT PACE P32
VARSITIES NEED TO OPT FOR RELEVANT BENCHMARKS P42
YEA OR NAY? SHOULD YOU GO THE E-BOOK WAY? P46
FOREWORD To Catch A Dream
“WE CALL THESE EIGHT LEADERS OUR DREAMCATCHERS BECAUSE THEY HAVE MANAGED TO DISENTANGLE THE GOOD FROM THE BAD”
or this issue of EDU, we gave a simple task to eight higher education leaders: make a wish list. Our leaders wrote about their hopes and desires for 2011—making the education system student-centric, providing greater access to quality education and clarity in government policies. As we read them, we realised our leaders were dreaming of big and small changes in 2011—they were our dreamcatchers. The idea of a “dreamcatcher” originated in the Native American community of the Ojibwa Nation. Traditionally, the Ojibwas constructed dreamcatchers by tying sinew strands in a web around a small, round frame of willow, decorated with feathers and beads. The item was hung above the bed and used as a charm to protect children from nightmares. The Ojibwa believed that a dreamcatcher could change dreams, filtering out the bad ones, while allowing the good ones to pass through and flow down to the sleeper through the feathers. Today, the Indian education sector seems plagued by nightmares. We call our eight leaders our dreamcatchers because they have managed to disentangle the good from the bad. They have come up with more than a simple wish list: their ideas present an inspiring and well-aligned vision for the future. Dreamcatchers became a symbol of unity among Native American nations as they fought against oppression by settlers. I hope we can align and unite ourselves around our Indian higher education dreamcatchers (those covered in the magazine and those not) and their ideas for a better future. And, I hope the powers-that-be understand the needs of the education sector and help us to make our united dreams a reality, rather than perpetuate more nightmares.
Dr Pramath Raj Sinha email@example.com
February 2011 EDUTECH
CONTENTS EDU FEBRUARY 2011
06 APPEAL 07 BID REPORT 08 START DEMAND 09 WELFARE
12 RAHUL CHOUDAHA Working across disciplinary boundaries is becoming necessary in the new system of liberal education 14 DHEERAJ SANGHI Will the new UGC rules help deemed universities progress, or will they just hold back tech education hubs?
32 STEPPING UP HEIs across the country are scaling up fast. Find out how you can do it right By Padmaja Shastri
42 BENCHMARKING Institutes are adopting benchmarking to attract the crème de la crème of faculty and students By Dhiman Chattopadhyay
I believe academic programmes should allow benchmarking”
16 DREAMCATCHERS Heads of institutions share their expectations on the changes they hope to see in 2011 By Rohini Banerjee
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE Learn more about what’s currently happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU
—H.M. DESAI, VC, DHARAMSINH DESAI UNIVERSITY, NADIAD
46 E-BOOKS E-books have faced a long journey to acceptability. Now there is little doubt about their utility By Tushar Kanwar
50 AARON B. SCHWARZ Why Indian campuses need to think vertically to beat space constraints
EDUTECH February 2011
FOR LEADERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
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FACE-TO-FACE 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30
B.N. JAIN S.B. MUJUMDAR INDIRA PARIKH AMITA CHATTERJEE DEBASHIS CHATTERJEE SURANJAN DAS PARAG DIWAN ASHOK KOLASKAR
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54 TOP SIX SMARTPHONE APPS TO IMPROVE TEACHING, RESEARCH, AND LIFE By Jeffrey R. Young
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A 9.9 MEDIA PUBLICATION FEBRUARY 2011 WWW.EDU-LEADERS.COM
EDU | VOLUME 02 | ISSUE 02
60 ROADMAP TO INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION By Amrita Dass
Certain content in this publication is copyright of The Chronicle of Higher Education and has been reprinted with permission
Indira Parikh Founder Director, FLAME
S.B. Mujumdar Founder, Symbiosis Society
Bijendra Nath Jain Vice Chancellor, BITS, Pilani
FOR LEADERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Debashis Chatterjee Vice Chancellor, IIM Kozhikode
dream catchers Eight visionaries discuss their wish list for 2011 Pg 16
Suranjan Das Vice Chancellor, University of Calcutta
Amita Chatterjee Vice Chancellor, Presidency University
Ashok Kolaskar Vice Chancellor, KIIT
Parag Diwan Vice Chancellor, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
SCALE UP FOR THE RIGHT REASONS AND AT THE RIGHT PACE P32
VARSITIES NEED TO OPT FOR RELEVANT BENCHMARKS P42
YEA OR NAY? SHOULD YOU GO THE E-BOOK WAY? P46
Cover Art: DESIGN: ANIL VK
Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling
February 2011 EDUTECH
at a glance 07 08
DEMAND 09 WELFARE 09 VOICES & MORE
RAMDAS PAI RECEIVES PADMA BHUSHAN Dr Ramdas Pai, the Chairman of Manipal Education and Medical Group, has been conferred the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to the fields of education, healthcare and literature. Under his leadership, the Manipal grop has set up campuses across the globe including Nepal, Malaysia and the UAE. He has also helped set up the Manipal Foundation that pursues developmental activities—from offering scholarships and freeships worth ` 15 million for meritorious students, to running maternal and child welfare homes for the rural population and sponsoring free heart surgeries for children belonging to the lower socio-economic strata.
Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur, is one of the management schools in India that plans to file a writ petition against the AICTE
B-schools Oppose Panel Decision Associations fear that AICTE rule could hamper business education in India
ondemning a decision taken by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMA) and Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI) have decided to file a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, challenging a notification that could impact the quality of management education in India. The institutes are opposing a notification issued by the AICTE on December 28, 2010, in response to a PIL filed in the Punjab and Haryana high courts. The PIL sought to regulate the admission process and curriculum for postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) courses. The notification prohibits B-schools from conducting tests for PGDM courses. Many institutes including the Xavier Labour Relations Institute, SP Jain, Birla Institute of Management Technology and Management Development Institute conduct admission tests. The B-schools are also against the council’s decision that makes it mandatory for every approved PGDM programme to be conducted over 24 months. Most institutes also accept scores of entrance exams such as CAT, XAT, MAT and ICFAI. There are also institutes that enrol students for their PGDM programme without any test.
EDUTECH February 2011
HIMACHAL PRADESH’S TECH HUB APPOINTS FIRST VC The Himachal Pradesh government has appointed Professor Shashi K. Dhiman as the Vice Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh Technical University, Hamirpur. The state government set up the university in July 2010. It is the fourth university in the state. Before joining as the Vice Chancellor, Professor Dhiman was the Director of the University Institute of Information Technology, and the Chairman at the department of physics in Himachal Pradesh University, situated in Shimla.
ETHAMES GRADUATE SCHOOL SETS UP CAMPUS IN INDIA EThames Graduate School, one of London’s leading colleges, has opened its India campus in Hyderabad. Students from across the country can study for British qualifications at this campus and benefit from advanced teaching methods and latest classroom technologies. Courses offered include undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in management, undergraduate degree in computers, besides courses in hospitality, tourism and healthcare.
IIT-B Bids For New York Campus New York City’s development panel may provide land and capital to IIT Bombay for science school
ndian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT Bombay) is preparing a proposal to set up a new campus for applied science courses in New York. The institute has formed a committee for this. The proposal is likely to be sent to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) next month. IIT Bombay will be among the top global institutions to have received this IIT Bombay looks at international expansion plans invitation from the NYCEDC. N Y C E D C i s o ff e r i n g a website. The last date for submitting unique opportunity to develop a prethe proposals is March 16. mier science and research facility and With more than 6,26,000 students and campus in New York, according to its 39 percent of global market capitalisa-
tion, New York is a business and academic capital. According to a senior faculty at IIT Bombay, the institute received the NYCEDC invitation three weeks ago. If the IIT Bombay proposal is selected, the NYCEDC will provide capital and land to set up the campus. However, the centre will have to sustain its functions, once the primary infrastructure is developed. In order to maintain a diverse and competitive economy, the panel seeks to strengthen its applied sciences capabilities, particularly in fields which lend themselves to commercial opportunities, the NYCEDC members said.
B-schools Face Globalisation Challenge GLOBALISATION IS BOTH the biggest opportunity and the greatest challenge for B-schools worldwide as they struggle to keep up with the demand for graduates who can work across cultures, says a report released recently. The 346-page report is the result of a three-year study by a task force of deans and scholars from top B-schools worldwide. Despite all efforts, “a frustratingly wide curriculum gap remains alongside large risks of misdirected and incoherent strategies,” says the report, issued by AACSB International. It states that most business schools place more emphasis on studying abroad, than on developing a “global content” within the curriculum. That is largely because the number of new faculty with global experience and insight is small, while at the same time B-schools’ budgets are tight—especially after the recession. Since scholars have few outlets for publishing articles about global business problems, those who are hoping for promotions have fewer incentives to tackle complex international issues, the authors say.
page report states ‘globalisation’ as the main challenge before B-schools
Source: AACSB International
year-long study sheds light on students’ and teachers’ struggle to face complex international issues
February 2011 EDUTECH
AMU To Start Two Women’s Colleges, Polytechnics Biz hubs to be established at Murshidabad in West Bengal, and Malappuram in Kerala
he Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), P.K. Abdul Aziz, has announced that AMU will set up two women’s colleges and polytechnics, one each at Murshidabad in West Bengal and Malappuram in Kerala, from the next academic session. The announcement was made at the Founder’s Day programme of AMU Women’s College held recently. Speaking at the event, the Uttarakhand Governor, Margaret Alva, said: “Our higher education system has operated more for the rich than for the poor, more for the urban than for rural child, and more for boys than for girls.” She emphasised the importance of education as a liberating tool for women. Paying homage to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the founder of AMU Women’s College, and his wife, Waheed Jahan, Alva said both personalities championed the
“c o n s i d e r a b l y lower” than the national average. “And, in the case of Muslim women, it is even lower. We need to change that,” she added. Alva called upon educated women to look at life with a new perspective. Addressing the occasion, Alva AMU has produced graduates who have occupied important positions urged women to in all fields be ready to pay the cause of education for Muslim women. price, “but be a catalyst for change and They founded a girls’ school in 1906 and instruments of women’s liberation”. established the Female Education AssociaAligarh Muslim University’s Women’s tion later. The birth of Abdullah Girls’ College is 106 years old. The institute has School was a rare achievement. produced generations of graduates who Alva spoke about the literacy percentage have gone on to occupy important posiamong minority communities and how it is tions in all fields.
India’s Higher Education Needs 8 Million Seats The demand needs to be fulfilled in the next three years to sustain economic growth A RESEARCH CONDUCTED by The Parthenon Group’s Education Centre of Excellence projected that India’s higher education sector needs an additional eight million seats over the next three years in order to sustain economic growth. The Parthenon Group is a leading strategic advisory firm with deep experience in global education industries. Speakers from Parthenon shared analysis on various hot topics in the Indian education sector such as growth and investment opportunities in higher education and school sectors, and the scalability and success of private schools in India, among others.
EDUTECH February 2011
Presenting his findings on how foreign universities can help solve India’s higher education crisis, Robert Lytle, Partner and Co-Head of Parthenon’s Education Centre of Excellence, said, “The issues and challenges are the most dynamic in India. Even where demand for quality education seems insatiable, choosing the wrong value proposition or wrong business model will condemn you to failure. Conversely, informed choices allow you to build enduring, self sustaining, and expanding educational institutions.” Increasing higher education enrolment is central to India’s ability to compete in a global economy, as economic strength and Gross National Income per capita are closely linked to a country’s higher education enrolment ratio. It is necessary to grow the availability of high quality higher education in order to increase India’s competitiveness. For increasing its tertiary enrolment ratio, India needs a portfolio approach that incorporates both prestigious world-class and capital-efficient universities.
India To Take Up Fake Varsity Issue With Clinton US government to ‘attend’ to the sham varsity problem, country to keep a strict eye on fake institutions
ndia’s Foreign Secretary to the US, Nirupama Rao, will be taking up the issue of “radio tagging” of 1,500 Indian students, who were duped by the “Tri-Valley University” (TVU), with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. TVU in Pleasanton, a suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, was raided on January 25, 2011 and its “administrators” were charged of helping foreign nationals acquire immigration status illegally. Now, approximately 1,555 “university” students face the prospect of deportation following the closure of the university. A complaint filed by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office against the “sham” university alleged that the school’s founder and president, Susan Xiao-Ping Su, was using it to issue US visas to foreign nationals willing to pay for it. “The US is sensitive and attentive to the issue. We are proud that there are 1,03,000 Indian students studying in various American schools. We wish more students would come to America. We want our doors to be open for education,” said US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer. He added, the US is attentive to the problems of the Indian students. “We will have more to say once this case moves ahead,” Roemer added. The US has also assured that the Indian students, allegedly studying at the sham TVU, will be dealt with fairness. The assurance came after Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna spoke to the US Secretary of State,
Hillary Clinton. Krishna also impressed upon Clinton the need to find a humanitarian solution to the TVU tangle as many Indian students had come on a legal visa. “One option before the US government is to consider allowing the students on a case-by-case basis to leave the US voluntarily without prejudice, or to allow them to transfer to other universities or reinstate their visas’ status if they were already enrolled in legitimate universities which are prepared to take them,” he said. “Our government, through our embassy in Washington and consulates in America, has been working closely with the students who have unfortunately got caught in the scam,” he said. “We have had discussions with the ICE office, Department of Homeland Security and State Department, too,” he said, adding that India was providing students free legal assistance. “You will be happy to know that radio tagging has been removed, and other cases are being pursued,” he said. “I want to assure that we will spare no effort with the US authorities to get our students fair and humanitarian outcome,” he added. “Following the telephonic conversation between the External Affairs Minister of India and the US Secretary of State on February 13, the Indian Ambassador has conveyed to the Secretary of State details on the issue of the Indian students at Tri Valley University,” the Indian Embassy said.
“WHILE IMPROVEMENTS IN OUR HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM ARE NOTABLE AND IMPORTANT, many performance measures and outcomes are still unacceptably low, and we still have more work to do to serve our students and ensure they get a quality education that will give them opportunities for the future.” —BOBBY JINDAL Governor of Louisiana, United States of America
“OUR ENDEAVOUR SHOULD BE TO CREATE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD IN EDUCATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS so that students from all sections of society can enter premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).” —PRATIBHA PATIL President of India
“WE WILL BE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE IF HIGHER EDUCATION COMES OUT OF THIS [budget cycle] completely obliterated. You can shape that trajectory…The ask of legislators needs to be ‘Will you fight for higher education?,’ not just ‘Do you support it?’” —DEREK KILMER Member of the Washington State Senate, USA
February 2011 EDUTECH
Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries In B-schools
bility to think and work across disciplinary boundaries is becoming more important than ever. A white paper by the Teagle Foundation, US, argues, “A successful interdisciplinary programme—in addition to focusing on critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills expected of most liberal arts programmes— must develop student capacities to integrate or synthesise disciplinary knowledge and modes of thinking.” Interdisciplinary education had been highly valued by liberal arts institutions, especially at undergraduate levels, however, business schools have been slow to move beyond their silo-based learning approach. Warren Bennie and James O’Toole in their Harvard Business Review article—How Business Schools Lost Their Way—critiqued the current model of B-schools and argued: “The entire MBA curriculum must be infused with multi-disciplinary, practical and ethical questions and analyses reflecting the complex challenges business leaders face.” Jeffrey Pfeffer and Christina Fong in their article—The End of Business Schools? Less Success Than Meets the Eye—identified one of the ways B-schools can address the issue of relevance is by offering programmes, which do not restrict themselves to a “conventional set of functional courses, but instead
EDUTECH February 2011
recognise the interdisciplinary, inter-related world of modern business. This design element leaves them more veridical with the problems people face in actual management situations, where issues do not arrive to be solved segmented by discipline.” Interdisciplinarity is defined by Salter and Hearn as “any challenge to the limitations or premises of the prevailing organisation of knowledge or its representation in an institutionally recognised form.” Thus, interdisciplinary approach builds on the foundations of disciplinary knowledge to create new knowledge and solve complex problems. This approach aims at developing competencies like adaptability, critical thinking and innovation. Charlotte Woods identified three major arguments in favor of interdisciplinary learning and curriculum—educational benefits of critically examining one’s own discipline from another disciplinary perspective, the nature of the work is calling for more cross-functional and collaborative approach, and the global challenges require a new comprehensive problem-solving approach.
Interdisciplinary Programmes In the US, a new interdisciplinary degree called Professional Science Masters (PSM) has been gaining ground. The objective of PSM is to professionalise sciences, social sciences, and humanities
degrees to produce graduates with both disciplinary expertise and business skills. Within a decade of its launch, more than 100 universities are offering PSM degree. Dean David King of the State University of New York (Oswego) said, “It’s interdisciplinary. It’s a hybrid, which I think is more agile. It’s responsive to rapidly changing needs in terms of the job market”, in a recent New York Times article. Likewise, IBM had been promoting an interdisciplinary field of Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME) based on the premise that the global economy is increasingly becoming services and knowledge-driven, which requires a unique set of interdisciplinary competencies to innovate in the sector. SSME leverages the strengths of existing disciplines of engineering and management to develop T-shaped professionals who possess deep disciplinary expertise coupled with wide interactional expertise to understand and communicate across a wide range of disciplines and business functions. More recently, some of the best B-schools have been working to integrate interdisciplinary curriculum and research in their offerings. For example, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business
unemployment and underemployment among B-schools graduates clearly reflects inadequate skills among fresh graduates in the areas of communication, teamwork and big-picture problem solving approach. Indian B-schools have to broaden their own mindset by accepting that they are not in the business of offering MBA degrees. Instead they are in the business of developing talent, which innovates, improves and provides solutions to business and societal problems. Thus, one approach to make B-schools relevant is to consider some of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian society and collaborate to offer programmes, which go beyond disciplinary and geographical boundaries. Consider the challenges of higher education. Why can’t IIM Bangalore reach out to NIEPA, Delhi, to offer a course in Education Administration? Likewise, in the case of energy management, why should MDI (Gurgaon) not reach out to TISS (Mumbai) to offer a course in Human Services? Interdisciplinary approach can also help institutions in creating a unique position, and open up doors for international collaborations. Jindal Global
nterdisciplinary approach builds on the foundations of disciplinary knowledge to create new knowledge and solve complex problems
launched an interdisciplinary programme in healthcare; Stanford’s Law and Business schools announced creation of an interdisciplinary centre focusing on clean energy technology; Columbia Business School announced grant of $30,000 to $40,000 a year to faculty collaborating on interdisciplinary research and teaching; and Brown University partnered with Spain’s Instituto de Empresa (IE) to launch an Executive MBA (EMBA) programme with interdisciplinary liberal arts.
Opportunities for Indian B-schools In India, interdisciplinary orientation is very weak, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Early specialisation restricts students’ ability to holistically conceptualise and solve problems, and makes them inflexible to changes and demands for new skills. The case of
Business School (JGBS) is one such institution, which calls itself as “India’s first multi-disciplinary global business school”. JGBS has collaborated with Indiana University’s Kelly Business School for a new master’s in business and law degree. Interdisciplinary education and research builds on the foundations of disciplines and further enriches the disciplines and the practice. Without an orientation of learning from the strengths of different disciplines, many of the complex societal and business problems will remain unresolved or will be ineffectively resolved. B-schools have a responsibility to support development of effective talent pool and interdisciplinary approach offers just the right opportunity for delivering results. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters
Rahul Choudaha A higher education specialist based out of New York, Dr Choudaha specialises in strategic management of higher education, institution building, collaborations and market development. He holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Denver, an MBA from NITIE, Mumbai and BE from Jabalpur University. He can be reached at email@example.com
February 2011 EDUTECH
Of UGC, And New Rules For Deemed Universities
igher education in India continues to be overregulated. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has notified new rules for any college that desires to be a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act1956—“UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations-2010”.
Bear with me as I explain some of the rules. Among other things, if these are implemented, then it would mean that a trust (or society) that sets up a college will have pretty much no control over it—once it is declared as a “deemed-to-be” university. The university would be run by a board of management, which will have all power. Half of that board would be employees of the university: including the Vice Chancellor, two Deans, two Professors, Registrar, and Pro Vice Chancellor (if there is one). The sponsoring society can have only one nominee. The Centre will also have an Academician. He or she will be one among the three “eminent” academicians who may be nominated by the Chancellor to the board. The second aspect of the rule is that there will be no one from the industry on the board (unless the sponsoring society nominates one). There shall be no alumni on the board, (a rule that is incidentally against the current best practices for good governance of universities across the world). Board members,
EDUTECH February 2011
other than the Registrar and the society’s nominee, must be academicians. Under the new rules, promoters will not enjoy a freehand in appointing the Vice Chancellor. There will be a selection committee comprising a nominee of the Chancellor, the Government and the Board (remember that the board is not controlled by the promoters), that will select the Vice Chancellor. Lest the promoters try to control the board by appointing dummy Deans and Professors, who are then nominated onto the board, the rules clarify that Deans and Professors will be members of the Board by rotation. The Chancellor’s post itself cannot be occupied by the president of the society or relatives. It is expected that the society will nominate someone who is a distinguished public figure. Though well-meaning, I see far too many problems with this model.
Making Sense First of all, is it fair to ask promoters to relinquishcontrol of a university that they have created with a lot of care? Would it be fair to ask the Birla family to have nothing to do with BITS, or the Thapar family to wash their hands off Thapar University—incidentally, two of the best Indian institutions. Second point: is it fair to assume that a Board,
consisting of exclusively academics, will have sufficient experience to manage a university? Again, when world-class universities are contemplating about appointing their alumni and industry people on board, India is moving in a completely different direction. Also, rules state that a Vice Chancellor (VC) has to be the board’s “Chairman”. Question arises: who then evaluate the VC? Having an executive head, whose performance cannot be evaluated, is not good governance. Fourth, if the Centre believes that this is indeed the best model, why is it not bringing this model of governance for universities that it has promoted? Over the past decade, there have been numerous demands for more autonomy by IITs and IIMs. Such demands have been rejected by the Centre—it has specified that as a “promoter”, it must have control over these institutions. If the Centre feels that IITs and IIMs cannot be given autonomy simply because it has funded these institutions so far, why does the same logic not apply to privately-funded universities? The UGC rules go on to specify even small details: a 15-day notice requirement for holding a board meeting or a quorum of eight members. I have never
Rules also mandate that a deemed university must be residential. While most famous universities of the world are so, it is by no means a requirement to achieve excellence. So, why has this rule been drafted? Also, deemed universities will no longer remain autonomous to decide which programmes to run or discontinue. Anytime a new department is to be set up, UGC permission will be needed. If universities wish to grow beyond their current size, UGC permission will be needed. Why can’t a university decide its own course? New rules also forbid joint programmes between deemed universities, without UGC approval—even if it is between two Indian universities. Regulations also bar the use of the word “university” in a name—unless an institution has been using that word and has a stay from a court permitting it. Under the new rules, a deemed university will have to have a minimum of five disciplines. There have been examples of successful institutions that are focused—ISB for example, which can’t be a deemed school now. These rules also threaten to take away a university’s freedom to determine its fee for courses and
he message is clear. Innovation is not to be allowed in India. Will it be fair to ask the Birlas to have nothing to do with BITS?
heard of a quorum requirement of eight in a board of 10 people. The panel also specifies membership functions of a council, lists the standing committees of the board and their functions. The message is clear. Innovation is not to be allowed in India.
Shutting Doors Beyond governance, the UGC rules take away most of the autonomy that universities enjoy. When the new rules are implemented, admissions will become depended on pan-India tests. Deemed universities often offer direct admission to board toppers for their undergrad courses, which will now be illegal (though research shows that Class XII results are a better indicator of success). Similarly, having a limited number of seats under “sports quota” will become illegal. Incidentally, none of these rules will apply to the government universities.
makes Central regulations mandatory. One of the most important reasons why a deemed university has been able to provide quality education (compared to the affiliated colleges across the country) is because they are free to charge higher tuition fee. Quality education costs money.
A Looming Disaster Overall, the rules are a disaster for higher education. They remove the role of promoters from universities, discouraging companies and individuals from investing in education. They take away autonomy from universities and strengthen the role of a regulator to an unacceptably high degree—destroying islands of quality in a sea of mediocrity. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters
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.sanghi@ edu-leaders.com
February 2011 EDUTECH
Bijendra Nath Jain
Vice Chancellor, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani
Shantaram Balwant Mujumdar Director, Founder and Chancellor, Symbiosis Society
Founder Director, FLAME
Vice Chancellor, Presidency University
Vice Chancellor, IIM Kohzikode
Vice Chancellor, University of Calcutta
Vice Chancellor, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
Vice Chancellor, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology
EDUTECHâ€ƒ February 2011
Dream CATCHERS Eight educational leaders visualise how to propel higher education in India to world-class standards
past year has been an eventful one for the Indian higher education. Bills have been introduced, slashed and re-introduced in new avatars. However, to many, it seemed that Indian higher education took five steps forward and three back. For one, the plethora of policies, regulations, and rules introduced by the government left everyone baffled. The education leaders who we spoke to, admitted that they were confused by the governmentâ€™s array of policies. Others begged for a level playing field for government and private universities. Some even went on to suggest that if rules were simplified, then learning would be amplified. Another concern was that academics were tied down with bureaucratic trappings of paying attention to issues like mandatory attendance. Instead, the focus should be on training teachers and asking them to innovate pedagogy, learning and research.
BY ROHINI BANERJEE
February 2011â€ƒ EDUTECH
Bijendra Nath Jain
EDUTECH February 2011
Make FUNDING EQUAL Student issues, accreditation and funding top B.N. Jain’s wish list for this year
FACT FILE Name: Bijendra Nath Jain
BY SUBHOJIT PAUL
Designation: Vice Chancellor, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani Trivia: Professor Bijendra Nath Jain obtained a BTech from IIT Kanpur and PhD from SUNY, Stony Brook (NY) in electrical engineering He was a professor of computer science at IIT Delhi
think there are several initiatives that the government should pursue to promote excellence in research and technical education. But, first things first. Let’s talk of the real customers of the Indian higher education system, and India’s future knowledge and economic leaders—students. What the government must recognise is the significant contribution made by universities (private or government) in preparing these leaders. Therefore, instead of empowering an institution by funding it, the government must empower the beneficiary. It should introduce schemes that enable a student to take an education loan at a significantly subsidised interest rate, without requiring to provide a collateral or credit worthiness. The process should be simplified because every student deserves a chance.
Mandatory Accreditation While India has witnessed significant growth as far as opportunities and enrolment rates in higher education are concerned, we have not seen a corresponding improvement in quality. It’s not clear if the process of pre-approval of colleges, universities or programmes by statutory bodies or their subsequent inspection and verification, has been effective. A way to redeem the situation would be to introduce detailed guidelines for establishing institutions or programmes, followed by post facto fitness certification and mandatory accreditation for every programme. By itself, the task may be challenging, but it’s worth the attempt. Especially if the university plans to carry that certification or accreditation on its website as an advertisement of its star rating assigned by an agency.
Capital Investments BITS Pilani is a deemed-to-be university. It has expanded its programme bank by 200 percent in the past decade using loans taken at a marketdetermined interest rate. Since our university does not receive government or individual donation, we are obliged to recover our investments from tuition fees. At the same time, the institution determines the quality of students by offering freeships to meritorious pupils. It is the same case with most independent universities. Going forth, most such universities are now looking to consolidate their offerings by expanding their postgraduate and PhD programmes. This can happen if our government and industry (a beneficiary), develop and implement schemes whereby both parties underwrite a significant fraction of capital investments made in order to expand capability or capacity. Alternatively, they could also help subsidise loans in a significant manner.
Research And Innovation Funding The Centre’s mandate in 2010 has been to fund research and postgraduate education by helping build lab infrastructure, assistantships to research fellows, and fund basic and applied research in areas that are strategic to India’s development. While acknowledging the Centre’s initiatives, it also has to be acknowledged that the treatment of an independent university and that of a government initiative, is often dissimilar. In 2011, it would feel good to be treated in a similar fashion and see that processes used to provide funds are streamlined, so as to not disadvantage the independent universities. February 2011 EDUTECH
S.B. Mujumdar wasted no time pointing a finger at the complacent higher education sector and stressed on the need for excellence Freedom Of Education I believe that even in the higher education sector, the word freedom is a heavy one, analogous to India’s political freedom in 1947 and the economic freedom of 1991 when the “License Raj” was eliminated. Universities need intellectual freedom. Making them free from bureaucracy, will usher in real progress.
More Vocational Institutions The establishment of a number of vocational universities and colleges imparting skill-based education to the country’s youth should be another highlight of 2011, especially if we wish to utilise our so-called demographic dividend.
Boost To Private Distance Education The enactment of suitable legislations for the establishment of private distance education universities will help enhance the gross enrolment ratio and provide affordable higher education to every citizen at any time and place.
Name: Shantaram Balwant Mujumdar Designation: Director, Founder and Chancellor, Symbiosis Society Trivia: Dr Mujumdar passed his Master’s with a first-class (distinction) in botany
Shantaram Balwant Mujumdar
He was the head of the department of botany at Fergusson College for 20 years
Concerted measures and policy changes are required to make Indian education student-centric. There should be multiple choices and curriculum flexibility.
Entry Of Foreign Universities Entry of reputed foreign universities into India will force Indian universities to compete on the basis of excellence and quality. What better wish than hoping to see a less complacent higher education system?
BY MILIND WADEKAR
Make Curriculum Flexible
BY YUSUF KHAN
Theories Talented Teachers To Step In I wish to see a change in our version of the traditional mediocre students. I want to see teachers who are able to turn students into a bright leader by creating a learning environment where interests and passions flourish. Hopefully, 2011 will be a time for cultural and academic exchanges between the five continents. Interacting with international students would give a much needed global perspective
The year 2011 is all about students’ freedom—to choose, thrive and travel beyond borders, says Indira Parikh
institution and its departments should host exchange programmes.
More Hands-on Learning Problem solving and hands-on experiences, where students can actualise their experience, will become the core of the education system—if all my wishes came true. The most important thing will be to go beyond the theoretical framework.
Global Education Development Of A National Identity I would wish for students to not only travel to foreign shores, but also travel the length and breadth of their own country to experience the diversity of India. Ideally, every
Future of education will depend on whether India is able to empower its students to manage global ambiguity. Incremental growth is becoming rare, thus it is up to the higher education sector to provide a stable environment.
FACT FILE Name: Indira Parikh Designation: Founder Director, FLAME Trivia: Professor Parikh was in the faculty at IIM Ahmedabad for 30 years She has also taught at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, and Texas A&M University February 2011 EDUTECH
It’s never too late to make a new beginning or make learning fun for young adults, stresses Amita Chatterjee A change that I think the Indian higher education sector should witness in 2011 is an internal one— within the students’ minds. Education, especially higher education, is not about receiving grades. It’s about knowledge and discovery. It’s about fun. I believe, today’s youth don’t derive pleasure from the education that they receive. I hope that the teaching fraternity pro-actively work together to alter that mind set and make learning interesting.
semester, is 16 weeks at most. It is that long (or short) because teachers too need free time for library and laboratory work, and to travel to seminars and workshops. If a semester gets as long as an year, then a teacher will get little time for research, and the very purpose of introducing a semester system will be defeated. I do believe that the government is introducing well-meaning policies. But, at ground level, their implementation is not strong.
Free The Teaching Fraternity
Include The Not-so-privileged
Another change that I look forward to seeing in the immediate future, is the freedom of the teaching fraternity. By freedom I mean respite from the trappings of bureaucratic rules and regulations. An example will be the issue of compulsory attendance: the government and powersthat-be mandate that teachers spend five hours in their respective departments. That leaves the professor little time to conduct his or her research. Academics should be provided time to update their knowledge.
Another point that should be a priority for the government: inclusion of all sections of society in private and government-run institutions. We should open our doors to more participants from the underdeveloped sections of society. All things said and done, today in India, higher education is restricted to some segments of the society. To become a knowledge society and to raise India’s gross enrolment ratio (GER), intense focus should be on access to higher education.
Breaking The Silos Rationalisation Of Policies An important point on my wish list is the rationalisation of policies. Again, I can provide an example to explain. The University Grants Commission on one hand is trying to introduce the semester system. On the other, it has said that a semester should be year-long. Across the world, a
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Finally, I hope to witness a change of attitude in 2011—one that allows inter-disciplinary approach in higher education. Science and arts departments should not be created in isolation, because they don’t exist in isolation. Each of them feeds the other. My wish list, if fulfilled, may lead our education sector closer to the GER goal.
FACT FILE Name: Amita Chatterjee Designation: Vice Chancellor, Presidency University Trivia: Professor Chatterjee taught philosophy at Jadavpur University for 30 years
Learning For Pleasure
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AMPLIFY LEARNING The education business and the business of education should be kept apart, says Debashis Chatterjee
deally, the education experience should liberate the learner in students. Quality in education is unlike quality in business. If we need a centre piece in education, it would not be a building. The centre piece is the learning experience and is rooted through the student. In India, there is an intrinsic flaw in how education is conducted. If you go to a school and ask a teacher what she or he does, he or she will tell you that they “teach such-and-such subject”. Nobody says, “I teach a learner or a student”, which is the core of education. So, the first step that will make all the other steps (for educational reform) possible, is that the education sector should re-focus away from all peripheral concerns to the core issues—learning and the learner. Students should be the primary focus.
FACT FILE Name: Debashis Chatterjee Designation: Vice Chancellor, IIM Kozhikode Trivia: Professor Chatterjee taught for more than a decade in IIM Lucknow and Calcutta. He started the Global Centre for Leadership and Human Values at the IIM Lucknow
Educators’ Involvement Is Cardinal Educators should be left alone by all vested nonacademic interests to pursue the path of inclusive excellence that they have charted out for themselves. The steps to reform should be through educators because the education business and the business of education are different. And, I believe that a teacher truly understands the learner the best. Thus, educators’ involvement is cardinal.
Teaching Fraternity There should be space for innovative thinking and time for research. Teachers need to have conversations across disciplines and research projects that breed creative ideas. The third concern
in 2011 should be how to balance the value of many with the value of money. Unless Indian education makes quality available to more students and lessens the ghettoisation of education, little change will occur in the system. At IIM Kozhikode, we believe that one of the ways of making education available to many more students is through the digital route and have been focusing on this. We introduced a two-year e-learning programme for managers who wished to pursue long-distance education. So, providing access should be a major concern in 2011 for all institutions across the country. But this access should be delivered without diluting the quality. The focus should not be on great CVs, but on great people. We need educators who are fond of what they do and are good at what they do. Thus, a basic level of teachers’ training would be essential—and I believe will be the focus of 2011.
Ask New Questions We must get past the past. They should ask fresh questions rather than wallow in old answers provided by crumbling institutions. In 2011, I wish to see more globalised ideas being introduced. In India, especially as far as business education is concerned, there is too much emphasis on the reality of others—we should globalise Indian ethos and norms (plurality, equity and diversity) and make the curriculum more localised, contextual and India-centric. February 2011 EDUTECH
Balance QUALITY WITH
Putting Content First One of the first things that comes to my mind is that the Centre will have to figure out a way to balance qualitative and quantitative growth. Obviously, inclusive growth is the target of higher education in this year—to expand higher education. We need to help more youth avail the benefits of higher education. At the same time, we need to see that there is qualitative growth of Indian higher education otherwise we will lose our place in the education map of the world.
Crippling Old Universities If the powers that be suddenly decide to start 10 new universities or 15 new colleges without taking into consideration the question of quality or infrastructure, then the very purpose behind starting them will be defeated. An institution can not survive without a library, a laboratory of some sort and without quality faculty. So, the focus should be to improve existing universities. If the target is to expand the GER, then crippling older institutions will not help establish a knowledgebased society. And creating new universities will raise the number of enrolments, but will not add positively to the education sector.
grants from the UGC. When education was brought into the Concurrent List, the idea was that it should promote development of higher education in the country, which has not happened.
Re-think Centres Of Excellence There should be a serious re-thinking by the Centre on ideas behind the Centres of Excellence. Though I have no problem with the idea of the centres, in a country like ours where there is so much regional variation, where the GER is low, I do not believe isolated centres of excellence can fulfill the mandate of education. The slogan in 2011 should be partnership for excellence.
Link Conventional And Emerging Subjects I hope that 2011 ushers in a balanced growth between conventional subjects and emerging areas. There are new subjects like bio-informatics or biotechnology which are emerging at the cost of biosciences and even social sciences. This should be rectified. Science and society can’t evolve unless there is balanced growth of knowledge. If a bio-medical scientist can’t really relate to the reality of his society, his medicine will not be successful. He has to understand which segment of his society requires what sort of medicine.
Growing Chasm There is a growing dichotomy between state and central universities. These need to be addressed immediately. If this trend continues, then by the end of the Eleventh Five Year Plan, state universities will be completely obliterated. More than 60 percent of Indian students pursue higher education through state universities. But a large chunk of the University Grants Commission’s grants go to central universities. Recently, the UGC identified nine universities with potential for excellence. Of the nine, five were state universities. But these five receive less
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University For Holistic Knowledge I fear, as educators, we are imparting a segmented education. A point that has also been highlighted by the Yash Pal Committee. As the Committee rightly pointed out, a university stands for universal and holistic knowledge, which unfortunately is not being imparted as a result of these specialised streams of knowledge. If the Bose or Shah institutes don’t interact with the Calcutta University, where do they expect to get their new batch of recruits at the end of the day?
FACT FILE Name: Suranjan Das Designation: Vice Chancellor, University of Calcutta Trivia: Dr Das is also the Honorary Director of the Netaji Institute For Asian Studies in Kolkata
Break down the silos of departments, subjects and topics, to work and grow in tandem in a knowledge society, says Suranjan Das
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Improve What Parag Diwan wishes for is an excellent year for his institution. His wish list will work for other administrators as well
ENROLMENTS AND PLACEMENTS
y wish list for 2011 is short. Most of the concerns are, I am afraid, selfish. The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies will be celebrating its eighth year in 2011. This year, I hope that it continues to do well, or perhaps, even better. My wishes focus on four prime areas of concern: campus, institute, faculty and government. I would also say that the wish list comprises steps that we have already started implementing in the institution. We hope to fine tune them by the end of the year. Finally an administrator’s concerns remain students, faculty, and finally the brand.
Hundred Percent Placement
FACT FILE Name: Parag Diwan
BY NITISH SHARMA
Designation: Vice Chancellor, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies Trivia: Dr Diwan is an institution builder, an author and a professor in new emerging technologies
When it comes to the year that has just started— my hopes surrounding my students is that they get great placements. I also hope that their transition from campus life to corporate is as smooth as it can be. There are several issues that govern this transition: lack of exposure is one. I hope, this year we will be able to provide the training that will make students’ transition into the real world easier.
Great Research Output I wish that specialised institutions like us successfully establish great research output and facilities. That will be our top priority. Ideally, every institution should move research to the top of their list.
Faculty Development Programmes The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies will be looking at extensive faculty development. To be a little more specific, we are targeting four core capacity development programmes. We will be looking at innovations in pedagogy, research aptitude, networking and consulting, and training programmes.
A Little More Clarity, Please I guess the consensus is clear—university administrators will be happy with a little more clarity and stability of rules and regulations. It will be great if the Ministry of Education reduces the dichotomy and contradiction in the bills: on one hand we are inviting foreign universities to establish base here. At the same time, when an Indian university hopes to make the transition and move beyond national borders, the rules become stricter and there are regulatory hurdles in plenty. Hopefully, our government will be able to figure out universal rules for both national and international universities which will remain the same for all education providers, irrespective of where they come from. If foreign universities get a level playing field then Indian universities should get the same and be able to operate. As far as our infrastructure is concerned: it will be looking at completing all tasks involving infrastructure and facility. February 2011 EDUTECH
USE A SINGLE
Yardstick Ashok Kolaskar wants the government to start giving due importance to the private universities
At the top of my wish list is a personal hope or ambition: that private institutions (such as Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) stop being treated like second class citizens by the government for being a private university. KIIT is a deemed university, not supported by the government. Therefore, it has been excluded from receiving certain UGC grants. Here’s my point: KIIT also imparts education, at par with other centres. Once you have recognised us as a university we should not be discriminated against on the basis of being a private, for-profit university. This distinction between state and private deemed universities should go, and hopefully I shall be able to witness this change in 2011.
Make Watchlists Egalitarian Most of the state universities in this country, do not have the infrastructure or the faculty to support quality education. Unfortunately, they are not put on a watchlist, like the private, deemed universities. I am all for providing quality, but the regulatory body should ensure that the yardstick being used to measure this quality is the same across the nation. So, if a state or central university does not match up to the standards, then please shut it down as you often do with private universities. Today, we need to make sure that internationalisation occurs at every level. My second point merges with the first one—my
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2011 wish list is mainly about the Centre’s unwillingness to stop this distinction between private and government universities.
Regulate Distance Education Strictly We need to strictly regulate distance and correspondence education at every level, whether it is by IGNOU or any private university. We need to develop a model structure by providing education at a low cost. Not everyone can afford the IIMs. But using the existing infrastructure we can create more centres of learning and perhaps help young people to pursue both a career and a degree at the same time. Like the US, with its system of community colleges, we can also conduct evening classes. In fact students who join such institutions actually need and want the education more than those students whose parents can buy a degree for them. Thus, if we use the resources that are already available, then we can improve access to education—which should be a priority in 2011.
Have Clarity In Regulations Another wish is that in 2011 there should be some amount of clarity, as far as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and its myriad regulations are concerned. These rules and regulations are confusing at best. Introducing a new bill almost every month and poor conceptualisation is not the solution to the problem. In fact, I believe that instead of changing the education sector for the better, it is now muddling matters further.
FACT FILE Name Ashok Kolaskar Designation Vice Chancellor, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology Trivia: This professor of biotechnology and bioinformatics was also an advisor to the National Knowledge Commission in 2006
Stop The Step-motherly Treatment
he Education Media Research Centre (EMRC) at Pune University was set up in the late Eighties, as a part of a University Grants Commission (UGC) initiative to start countrywide classrooms on Doordarshan. While setting it up Dr Arun Nigavekar, former Chairman of UGC, discovered that manpower with expertise in technology, media and academics, to run the centre was not available. So, to create manpower for EMRC, he decided to start a Department of Communication Studies. Again, he realised that this department needed faculty members who were experts in the area of computer software, graphics, animation, conventional movie-making and good script writing. Such people were available only in the entertainment industry and did not fit into the conventional academic structure. So, he got the university to recognise industry experts as teachers, irrespective of their basic degrees. “You have to think out of the box when scaling up. Also, cross-fertilisation between academia and industry is necessary to get the right faculty to conduct the programmes that a Higher Education Institute (HEI) introduces,” says Nigavekar. While it was internal circumstances that pushed Pune University, in this case, to start new departments and innovate, Symbiosis International University was often driven by market demand each time it scaled up. It set up Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research in 1985, when the IT industry picked up steam, and established its Institute of International Business in 1992, just a year after India opened up its economy and students needed to understand global business.
Stepping Up As HEIs across the country are scalingup fast, EDU finds out how they can do it right and why it must be done for the right reasons BY PADMAJA SHASTRI
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Similarly, KIIT University noticed that a large number of companies were looking for technical persons with the knowledge of management, while students did not want to spend six years in college. To cater to both, it started a fiveyear integrated BTech-MBA programme this academic session. It is the job of universities to continuously evolve and innovate. “The constant changes in sociological structures, economic environment, perceptions about work and employability, literacy, and technology influence HEIs in shaping, designing and re-designing programmes to meet both existing expectations and future aspirations,” says Rahul Karad, the Executive Director of the Maharashtra Academy of Engineering and Educational Research’s MIT Group of Institutions. (See his note on Challenges in Scaling-up). Apart from market opportunities and the dynamics of our environment, the national goal of achieving a gross enrolment ratio (GER) of 30 percent by 2020, from the present GER of 12 percent, is also pushing HEIs of every size to not only scale up, but do it quickly. “Our aim behind increasing courses and intake capacity is to provide opportunity for those coming out of schools and colleges to enter institutions of higher education. We also provide many freeships and scholarships to encourage students,” says Dr H.S. Ballal, Pro Chancellor of Manipal University. Many more initiatives are required if we have
to absorb more of our college-ready population into the higher education system. India currently has around 400 universities and 20,000 colleges, which take in about 13 million students. To expand this capacity, the Eleventh Five Year plan envisages the establishment of 30 new universities, 373 new degree colleges and 1,000 polytechnics. Even this is clearly not enough for our needs. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) Report recommends that we establish 1,500 universities by 2015 to achieve a GER of 15 percent. China incidentally had authorised the creation of 1,250 new universities between the years 2006 and 2009 alone. Clearly, not only are private players expected to play a large part in creating new universities, but also in quickly scaling up the existing HEIs by introducing new courses and adding capacity in the existing ones.
His MIT group grew from one institute in 1983 to 63 institutes today, offering professional courses in diverse fields like medicine, management, pharmacy and journalism, all of which have seen continuous increase in capacity. It got a major push for expansion when the family of filmmaker Raj Kapoor donated it vast tracts of land near Loni (Pune) for educational purpose. Similarly, to cater to unmet demand, Pune-based Training and Advanced Studies in Management and Communications Limited (TASMAC) is planning to increase the capacity of its flagship programme, Postgraduate Diploma in Global Business Leadership from the next academic year. It is also planning to launch postgraduate programmes in sectoral specialisations in real estate, fashion management, healthcare management, etc. in the coming academic session. “The idea is to create the talent pool for a particular sector that has a need for trained personnel, with greater understanding of the finer aspects within the sector,” says Sameer Dua, Joint Managing Director, TASMAC. It was advertisements and news items about numerous upcoming vacancies in the banking sector which prompted Dr S.B. Mujumdar, the Founder of Symbiosis, to start a dedicated institute focused only on banking. “Even though we advertised for the course quite late (in July), we got around 3,000 applications for the 50 seats announced. We are confident that all the 50 would be absorbed when they graduate this year,” he says.
and 20,000 colleges—support a population of (approx) 13 million Indian students
Push And Rationale A positive response from students to its existing courses is one of the main things that propels an HEI to start new courses, departments and institutes or to ramp up existing popular courses. “The widespread validation of our value-based systems and acceptance of our focus areas have been the driving force to enter into newer areas of education,” says Karad.
POINTS TO PONDER THE NKC REPORT recommends that we establish 1,500 universities by 2015 to achieve a GER of 15 percent CHINA HAS AUTHORISED THE CREATION of 1,250 new universities between the years 2006 and 2009 alone
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Need for a course is not only dependent on job opportunities, but also on the geographical and socio-economic conditions of the region where an HEI is situated. “For instance, an HEI in Konkan region in Maharashtra is better placed to introduce courses in marine sciences, marine industry and water sports as it has a long coastline,” says Nigavekar. Some courses like software development and management, however, are not region-specific. Sometimes HEIs start new programmes anticipating a future demand. The Symbiosis Institute of Geoinformatics is a case in point. “With geographical information systems and global positioning systems touching every aspect of our lives, the course is likely to get popular soon,” says Mujumdar. But it is not always market demand that drives HEIs to start new courses. “We are hoping to start MTech programmes in chemical, mechanical and civil engineering in July 2011. The PhD
and MTech programmes add value to us in terms of creating a research ecosystem,” says Professor Sudhir K. Jain, Director of IIT Gandhinagar. The institute, which started in 2008 with BTech programmes in chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering, has started PhD programmes in all those areas in which it has faculty.
Infrastructure First “By far, finding good faculty has been our biggest challenge and perhaps will always be. There is a tremendous shortage of quality faculty,” says Ballal. According to the Yash Pal Committee Report, the brightest in India no longer aspire to become teachers. “Urgent measures are needed to bring back such people to the university. Resources in terms of labs, libraries and resource assistance, as well as competitive remuneration will be needed to
retain good people,” states the report. Since every university cannot have great infrastructure, it recommends creation of inter-university centres in diverse fields. Most successful scaling-up exercises have put infrastructure before intake. “Since our first institution, Kasturba Medical College, came into existence in 1953, we have been strictly following the practice of increasing infrastructure and faculty commensurate with the scale-up,” says Ballal. For the same reason, IIT Gandhinagar, too, is planning wait before starting BTech in other streams until it gets strong faculty and laboratories. Undergraduate programmes in biotechnology failed in universities, mainly because colleges were compromising on the advanced type of laboratory support and resources that biotechnology needs, and thus, creating unproductive manpower.
“Building and growing any educational institution requires a high-level of patience”
Dr S.B. MUJUMDAR, Founder and President of Symbiosis, talks of how Symbiosis International University scaled up to 133 programmes in the past 38 years
BY MILIND WADEKAR
What did you keep in mind while scaling up?
The main consideration always was, and is, whether my students will get a job, or not, after passing a course that we have introduced. Whenever I thought of scaling up, the first questions that I asked myself were: “Is it needed? Will students join if we start this?” For instance, when we started the Symbiosis Law School in 1977, Pune had a lone law college, which conducted courses in the mornings. The city badly needed another law institution, especially one that offered evening courses, which would be convenient for people working in the industries that had grown in and around Pune. So, we felt that there was a need for it.
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How did you go about the scaling up process? We always scale up by setting up new institutes, or offering new and innovative courses. We usually don't expand capacity of the existing courses, as we maintain a teacher-student ratio of 1:25 at the postgraduate level, and a 1:35 ratio at the graduate level. Whenever we want to start a programme, we appoint an advisory board consisting of industry experts in the field, from whom we extract information about the need for the course, or its market potential. For instance, for business management, we got inputs from people such as Late HK Firodia. Once the course potential and its need are established, we co-opt academicians from across the country
Identification of quality intake and creating awareness among stakeholders about the utility and cost-effectiveness of the new course are the other important pre-requisites of scaling-up. “For starting the PhD programmes, our main challenge has been to find outstanding research scholars. There is a dearth of bright students interested in pursuing PhDs,” says Jain. So, his institute is looking at offering scholarships which are 70 percent higher than any other IIT.
For many of the newly-established HEIs like the Central Universities and the IITs, which are operating from temporary campuses, space is also a major challenge. “The institute is holding back some of our academic expansions on this account,” adds Jain.
Ways And Means However, since these HEIs are dream projects of the Government of India, there is no dearth of funds available to
them. Leading private HEIs such as Manipal, Symbiosis and Amity, also generate surplus monies from their existing courses to fund fresh programmes. However, a majority across the country don't fall under these coveted categories—they depend mainly on bank loans to finance their scaling-up activities, especially for infrastructure development. “In the past four to five years the demand for loans from HEIs (from ` 10-50 million), especially in tier-II towns and district headquarters, has
little scope to scale up. The process to start a new course took nearly two years from the time of conception. But, after we became autonomous, we were able to start delivering a course in about a month after it was conceived. Also, there was no standard of competency as to who should assess whom. Most often the expert committees that came to inspect us before we started a new institution knew less about the domain and more about ‘extra’ consideration! There was no scope for framing or revising the syllabus either. However, regulations are a problem only at the time of starting a new programme or an institute. It is our responsibility to maintain the quality later. None of our courses has become a flop.
How do you attract students to newer courses? (or abroad if need be) to design the hardware of the course— framing the syllabus, examinations and credits.
Whenever we announce a course, there is an overwhelming response, as people believe that ‘whatever Symbiosis starts will be a success’. We have built this kind of brand equity by the following best practices:
How do you fund your expansion? We are a self-financing institution and do not get any donations or grants. But, our fees are fairly high. Therefore, we generate enough surplus funds for future expansion. However, until we started the law college in 1977, I had to knock on doors and go begging for donations. Building and growing an educational institution requires a high level of patience and perseverance. Over the years, we have come up with a 25:50:25 formula of resource building—25 percent of every institute’s income is to be spent on salaries, 50 percent on administration, and 25 percent on business development. We also utilise staff and infrastructure to the maximum.
What were the challenges you faced while scaling up? As long as we were affiliated to Pune University, we were governed by so many stifling rules and statutes that we had
Excellence Building: We do this through consistent academic and sports achievements, exam results and 100 percent placement. We also organise international conferences and encourage faculty to present research papers at conferences by bearing their travel expenditure and giving them increments or promotions. Image Building: We associate with prominent citizens in various bodies, regularly invite experts to deliver public lectures and organise international cultural functions, all of which attract media publicity. Character Building: We do not take donations or capitation fees for admission to any course. We admit students solely on the basis of merit, by conducting all-India admission tests.
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doubled,” says P.M. Khan, Deputy General Manager (Credit), Bank of Maharashtra. The bank, which grants loans for construction of buildings, labs and equipment, finds that the expansion is mainly in case of technical and management education. “We expect any HEI asking for a loan to have land, and to have completed all the necessary legal formalities. We also expect that it has received the requisite permission for expansion from relevant government agencies,” he says. According to M. Balachandran, Managing Director, Bank of India, other criteria that banks consider are: promoters’ background, core competence and experience in running educational institutes; the course, its demand, relevance in the job market and how it compares with what competing HEIs are offering. “To scale-up research we take help from research-funding agencies such as Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Science and Technology, and the Centre. Or, we resort to bank loans,” says Ballal. Some HEIs actively seek donations from stakeholders, including industry, alumni and public, to fund expansion. “We are seeking donations to cover expenses that we consider important for quality, which may not be possible through government funds. For instance, we are trying to get the best faculty from around the world. To attract them, we have to pay a far higher salary than any of our counterparts are paying, which will not be covered by the standard government pay-scales,” says Jain.
Fast Forward Once the faculty and finances are tied up, the HEIs can go ahead and start the programme. But it is a slow process of growth. Open and distance learning is the quickest way to scale-up and is the future of higher education in India as it does not require as much infrastructure as a physical campus and has better reach, feel many educationists. “Our distance learning institute, which conducts all its affairs—admissions, assignments, assessments and results online, has grown to 200,000 students
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Jumping the Hurdles RAHUL KARAD, Executive Director, Maharashtra Academy of Engineering and Educational Research’s MIT Group of Institutions, and the Founder and Dean of the MIT School of Government, talks to EDU about the challenges faced while scaling-up in 27 years—and how the group tackled them RESISTANCE TO CHANGE: One of the major challenges has always been voices seeking to halt change and quick innovation. Introduction of new programmes and diversion from existing and validated methods always has to face the challenge of change and the resistance to it. The approach adopted by us has always been facilitation, consultation and expert participation to bring everyone onto our line of thinking. Our panel of advisors for various institutions and academic boards constitute people of eminence and stature and their role has been significant in tackling the resistance to growth and change. The major thing to note is that advisory panels are not supernumerary, but participatory, in nature with a defined role and that makes their presence more influential and persuasive. COURSE DESIGN: This is one area which requires constant evaluation. While it may be easy to identify new areas for introduction, the design and structure pose a challenge on two counts: to make it relevant, comprehensive and contemporary, and to find suitable academic support by way of textbook
support and faculty. The design also poses a major challenge by way of immediacy of acceptance from both industry and students. We have adopted a three-pronged approach to address these concerns. We have a process involving academic and industry experts in the first phase, then we open the deliberations to members of the academic council and finally take it forward through the suggestions of alumni and internal faculty team. The sequence may vary but involvement of all those specified above has been a great leveler in successfully placating concerns of course design. FACULTY: This has been a major area of concern not only with respect to newer introductions but also for enhancing traditional programmes. While qualified faculty is fairly easy to find and acquire, the challenge is to find good teachers. Qualification does not necessarily imply excellence in teaching. While this is an ongoing process with no given solution at hand, the approach adopted by us is twofold. First, we go through a process of selection ourselves and do not outsource the same. This is to ensure that we identify people who meet our vision and match our culture. Secondly, we follow an elaborate system of selection focusing more on potential for improvement rather than current potential and experience. We feel that by providing an opportunity to grow and improve, we can create greater sustainability and continuity. INFRASTRUCTURE: This will always be a major inhibiting factor for expansion of HEIs, as it is confined by many requirements. The bindings are in the form of statutory guidelines and constraints of resources. We have been able to tackle this issue on account of our planned expansion, by relating the same to physical availability of infrastructure. At no stage has there been an attempt to compromise this requirement to leverage growth/business opportunity. We were fairly fortunate to have the requisite land which facilitated fund availability from various sources like banks, institutional investors etc. This enabled us to go forward with matching infrastructure. MARKETING: As we commenced our journey of expansion beyond engineering, we sought to exploit the first mover advantage as a private educational trust in professional education. In order to do so, we have placed all our institutes under a common banner and a common brand. By using a distinctive, identifiable and appropriate brand identity, we have been able to establish definite public image and differentiation. This has been the mainstay of our marketing and communication strategy. ADMISSIONS: Our strength here comes from being among the top colleges. We offer admission only to students securing a high percentage of marks. In order to attract such students, we have been focusing on the rigorous implementation of academic curriculum coupled with a broad spectrum of activities encompassing industry interface, national and international tours, competitions, seminars etc. In addition, we also target students across the country through focused advertisements, brochure distribution at all CAT/MAT/ AIMA examination centres, being part of XLRI group for XAT score database accretion, website upgrade, word of mouth etc. We also focus on retaining a balance between quantity and quality. While meeting the requirements of a basic minimum admission level is essential, due caution is exercised to not dilute the core requirement and our vision.
from 40 different countries. It has enabled us to introduce innovations like exam-on-demand,” says Mujumdar. In fact, development of open and distance educational resources is imperative to achieve the objectives of expansion, excellence and inclusion in higher education, says the NKC Report. “We need to encourage open access for all material—research papers, periodicals, books, etc.,” the report recommends. Many HEIs are also exploring collaborations with industry and other Indian and foreign universities to fasttrack their scale-up. For instance, MIT Pune has a tie-up with Hague University for exchange of students for short-term certificate programmes, while Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, recently tied up with Coca-Cola to start a retail academy. Such tie-ups help in quickly ramping up the infrastructure and in getting access to good faculty. According to Karad, the scaling-up process can be accelerated by greater public-private participation, government supported initiatives like land allocation in interior areas, subsidy for initial years on infrastructure, financial support at low interest, deterrents for malpractices and transparency in the processes for affiliation, recognition and accreditation. “Flexibility to HEIs in fee structure and in designing and modifying curriculum; easing the rigid control over the education sector will also help hasten the scaling-up,” he says.
Steering Growth The success of any scale-up plan depends on sound leadership to design, develop and implement its vision. “Appointment of a suitable director for a new institute is crucial. So, we advertise for the post, take feedback from all sources possible and conduct all necessary due diligence before selecting one. However, once appointed, he or she is given total autonomy in academic matters. Nobody will challenge the director’s decision on appointment and promotions of faculty or curriculum design,” says Mujumdar. Sometimes, cross-fertilisation takes place between different February 2011 EDUTECH
departments in a university and a completely new field of study comes up. While that is exciting, it becomes a management challenge since the institution neither has faculty to teach the course nor a set curriculum. “You need a person who’ll be able to translate your ideas to execute the programme, especially if it’s a new concept. Somebody who will decide what should be taught in the course and how it should be taught,” says Dr Ashok Kolaskar, Vice Chancellor of KIIT University. When he had introduced a five-year integrated MSc course in biotechnology at Pune University, there was no one who could decide what type of physics and chemistry should be taught to these students and how it should be taught to them. “I had to do it mostly by myself, with technical help from Professor Dileep Deobagkar, who is now the Vice Chancellor of Goa University,” he says. In India, most HEIs have an internal team to project manage their scale-up plans. “We do not have to hire any consultants, as we have our own internal core faculty and supporting staff to do this,” says Ballal. However, MIT is one of the few Indian HEIs which has consulted experts in the field while it was deciding to establish institutes for new programmes. “In most cases, we have taken in the designated consultants on board for a fixed duration till the assigned task is accomplished,” say Karad. In case of autonomous programmes, the institute has followed a combination of seeking the involvement of an advisory body, external experts and internal expertise to build an effective foundation. For university prescribed courses, which lack flexibility, its internal faculty takes decisions on issues like selection of students and teaching methods to be adopted.
Design Changes As HEIs are fast scaling-up, it is not just the course design which needs to evolve rapidly, but the design requirements of the physical infrastructure also need to change drastically.
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“Identifying and attracting good faculty is a challenge” RAOSAHEB K. KALE, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Gujarat, talks to EDU about the growth pangs, and his plans for the newly-formed central university
“Computer labs, which were once considered a good facility, have now become redundant as campuses are increasingly pushed to becoming Wi-Fi enabled so that students can work on their laptops anywhere. And to recharge those laptops, we have to provide for at least 50 plug-points in each classroom,” says Madhav Hundekar, Founder Director of Pune-based architectural firm Mitimitra Consultants Pvt Ltd. The firm has designed many HEIs, including many of Symbiosis’ new institutes. He says, with 20 to 25 percent of the students coming to college in their cars these days, no HEI is able to cater to the growing demand for parking. Symbiosis has come out with an interesting solution for the parking issues at its 100 percent residential
campus in Lavale, near Pune—it has 200 cycles for the use of students. Creating and maintaining hostels is another issue HEIs have to tackle as they scale-up. In a city like Pune, where nearly 70 percent of the student population is not local, most HEIs can to accommodate only 10 to 25 percent of the students in hostels. “Building hostels is 25 to 50 percent costlier than creating a classroom, with students expecting attached toilets, dry balcony, fridge, TV and a generator backup,” says Hundekar. With All India Council for Technical Education and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) coming down hard on HEIs, especially those not creating appropriate labs and other infrastructure, they are under pressure to comply.
What are your growth plans and what are those based on? We started with MPhil and PhD programmes in three disciplines and 25 students in 2009. We added six new courses this year and have 130 students. And, the plan is to introduce at least five courses, and grow to 500 students by the next academic session. Our long-term vision is to have at least 100 programmes and 20,000 students in 10 to 15 years, by which time we will be fully operational. But we would not blindly start courses. Every programme we start would either be about what is happening around the world, or achieve national goals, or be relevant to the local area. For instance, we are starting a programme in Chinese, so that we understand the Chinese and their culture better, as China has become the second most important economy in the world.Similarly, since Gujarat has a large industrial base, we are adding a specialised course in industrial chemistry.
What are the challenges in scaling-up? And how are you overcoming them? Lack of space is the biggest constraint at present. Until our permanent campus in Himmatnagar is ready, the Gujarat government has given us 2.5 acres with a 16-room building in Gandhinagar, which we have completely renovated with Wi-Fi and other modern facilities. In the remaining space, we have built a pre-fabricated and portable structure, which we can move to Himmatnagar. This structure houses 10 additional classrooms, 40 faculty rooms, a library with 6,000 books, three science halls with sophisticated instruments, a big conference hall that can
“Earlier, what was a classroom one day became a library or a lab or a gym the next day, depending on which regulatory body was visiting! This sort of adapting one space to another is not easy anym or e ,” s a ys Hun d ek a r. Wh il e a mechanical engineering lab needs industrial flooring, smoke extractors, oil drains and natural ventilation, an agriculture college lab needs sterile and air-conditioned labs for tissue culture and testing of various breeds, a nursing college must have a good drainage, human-like mannequins and at least three sinks in each classroom, he says. According to him, not only labs, but even the libraries for different subjects are expected to be different. There are also some state government rules which make scaling-up difficult. The
hold over 200 people and a dining hall. The state government has also given us 30 flats in its buildings nearby, which we have converted into student hostels. Identifying and attracting good faculty is another challenge. I am meeting senior professors across the country to check their willingness to come here. We plan to invite them on deputation for two years. We also need young blood. So, we are recruiting fresh lecturers on a contractual basis, selected after an open interview by an expert selection committee. To make permanent appointments, we need to have a President of India’s nominee on the selection committee. We are expecting that anytime now.
How are you promoting your new courses? We are able to attract talented students since the Central Universities are a dream project of the government, and are expected to be centres of excellence. I also address people wherever I go about our vision to create thinking minds who will be national assets. I visited 15 universities across the country in 2009 alone. I have recently visited universities in Canada and New Zealand, looking for research collaborations and scholars’ exchange. With New Zealand universities, we might do joint work in the area of dairy development and diaspora, while with Canada it would mainly be in management and social sciences. My students and colleagues in the US are also keen on research in the areas of life sciences, especially cancer biology. Some of these things will crystallise in the coming year. We are also planning to start distance learning programmes soon.
Maharastra government, for instance, has mandated that every HEI should earmark 40 percent of its land as playground, which is impractical in urban areas where land is scarce and expensive.
The Hiccups Not just state and central governments and universities, but HEIs in India are also governed by a multitude of agencies including the UGC and 13 professional councils. “While the need for regulation is understood, over regulation, constant suspicion and lack of transparency create a very constricting atmosphere and constant tussle between the regulatory bodies and the HEIs,” says Karad. The regulations to consider would depend on the kind of new programmes that an institution wanted to offer and
which body would award the degree. For example, if an institution wants to run a university programme, then approval would be required from the respective university and the state/central governments. For engineering and certain management programmes, approval of AICTE is necessary, and for medical courses, the Medical Council of India has to clear it. “We have been paying special attention to the regulatory issues whenever we go for a scaling-up exercise, since recognition of the qualification is important to students’ future prospects,” says Ballal. Not only for approval of the course or recognition of the degree, but HEIs need to get an okay from these multiple regulatory bodies for any changes in the course or for collaborations in India or February 2011 EDUTECH
abroad. “The major challenge, therefore, is to tackle the regulatory requirements year after year to facilitate continuance of approvals. The issue of multiple agencies also takes its toll as HEIs have to deal with all of them acting independently of each other, resulting in avoidable duplication of effort and documentation,” says Karad. The approval process even at the university level is very time-consuming. “The application for affiliation gets processed through university departments—finance, examination, board of university teaching and research, academic council, which meets only twice a year and the executive council—where it is scrutinised, discussed, debated and quite often postponed,” says Mujumdar. This is because these bodies are huge and unwieldy, making a consensus on decisions difficult. “The focus is more on following written rules, rather than getting work done. For instance, Pune University rules say that 21 days' notice should be given to call a meeting of the academic council, which is followed rigidly,” says Kolaskar. If found acceptable, the executive council appoints a local enquiry committee to visit the institute to verify its infrastructure among other things, and the report is sent to the academic council, which in turn forwards it to the state government. Again, it goes to various departments of the respective state government— finance, higher education and the cabinet. If all of them pass it, a Government Resolution is issued, allowing the institute to start the course.
Autonomy And Quality “The whole process takes at least two years from concept to starting the course. Compare this to the time we took to start our institute of banking – I thought about it in June-July and in August we started the course,” says Mujumdar. Similarly, when Kolaskar wanted to start a five year BTech-M. Tech course at KIIT University, the management and academic council were convinced immediately and the programme started in less than 25 days. Apart from being autonomous, what the two universities have in common is
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HEIs IN INDIA ARE ALSO GOVERNED BY A MULTITUDE OF AGENCIES INCLUDING THE UGC AND 13 PROFESSIONAL COUNCILS. THE ISSUE OF MULTIPLE AGENCIES TAKES ITS TOLL AS HEIs HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL OF THEM ACTING INDEPENDENTLY OF EACH OTHER, RESULTING IN AVOIDABLE DUPLICATION OF EFFORT small and compact decision-making bodies which can meet anytime. Most HEIs that have successfully scaled-up are autonomous. “With autonomy, universities flourish. In an atmosphere of controls they wilt. We now have the freedom to form our own syllabus, add or delete any topic and introduce credit system or any other pattern of evaluation,” says Mujumdar. But freedom should come with accountability. According to the NKC Report, an expansion which provides students with choices and creates competition between institutions is going to be vital in enhancing accountability. Educationists across the board feel that the ability of an HEI to maintain and deliver quality in a scaled up environment is important for it to sustain. “Expansion at the cost of quality can be very detrimental to everyone in the long term. It is unfair to the students and faculty (both current and future) and it is unfair to the millions of our country men and women whose taxes we use in supporting educational institutions,” says Jain. There is also a concern that most private HEIs are introducing only such professional programmes which give them quick returns on investments, and ignoring basic sciences, social sciences and humanities. “Unless there is a strong foundation of the core subject, individuals and the economy would not grow,” warns Nigavekar. However, one regularly hears of HEIs
that are scaling up only for the sake of scaling up, without any vision or mission. “Now that private equity has come into higher education, you see some HEIs talking about setting up 20 to 30 campuses with programmes in various subject areas. I get a little edgy about such institutions only because scaling up in higher education needs to be a gradual process and done for the right reasons,” says Dua. So, what are those “right” reasons? Karad suggests a few: a mission influenced strategy, integrity of approach, academic rigour, commitment to quality, constant innovation and upgrades aimed at enhancing higher education and its value to stakeholders. “The decision to scale-up HEI’s should not be influenced by just a business opportunity. There must be a definite focus on creating and providing at least one aspect of exclusive and distinct value which is different from the existing programmes,” he says. Karad has established the MIT School of Government with the aim of providing direction to youth who wish to make politics a career. The Yash Pal Committee Report says: “Universities need to establish a live relationship with the real world outside and develop capacities to respond to the challenges faced by rural and urban economies and cultures.” This perhaps should be the guiding mantra for HEIs looking to scale-up. “You really do not want to scale up at the expense of students,” says Dua.
Fighting For Credibility
Institutions of higher education are increasingly using benchmarks to attract both students and faculty BY DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY
arlier this year, Nashik resident Naresh Mahulkar spent a good 15 days surfing the net and checking out newspapers and magazines. Reason: he wanted to make sure he applied only to “A-rated” universities in India for his postgraduate degree. “The National Assessment and Accreditation Council ranks all colleges and PG departments annually. So do other bodies in case of technical education. So I wanted to make sure I studied at the best,” says the 21-year-old student of physics from Mumbai University. He says magazines that carry out annual rankings of the best higher education institutions also help many like him choose where to study. Small wonder then that not only government-run, but also, private institutions are increasingly going in for some sort of benchmarking, to attract students and faculty. Indeed, benchmarking in higher education sector is not new. As a management tool, it was first introduced in 1970s. University groups in Europe, US and Australia are known to be involved in benchmarking projects. Over the years, students, parents and investors, too, have looked at ratings, rankings and perceptions about institutions before arriving at their respective decisions.
A Necessary Evil?
BY PC ANOOP
Benchmarking, to give it a proper definition, is the process of comparing ones business processes and performance metrics with industry bests or best practices from other industries. Traditionally the areas measured are quality, time and cost. Improvements from learning mean doing things better, faster, and cheaper. While basic principles of benchmarking (comparing against the best) remains the same for higher education sector, parameters do change. This is where there seems to be a difference of opinion as to what the criteria for benchmarking should be— between government-appointed authorities and academic institution heads in India. What does benchmarking here really involve? To put it simply, it requires an emphasis on systematic means of making comparisons to identify areas that need improvement. It involves questioning how processes are performed, seeking out best practices, and implementing new models of operation. Benchmarking can be done through a government-approved committee or agency, or it could be done by appointing a consultant who evaluates the infrastructure, faculty quality and syllabus and compares it to “the best” in class standards. One can even have an internal benchmarking system where departments, schools or faculties are benchmarked against each other. As India witnesses a boom in the number of higher education institutions both in general and technical streams, and as more and more such institutions claim to be “the best” by flaunting ratings and rankings—many academicians are beginning to question the credibility of such a system. They all agree on one score, that a continuous process of benchmarking is crucial to the development of any institution. The debate, however, is over the credibility of the current processes of benchmarking prevalent in India.
Advantages Of Benchmarking There is of course no dearth of academicians and administrators, who swear by the process of accreditation and ratings through which bodies constituted by the HRD ministry currently benchmark Indian institutions.
GLOBAL TRENDS: DIFFERENT BENCHMARKING PROCESSES ROCESS BENCHMARKING: P Initiating institution focuses its observation and investigation of processes with the goal of identifying and observing the best practices from one or more benchmark institutions. FINANCIAL BENCHMARKING: Performing a financial analysis and comparing results in an effort to assess the overall competitiveness and productivity. BENCHMARKING FROM AN INVESTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Extending the benchmarking universe to also compare to peer institutions that can be considered alternative investment opportunities from the perspective of an investor. PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKING: Allows the initiator academic institute to assess their competitive position by comparing products and services with those of competition. STRATEGIC BENCHMARKING: Involves observing how others compete and work. This type is usually not industry-specific, meaning it is best to look at other industries. FUNCTIONAL BENCHMARKING: An institute can focus its benchmarking on a single function or faculty and department to improve the operation of that particular function. BEST-IN-CLASS BENCHMARKING: Involves studying the leading competitor that best carries out a specific function. February 2011 EDUTECH
“We have just faced an inspection team from NCTE. They are benchmarking us on infrastructure, human resources (teacher-student ratio not exceeding 1:15) and financial resources for infrastructural development in the next five years. I am excited about this, since benchmarking would make us aware of where we stand vis-a-vis others and help us improve pedagogy and curricula, thereby promoting institutional growth,” says Professor Ramesh Amin, Vice Chancellor, Calorx Teachers’ University, Ahmedabad. “International School of Business & Media, has been benchmarked according to AICTE norms for its two management campuses. It has received industry benchmarking through awards and hundred percent quality placements. Just recently, our School of Communication has got Indy's Award for best academic inputs in media education, and Star News Award for communication education with the best industry interface. Industry benchmarking is more relevant, as we are a professional institute nurturing talent for productive engagement in the market, and not just academics and critics. In my earlier assignment as the Director of Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, we had NAAC evaluation with A+ credits, which was relevant in the context of Symbiosis being an academics-oriented university,” says Professor Ujjwal Kumar Chowdhury,
Director, ISBM’s School of Communications. “Benchmarking, in context to the educational purposes is relevant because it gives a standard parameter, talks of appropriateness to the context, and of accountability of those who take it and spend for it,” adds Chowdhury. Professor H.M. Desai, Vice Chancellor, of AICTE-approved Dharamsinh Desai University, Nadiad, highlights the key advantages of a formal benchmarking system. “I believe academic programmes should have benchmarking. Then stakeholders have a clear idea about an institution’s standing and programmes. This also helps students select an institute and academic programmes. There are other benefits of approvals and accreditation— grants from MHRD, Department of Science and Technology and University Grant Commission. Foreign universities also look for institutes that are approved and have gone through some benchmarking for their programmes before venturing into collaborative activities. “For example, the technology faculty at DD University has state- and central government-funded programmes going on. It has signed MoUs with the University of Iowa and University of Alabama. However, these are just indicative, not exhaustive, advantages of being benchmarked,” says Desai.
Is It Being Done Right? Others, however, are critical of the way
WAY OUT IN INDIA: COLLABORATIVE BENCHMARKING Benchmarking is usually carried out by individual companies or institutions. However, it may also be carried out collaboratively by groups of institutions—such as different branches of a group come together to judge a similar institution. For example: either IITs or IIMs can come together to do a collaborative benchmarking of a similar institution.
The Process: Identify other industries, or countries, where there is a similar experiment happening in the higher education sector. Identify organisations, or countries, which are leaders in these areas. Survey these companies, or in case of a country, measures and practices employed. Visit these ‘best practice’ institutions to identify leading edge practices. Implement these new practices after taking your own peculiarities into consideration.
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that the All India Council for Technical Education and NAAC go about ranking and benchmarking colleges, universities and institutions. “When we launched our institution 11 years ago, I invited 11 colleagues—all faculty at IIM, Ahmedabad, to discuss not just the key qualities at the premier B-school, but also to discuss what was ‘not right’ at the IIMs. The idea was to pick up the good, and be aware of the pitfalls,” explains Dr Varun Arya, Vice Chairman, Aravalli Institute of Management. Arya says, “AIM benchmarked itself against IIM Ahmedabad, to not just be as good, but even better.” But why hasn’t he got AIM benchmarked by AICTE, NAAC or any other government-approved body? “I will be blunt. The accreditation system followed here is a sham. There is no quality benchmarking being done. In fact, I will go as far as to label these bodies—‘rent-seekers’. They have lost their credibility. Just look at how they dole out ratings,” says an irate Arya. Professor A. Balasubramanian, Executive Director of the Pune-based Institute of Modern Management (IMM is one of the top 20 B-schools in India), and President, Balaji Education Society, says he doesn’t “trust” the formal process of benchmarking. “I will admit that almost all institutes under the IMM are AICTE-approved. But to me, true benchmarking is about Returns on Investments: are my students getting jobs that justify the fee? Management education is a situational science. It needs to show some originality in benchmarking.” Retired colonel and former founder director of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, has therefore set his own norms. His take on the way in which AICTE or NAAC go about approving institutions? “They are completely useless. The people sitting on these committees are those who have lost touch with the modern systems of education, or those who need a parking place, after having outlived their usefulness. What can we expect from such committees?” He adds: “Look at the success rate of India’s IT institutes. A reason for this success is that the government has not been able to interfere much in this sector.” Arya, a former IITian and an IIM
“Adopt a unified approach for accreditation of professional programmes”
“Benchmarking, is relevant because it talks of appropriateness to the context”
—H.M. DESAI Vice Chancellor, Dharamsinh Desai University
—UJJWAL K. CHOWDHURY Director, ISBM’s School of Communication
Ahmedabad graduate says that the rules which some benchmarking agencies use are “ludicrous”. “Do you know that they go about measuring the size of classrooms with a tape—since rules state that a classroom has to be of a specific size? Is that how you judge quality? They come and count the number of computers an institute has in its laboratory. Do they check how upgraded or powerful these work stations are? No, they don’t,” he emphasises. Even those who otherwise have come to terms with the current process of formal benchmarking in India, are aware of its downsides. “Excessive dependence on one format of benchmarking and applying them to different contexts can be harmful. If we apply the benchmarking standards of a public-funded, social purpose, degree-based education, on a privately-funded, job-oriented and skillbased education, it is bound to fail,” says Chowdhury. Desai agrees. “The present benchmarking system in India involves several agencies for different kind of professional and non-professional pro-
grammes. There is NAAC, NBA, AICTE, UGC, DCI and MCI. Each has different norms, standards and requirements of infrastructure, curricula and human resources. Their criteria for accreditation are also different. Quite often it appears that these criteria are subjective, qualitative and obscure. Hence, institutes seeking accreditation have fear of a biased outcome,” he says.
The Way Out All these, however, don’t take away from the fact that benchmarking, if anything, is more important for higher education institutions today. Especially since they compete against each other on a global scale, vie for the same faculty talent pool, and need to attract students with the lure of better curricula and facilities. Across the world, major changes are taking place in the area of benchmarking. For instance, in European higher education, institutes are gearing up to increase their attractiveness on the market. Curricula is being reformed according to the Bologna Process. Research has become strategic.
Modernising university management is also on the agenda and efforts are being made to ensure transparency of modes of operations and processes with a view to improving them continuously. “Of course, we need benchmarking. But the assessment and its implementations have to be correct. We have to ensure benchmarking is done on four key parameters: is faculty quality and competence good? Is the curricula being continuously updated? Are facilities upto-the-mark? Finally, has the institution improved its organisational networking record?” says Arya, adding: “What we need is a system where autonomous and professional agencies do the benchmarking. Not government-appointed committees, full of retired people.” Desai suggests that India resort to a “unified approach for accreditation of professional programmes, which are objective and quantitative, wherein the likelihood of biased assessment is remote”. He points to the “US example”, where the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology has earned a remarkable reputation. In the UK, it is the Quality Assurance Agency for higher education—which does an excellent job. “We lack such credible bodies,” he says. Chowdhury says we should take some lessons from the west. “What is the outcome of professional education in our institutes in terms of employability and entrepreneurship development? This is what needs to be evaluated, like it happens in the US.” Balasubramanian agrees in principle, though he is not in favour of looking west. “Let the market forces decide. We should not look at any model. However, our aim should be to become like Harvard or Oxford, which have become benchmarks by themselves. We should create institutions that are so good that others benchmark themselves against us. The tragedy today is that those who know very little, are becoming decision-makers,” he says. Desai concludes, “The focus should be more on teaching learning process. It should be realised that the best learning comes from research and originality of work through enhanced creativity of students.” February 2011 EDUTECH
E-BO IN INDIA: THE FINE EDU explores the impact of digital books and publications in Indian higher education BY TUSHAR KANWAR
BY ANIL T
JOSEPH ADDISON, the English
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playwright and poet once said: “Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.” Pity then, that for students in institutions of higher learning across the country. It takes as much exercise to carry these tomes that educate them! But then, this is the 21st century, a far cry from the days of Gutenberg. Surely e-books hold the answer to this conundrum? However, implementing e-books and digital libraries at your institution isn’t just a matter of tacking an extra “e” onto a book. We spoke to leading publishers, technologists, users and institutions who have walked down the digital path to look at the important considerations, and choices you need to make.
e-books have had a long journey to acceptability, starting in the early ’70s as a digital library of public domain books known as Project Gutenberg. These were mostly restricted to specialty domains and closed interest groups in their earliest avatars. It’s really the 1990s and the explosion of the internet that made the humble e-books, along with their poster child format PDF, enter the mainstream. Today we see them in one form or the other, be it a product manual or the latest bestseller and, in our context, in some of the nation’s top institutions’ digital libraries.
Tech Underpinnings EYESTOPPERS CHINA’S digital publishing industry reported a massive $12 billion output in 2009, propelled in large part by a number of cheap digital readers. DON’T MAKE e-books PC-centric. Choose formats like ePub, which adapt themselves for display on devices—dedicated e-book readers or general purpose devices
For most educational institutions, the technology underpinnings for creating and consuming e-books is similar and falls under three areas, as A.M. Thimmiya, Senior Vice President, Distributed Learning, Manipal Education, explains. To begin with, you clearly need technology to create or author content, which can range from a simple word processor to graphicallyrich authoring tools, based on what is being taught and the nature of the learner. The content will then need to be stored in a repository and tagged with multi-dimensional metadata, to ensure it is searchable and available to the right audience. And finally, you need a delivery mechanism—an online learn-
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ing management system, or digital libraries with network dependency, or offline mechanisms like CD-ROMs and portable storage media. Atul Chitnis, one of India’s best-known technologists, adds his perspective to the process. Having followed the market for years now, Chitnis highlights that people consider e-books as new technology miracle that requires a new way of thinking. Quite to the contrary, he adds, what has changed is only the medium the books are “printed” on. So, at its most basic, according to Chitnis, all you need is an author, a word processor and one of many ways to save to an e-book format— typically in ePub format (for just about any e-book reader device or application,
including the Apple iPad), or in the MobiPocket format (used for the Amazon Kindle). He cautions educational institutions against viewing e-books as merely distributing documents in PDF format, which is essentially a print-file format meant solely for accurate print reproduction. While PDF allows for highly complex formatting, documents in this format can usually be viewed correctly only on a PC screen. As institutions are looking to encourage consumption, Chitnis recommends decision-makers to not make their e-books PC-centric. Instead, he asks them to choose formats like ePub, which adapt themselves for display on many devices— dedicated e-book readers, or general
Richer Learning Experience What considerations drove the decision to use e-books in your institution? How has the feedback been? Apart from providing a richer and more powerful learning experience, the scale of our operations necessitated us to be able to enhance and repurpose content across programmes. The uptake from both faculty and students is enthusiastic, specifically for additional material that is not deliverable in the print format.
What is the way forward for e-books? We believe that they are a powerful enhancement to the material provided in textbooks. Whether they can completely replace a book as a metaphor is still difficult to call, given individual preferences for the physical form factor. However, digital content is certainly cheaper to distribute and elimiA.M. THIMMIYA nates unwieldy logistics. Powerful mechaSenior VP, Distributed Learning, nisms of DRM are now emerging that makes Manipal Education unauthorised usage far more difficult. However, in the absence of offline players, e-content is dependent on network availability, which can be a drawback in many areas of India today. The second issue is that e-book readers are not yet ubiquitous or cost effective to make e-content access portable.
What recommendation do you have for other institutions? Build learning content in small atomic units. Build multiple formats of content for the same purpose to target multiple types of learners.
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purpose devices such as mobile phones, PDAs or tablets like the iPad.
E-books: Aye Or Nay? Aside from the obvious benefits of portability, there are some very redoubtable reasons why the e-book is a force to reckon with. To start with, they’re quicker to procure, and you could have the digital copy of the book in question as soon as you place the order. Unlike printed books, e-books can be easily updated, and can take advantage of extensive cross-referencing, search and annotation capabilities that are inherent to the medium. Imagine coming across a term you don’t understand—an e-book can let you click through to reference material or just perform a Google search for the term, and allow you to make your own notes which can be instantly shared with the entire batch—try doing that with a paper-based book! Also, according to professor Ajay Rana, Director, Amity Technical Placement Cell, “Apart from saving physical space and being accessible to students and faculty around the clock, e-books are eco-friendly as well.” Adds Thimmiya: “E-books are driven by the need to provide a richer and more powerful learning experience, and e-books cater to the needs of different learner types including those preferring more multimedia content over plain text material.” Spare a thought for the differentlyabled students as well. e-books can cater to them with most software supporting text-to-voice capabilities. That said, the dead-wood variant of the book does score on some key criteria. For starters, it doesn’t need a manual to operate a paper book. The devices—PCs, laptops, dedicated e-book readers and many mobile phones—needed to read e-books require an additional outlay, which for many may prove to be the biggest deterrent. Rana also notes that compatibility issues are rife in the e-book space, and that proper network connectivity to digital libraries is key to effective usage, not to mention power requirements to run these devices. Above all, the well-rooted cultural
mindsets around reading from a screen rather than a book affect uptake and usage in India. If your students and faculty are only using the e-book for printing out a paper version, they’re defeating the purpose.
Usage In India Given the upside, it would be logical for the higher educational institutions to adopt e-books for extensive research and student use. Yet, across the board, the consistent message we heard from publishers and students was that Indian universities, for the most part, have been slow to embrace this technology, preferring to stick to known territory. Students we spoke to had used e-books as supplementary reading material, if at all, and complained that their institutions were woefully inadequate in supporting such digital initiatives. Ironically, we have a flourishing industry that creates e-content and performs digitisation for academic institutions around the world. Yet, the bulk of our own institutions consume so little. In contrast, China’s digital publishing industry reported a massive $12 billion output in 2009, propelled in large part by a number of cheap digital readers. Publishers in China have opted to follow a common standardised format (unlike the standards war that slows adoption elsewhere in the world) and are delivering open-access e-books to students through CERNET, China’s Education and Research Network, accessible by most of the country’s higher education institutions. Now while most predictions point towards physical books holding fast for the foreseeable future in India and e-books targeting a niche in the education sector, there are encouraging signs for the times to come. Within 5 to 8 years, the students in today’s junior schools will be joining college with a substantially different cultural attitude to technology and e-books than today’s early-’90s born students. Coupled with cheaper e-book readers and ubiquitous personal computer growth, these digital natives (unlike us digital immigrants) will be
Institutions Joining The e-Revolution
hile the publishers we spoke to maintained that the pace of e-book adoption is gradual, they did highlight a few institutions that are getting it right. According to Harpreet Singh, President, Higher Education, Educomp Solutions, the IITs and Delhi University have gone in for their digital libraries. The JRE Group of Institutions has partnered with Educomp for their multi-terabyte digital library. Adds K. Srinivas, AVP and publisher–Higher Education, Pearson Education, “Delhi University and IISc Bangalore are good examples.”
MU’s Distance Education programme provides students with EduNxt–a ‘portable campus’ which provides students access to over one million online books and journals. In addition, over 700 subjects in their distance education programme feature digital content in addition to printed books. This includes learning material, PDF versions of student learning material, practice exercises and quizzes, lecture presentations, and AV recordings. Sikkim Manipal University
ccording to Ajay Rana, Amity extensively uses digital library services for its faculty and student use, key among them being Cambridge University Press , IEEE Xplore , Oxford University Press and ACM Digital Library. In addition, publishers (e.g. Springer and Gale) are now also providing e-access to their published printed books.
primed to make the cultural shift away from the heavy reference materials and textbooks that have defined our youth.
Recommendations Despite the slow uptake of e-books in India, Chitnis sees the possibility of this space growing by leaps and bounds, if approached correctly. He advises educational institutions looking to take the e-book leap of faith to involve their faculty and students as far as possible, since they are most likely to be using e-books in their non-academic lives and will therefore be far more up-to-date with the latest technologies. That said, Chitnis also recommends institutions themselves to take the opportunity to review reading material, switching to modern books with e-book equivalents, which can easily be updated based on the latest changes in technology. Chitnis also suggests institutions abandon strong Digital Rights Management or “copy-protection” measures. Chitnis suggests that there isn’t a single form of DRM that can survive minutes in the hands of a dedicated pirate, and instead often complicates or detracts from the legitimate consumer’s usage experience. He points towards technical publishers like O’Reilly that do not use DRM, yet are doing well in their space. Atul does, however, recommend that publishers price their e-books right, and make them easily available. February 2011 EDUTECH
EXPERTISE DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
BY AARON B. SCHWARZ firstname.lastname@example.org
The High-rise Campus Draft
ew university campuses under development in India today, are being designed as multilevel facilities: necessary due to spiralling land prices and lack of space. Designing campus buildings with multiple floors is a complicated affair. And, the challenge should not be taken lightly.
In order to do it right, planning high-rises requires an understanding of how a structure will be used on a daily basis, and mapping areas that will see the maximum traffic. The biggest challenge is how to move students vertically through a building.
Mixed Uses The modern society’s urban fabric has been adorned with high-rise offices and residences for a long time now; however, their “purpose” is different from that of a high-rise campus. Rule of thumb planning suggests that an office environment should ideally support one person per 100 usable square feet (approximately), while classrooms are designed for one person per 15 to 25 usable square feet—four to six times the number of people. In an office building, the commuter rush is extended over an hour or so. Such luxury of time does not exist in-between classes. If the design of an academic building places priority on high-occupancy spaces, then the quantity, capacity and speed of elevators or escalators will need to be sized accordingly. In suburban or rural campuses, most classroom buildings are two to threestoreys high, and students use stairs, and not elevators or escalators. Such
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Aaron is a Principal and Executive Director at Perkins Eastman. He has more than 25 years of experience in architecture. His award winning portfolio includes numerous projects for colleges and universities in United States and other countries. He is currently involved in designing some university projects in India
services come into play as soon as we begin to exceed three or four storeys. Also, as a building gets taller—safety becomes even more critical. Fire stairs need to be designed to evacuate a larger numbers of occupants in a campus. Vertical transportation requirements get heavier as campuses get taller. Result: a far more inefficient building than a low-rise structure. Also, the cost rises substantially. The resulting usable square footage for teaching decreases dramatically.
Tall Order? Not Really High-rise university buildings are best designed and used as “mixed-use facilities”—not your standard or average planning methodology, especially in case of traditional Indian campuses. In this sort of planning, it is best to mix classrooms, laboratories, faculty spaces and lounge spaces in a single
Aaron B. Schwarz
building. Several urban campuses are designed with student residential towers on top of classroom podiums. In such a space, floors closest to the ground are reserved for high traffic, public functions. Mixed-use facilities is an idea worth considering in both urban high-rise campuses, as well as on lower density rural campuses. The common notion that campuses need to be “zoned” into specific use precincts, should be challenged. One of United State’s first and most heralded campuses, University of Virginia, was initially designed with mix-use buildings by President Thomas Jefferson, its planner.
Designing Properly Clearly planning the functions and spaces where they would be carried out in a high-rise is an advantageous way to decrease the amount of mechanised vertical infrastructure required. Locate the most public, highest occupancy spaces on the lowest floors. And the most private, lower occupancy spaces on the upper floors. Limiting most of the general classroom spaces to the ground floor, plus two to three floors, allows stairs to be the primary mode for moving the largest number of people in the building, thereby taking the load off from the elevators. Placing the faculty office suites in the higher floors of the building makes those floors less populated, with lower elevator demands. Mid-occupancy functions to be located on the middle floors can include libraries or learning centres, laboratories, and more subject-specific teaching (not general classroom) spaces. The ground floor (or, take the floors on hilly venues) should be considered for those functions that need street access, as well as those that require high occupancy. In our cities, we should reserve these areas for functions that can also be used by the public, such as retail or food services that are basically for the general public. This is an important urban gesture, as well as a source of revenue for the institution. It is critical that the design of urban campuses address the notion of the city’s pedestrian life and the interface between the city and institution. Placing the functions in a building based on its
HIGH-RISE BASICS: Locate the most public, highest occupancy spaces on the lowest floors. And the most private, lower occupancy spaces on the upper floors
occupancy demands may or may not coincide with the institution’s pedagogy. For example, placing faculty offices at the top of the building separate from classroom spaces and in the “ivory tower” may be the antithesis of an institution’s culture. Stacking the mixed-use building in this manner also has structural challenges. The large general classroom spaces should be column-free. Placing them in the lower floors requires longer structural spans to support the weight of the many floors above. Other spaces may also need ground-floor street access. For example, some engineering laboratories may need truck access for moving equipment and material. Due to these reasons (and several others), it is often not possible to restrict high-occupancy spaces to the lower levels, which can be served by stairs. Therefore, elevators or escalators need to be deployed to move large quantities of people through the building at the same time. It is recommended that a vertical transportation consultant be involved to calculate the capacity and speed requirements, in order to size and design the appropriate number of elevators or escalators. Escalators are much faster at moving people through few floors of a building without “wait times”. They are also a bit more user-friendly and less claustrophobic. February 2011 EDUTECH
Aaron B. Schwarz
Landscape quadrangles found on college campuses are important interaction spaces. In many ways, these are the heart of life on campus where the ‘community’ gathers in both scheduled and serendipitous ways These are the primary reasons, along with keeping shops in view, they are so widely used in shopping malls. However, they do take up large amounts of real estate. They are costly and require considerable maintenance. n Skip-Stop Scheme: In order to reduce the number of elevators required in an academic building, there are strategies that can be employed. The skip-stop scheme is one. In this, elevators only stop at every other floor. By reducing the number of stops, speed and wait time area is increased. In this scenario, the building’s users get on and off the elevator at every other floor, and then, if required (unless they are physically-challenged), walk up or down, if they are destined for a nonstop floor. Variations are also possible where the number of floors between stops is increased requiring more stairs. n Sky Lobby Concept: Similar to the skip-stop strategy is a concept which is similar to the sky lobby concept used in skyscrapers used as offices. Here high-speed, high-capacity elevators are used to move occupants through the building to only a few designated floors. From these floors, other elevators are used to move between the floors “connected” to the designated sky-lobby floor. All elevators, therefore, don’t run through all floors. The number of shaft ways on any given floor is thereby less than the number of shaft ways in the building. This strategy works better if a building is divided into different use zones, where occupants don’t need to travel to other areas constantly through the day. n Mini-Atria: A variant form of the sky lobby strategy is to create mini-atria within the tower. Each atrium may include several floors, for example four or five. A few high-speed elevators travel from ground floor through the entire building and only stop only at one of the floors within a given atrium. Stairs, perhaps escalators or other elevators service floors within each atrium, but do not connect atrium to atrium. This scheme works particularly well if uses of a building are logically distributed.
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For example, one atrium could connect all of the general classroom floors. Another could connect large, shared facilities, such as multi-story library, learning centres and open access lounges and reading rooms. One atrium could connect student activity and food services. Each of these uses are stacked on top of each other as opposed to, spread into separate buildings on a low-rise.
HIGH-RISE BASICS: In a two or threestoreyed campus building, poor design decisions are not that catastrophic. In the high-rise scenario, these same mistakes can seriously mar the quality of student experience
One of the issues to consider in high-rise academic buildings is how to create an equivalent to the open landscape quadrangle. In addition to providing natural green space on a campus, the landscape quadrangles found on college campuses are important interaction spaces. In many ways, it is the heart of life on campus where the “community” gathers in both scheduled and serendipitous ways. It is also a place where students can visually see what is going on in other parts of the campus and are reminded what resources the overall campus has to offer. It is easy to forget about these important spaces in the high-rise. Creating an “atria” as previously discussed, as well as other floor openings that allow students to have visual connections between floors, can take the place of the outdoor spaces on a land rich campus. Depending on the design, atria can be designed as completely hermetically sealed, or as an indoor or an outdoor spaces, with plenty of greenery. Green roofs should also be considered. The design of high-rise academic buildings requires experience and expertise. The institution and the design team need to carefully evaluate how a campus “works”. In a two or three-storeyed campus building, poor design decisions are not that catastrophic. In the high-rise scenario, these same mistakes can seriously mar the quality of student experience. Subscribe to the daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters
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THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE FROM
56 MERGER MANIA SWEEPS ACROSS EUROPE’S VARSITIES
O F H I G H E R E D U C AT I O N
6 Top Smartphone Apps to Improve Teaching, Research, and Your Life Academics describe going mobile to plan lectures, keep up with scholarship, and run classes BY JEFFREY R. YOUNG
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ot long ago, it seemed absurd for academics to carry around a computer, camera, and GPS device everywhere they went. Actually, it still seems absurd. But many professors (and administrators) now do just that in the form of all-in-one devices. Smartphones or tablet computers combine many functions in a hand-held gadget, and some users are discovering clever ways to teach and do research with the ubiquitous machines. For many on campus, checking e-mail on the go is the first killer app of the hand-held world. The downside: Having that ability can mean working more than ever—answering student e-mails while in line at the grocery store, responding to a journal editor during lunch. There can be benefits, though. Some professors say they find that carrying the internet in their pocket helps them collaborate, teach, and collect data in new ways that include e-mail but go far beyond it. A handful of colleges are running expensive pilot projects in which they give out iPhones or iPads to students and professors to see what happens when everyone goes mobile. Some of the most innovative applications for hand-held devices, however, have come from professors working on their own. They find ways to adapt popular smartphone software to the classroom setting, or even write their own code. That’s what I discovered when I put out a call on Twitter, as well as to a major e-mail list of college public relations officers, asking about the areas in which professors and college officials are making the most of their mobile devices. Here are the six scenarios
that people mentioned most often. I have highlighted the apps in each category that got users’ highest marks.
Reading Scholarly Articles
Instead of clicking print when saving an article for later reading, many professors now send the document to their phone or Taking Attendance tablet computer. Those I talked to, cited a Calling roll may not seem like an activity that range of apps designed for the task, though needs an upgrade. But David M. Reed, a proDropbox was cited most frequently. The Sign up for a free weekly fessor of computer science at the Capital commercial app is available for iPhones, electronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at University, Ohio, saw his iPhone as a way to iPads, and for smartphones or tablets runChronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter streamline the process and keep a digital ning Google’s Android operating system. The Chronicle of Higher Education is backup. “I used to use a piece of paper,” he David Parry, an assistant professor of emera US-based company with a weekly said. “What would happen is invariably I gent media and communications at the newspaper and a website updated would lose that piece of paper halfway University of Texas at Dallas, said he uses daily, at Global.Chronicle.com, that cover all aspects of university life. through the semester.” Dropbox for both scholarly reading and With over 90 writers, editors, and He couldn’t find any software to keep those keeping track of documents for the courses correspondents stationed around the paper check marks on a smartphone, so he he teaches. “The key for me is I store all my globe,The Chronicle provides timely wrote his own app about two years ago, in a syllabuses there,” he told me. “Anytime news and analysis of academic ideas, two-week burst of coding. He called his tasksomeone has a question about a syllabus, I developments and trends. specific app “Attendance”, and put it on the have it—anywhere.” So when a student iTunes store for other professors, charging a e-mails to ask about an assignment deadline couple of bucks (and adding features as colwhile Parry is at the grocery store, he knows. leagues suggested them). So far he has earned about $20,000 from Other options for building a personal virtual library are the more than 7,500 people who have virtually shouted “Here”. GoodReader and Evernote, both of which allow readers to highSeveral professors said their favorite feature of the app (which light and take notes on any PDF saved to the system. Students, now sells for $4.99) is a flashcard function that helps them too, say they find the services useful. Shep McAllister, a junior learn the names of their students. It literally puts names to at Trinity University, in Texas, who writes for the HackCollegfaces, if professors add photos supplied by the college. Some eStudent blog about students’ use of technology, said he turns to professors take pictures of their students on the first day of class the iPad version of GoodReader for much of his assigned readand put them in the app. An iPad version takes advantage of the ing, because his university’s electronic reserve offers docularger screen of Apple’s tablet computer. ments in PDF, so he can easily transfer them to the service. “It’s like you’re holding the actual page in front of you,” he told me.
A professor at the University of California at Davis is asking drivers to help him with his research on roadkill by logging any dead squirrel, possum, or other critter they see along the highway. At first, he asked people to write down the location and details about the carcass on a scrap of paper and upload the information to a website when they got home. Then the research team built an iPhone app to let citizen-scientists participate at the scene. It’s more convenient, and it gives the researchers better data, because a phone’s GPS feature can send along exact location co-ordinates (and the app encourages users to take a picture with the phone’s camera). The lead researcher at Davis, Fraser Shilling, in the department of environmental science and policy, said the app should hit the iTunes store any day now, though he and his colleagues haven’t decided whether the name will be WildlifeObs or simply Roadkill. That’s just one of many research projects adding smartphone interfaces to so-called “crowd science”, in which the public is invited to add structured data to an online database. “For crowd science, I think it’s definitely the next step,” Shilling told me, although he says he prefers logging roadkill with pen and paper, which he thinks encourages more colorful write-ups than an app. “My kids tell me that I’m a Neanderthal,” he jokes.
Recording Notes Just having a camera on hand can sometimes help in the classroom. Aaron Delwiche, an associate professor of communication at Trinity, often uses the camera built into his Android phone to snap a picture of his whiteboard before he erases it. When he breaks the class into groups for a project, the photos remind him who was on each team and what they came up with. High-end whiteboards offer a function to print out or e-mail their contents, but some professors say their phone cameras do just as well. McAllister, the student blogger at Trinity, uses his iPhone’s camera as a document scanner, with an app called JotNot Pro. After he takes a picture of a page of text, the app (which costs 99 cents), can turn it into a PDF file for easy review later. “If I get a handout from a professor, I’m always afraid I’m going to lose it,” he said, noting that he tries to scan any class-related documents with his phone.
Using Textbook Tools Cellphone screens are tiny compared with textbook pages, but several publishers now offer apps to read their e-textbooks on mobile devices. CourseSmart, a company that sells electronic versions of textbooks from major publishers, offers a free February 2011 EDUTECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE iPhone app to read books purchased through its service. It may not be ideal for long reading sessions, but it could be a handy way for professors to look over the material to remember what their students are reading. Textbook publishers see the iPad and other tablets as a better medium to one day replace printed textbooks completely. A company named Inkling creates textbooks made for iPads, with interactive features and videos—things that paper volumes cannot do.
available for years on laptops and desktop computers, but some professors say the touch-screen interface of smartphones or tablet computers enhances the process, letting scholars toss around ideas with a flick of the finger. Gerald C. Gannod, director of mobile learning at Miami University, Ohio, recommends Thinking Space for Android devices, MindBlowing for the iPhone, and Popplet for the iPad. Delwiche, of Trinity University, likes MindJet. “It’s great when organising papers or project ideas,” he said. For professors who shift to the app world, there’s one gadget they can do without: that messy ballpoint pen.
Brainstorming for classroom talks has gone high-tech with “mind mapping” software that encourages arranging thoughts and ideas in non-linear diagrams. These programmes have been
Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter
University Mergers Sweep Across Europe Leaders hope larger, more-diverse institutions will improve research
he cluster of glass buildings that serves as the headquarters of Nokia, the global telecommunications giant that is Finland’s largest company, is a short stroll from the main campus of Aalto University, one of the country’s newest higher education institutions. But the symbolic shadow the company casts across Finland’s educational, business, and even political landscape is long and omnipresent. “Where is the new Nokia?” asks Tuula Teeri, a molecular geneticist who was recruited from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology to serve as Aalto’s inaugural rector. “We need to stimulate innovation.” That concern was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Aalto, which resulted from the merger of three institutions—in arts and design, business, and technology. By bringing together such seemingly disparate fields, Aalto’s founders hope to stimu-
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BY AISHA LABI
GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM late new research and thus maintain the economic competitiveness that Finland has earned largely through the success of its technology sector. Aalto’s creation is a cornerstone of a new national higher education strategy. It is also part of a wave of university mergers happening across Europe in recent years, driven by concerns over economic competitiveness, research quality, and international reputation. In Finland, the number of universities has decreased from 20 to 15 in just a few years. In Denmark, 25 universities and research institutions have been reduced to eight universities and three research institutions since 2007. In France, the University of Strasbourg—the country’s largest institution—was formed in 2009 through the merger of three universities that had been loosely linked before being broken up in the early 1970s in a national trend at that time. And last month, the merger of two universities—one of which had itself been formed from two institutions early last year—to create a new “super-university” was announced in Wales, where the government has pledged to reduce the number of institutions through mergers. In those and other countries, including Belgium, Germany, and Sweden, universities of varying size and reputational heft have relinquished their institutional independence in exchange for the perceived advantages that come with being subsumed into a larger institution. In some instances, the impetus for change was largely from the bottom up. Elsewhere the mergers resulted from changes in national policy to streamline university financing and concentrated disciplinary expertise.
Increased Autonomy For the policy makers and university administrators behind the recent university mergers, the spectre of global rankings looms large. Some explicitly acknowledge rankings to be part of the motivation behind their decision-making; others say the tables are less of a driving force but still acknowledge their influence. But other factors are also at play, including shifts in attitudes across
Europe about university autonomy and whether all institutions are—or should be—considered equal. Most European universities have historically been public institutions with limited independence from government oversight and financial control. But this model is being reworked in many countries, as institutions seek more say over their administration and public money dwindles, or as governments focus their spending more specifically. Across Europe, the long-held conceit that all of a country’s universities are essentially equal has also given way to an acceptance of institutional hierarchies. Germany’s Excellence Initiative, which singles out select institutions for billions of dollars in extra financing, has been the clearest example of this shift. Recent changes in Finland reflect a similar transition.
fund-raising campaign, backed by generous government subsidies, meant to help catapult it to “the list of top universities in the world,” says Jyri Tawast, director of the effort. Aalto has raised 120 million euros of its goal of 200 million Euros, set for next June. The government has pledged to match funds raised from private donors by a ratio of 2.5:1. That means that Aalto’s expected 200 million Euros will translate into 700 million Euros, or about $920-million, once the government’s matching funds arrive.
Motivated By Rankings In France, a raft of national reforms to overhaul the higher education system includes a plan for all universities to become officially autonomous by 2012. The government endorses closer links among institutions as a way of driving
FOR ADMINISTRATORS BEHIND THE VARSITY MERGERS, THE SPECTRE OF GLOBAL RANKINGS LOOMS LARGE. SOME ACKNOWLEDGE RANKINGS TO BE PART OF THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THEIR DECISION “We have this tradition of a highereducation system with no status hierarchy,” says Jussi Välimaa, of the Finnish Institute for Education Research at the University of Jyväskylä. The decision to single out Aalto for a concentration of national resources is “a radical change in our higher education policy.” Välimaa points out that the university’s creation paralleled sweeping reforms across Finnish higher education. As of the beginning of this year, all of the country’s universities became independent legal entities, with greater autonomy and economic power, including the ability to own their own property. Aalto is one of two institutions that now enjoy semi-private status as foundations. And it is in the final stages of an ambitious
some of the country’s institutions up the international rankings. Nicolas Sarkozy, the nation’s president, has taken France’s relatively poor showing on the best-known rankings to heart and has spoken repeatedly of his goal of having two French universities in the top 20 and 10 in the top 100 of the world rankings. The French government has helped spur the merger trend with increased financing for 17 clusters of universities and research bodies that have been formed since 2007. The co-operation required for their formation has in some cases become the genesis of closer alliances and full-fledged mergers. Andrée Sursock, a senior adviser at the European University Association, says February 2011 EDUTECH
THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE the guiding principle behind university mergers in France is to expand research capacity through interdisciplinary work. The ambitious Saclay Campus project, on the outskirts of Paris, envisions a grouping of some two dozen universities, grandes écoles (as France’s elite schools of higher education are known), clusters, and research institutes. Its director has said that the explicit goal of the $6-billion project, which is due for completion by 2015, is to rank among the top 10 universities in the world. In Denmark, some academics have gladly chosen the merger route. Sven Frøkjær is dean of the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark’s largest university. Until 2007, he was rector of the Danish University of Pharmaceutical
possibilities for curricular development and interdisciplinary research. Given the growing weight assigned to university rankings, the push in many countries toward institutional mergers is understandable, says Simon Marginson, of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, an expert on the rise of the global university. Research prowess is heavily weighted by most rankings, and institutional size counts more than per capita research performance on measures such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, the most influential global ranking. “Many nations are looking to put together areas of research strength so that it will show up in the rankings,” Marginson says. “It’s really just simply a
IN 2007, THE DANISH GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED A PROCESS OF ‘VOLUNTARY MERGERS’ INTENDED TO STRENGTHEN THE COUNTRY’S RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL CAPABILITIES, INCREASE TIES WITH BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY Sciences, an independent institution of some 1,300 students and 500 staff that, although highly regarded in its field, “would never have had a chance” to feature in any world rankings, he concedes. In 2007, the Danish government announced a process of “voluntary mergers” intended to strengthen the country’s research and educational capabilities, increase ties with business and industry, and improve institutions’ ability to attract international research financing, such as European Union money. The small institution found itself highly sought after by potential merger suitors. “We were quite attractive, and discussed other options,” says Frøkjær, before ultimately deciding that becoming part of the University of Copenhagen offered the best
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matter of the way the index works.” If the Shanghai tables measured research on the basis of per capita output rather than institutional size, he says, “we would see a trend toward disaggregations” rather than mergers.
Inspiration By Design In Finland, Aalto’s origins lie in a national discussion about the need to establish a new university to foster innovation and compete on the international stage alongside the University of Helsinki, which regularly places in Shanghai’s top 100. The proposal was controversial, says Välimaa, noting that at least one institution objected to the plan, pointing out that it already possessed the kind of interdisciplinary breadth that was being discussed
for the new “innovation” university. The idea for Aalto, in its current form, originated with the former rector of the University of Art and Design Helsinki, who proposed that if the country really wanted to stimulate innovation, his institution should join forces with the Helsinki University of Technology and the Helsinki School of Economics. “We thought that these three areas— technology, art and design, and business—could do something quite useful in the long term together,” says Jari Jokinen, Aalto’s director of policy and foresight. The impetus was “not to increase the number of students, but to increase quality and concentrate on higher quality in research and education.” The interdisciplinary approach embodied in Aalto is in evidence at the Design Factory, a cavernous, garage-like structure on the university’s suburban Otaniemi campus. The space is sub-divided into areas that can serve interchangeably as classrooms, places to eat, social space, or meeting rooms, all of which can be reconfigured if more or less space is needed. In the machine shop, a wooden model airplane is being worked on by two students. Maija Itkonen, an Aalto alumna and chief executive of the company PowerKiss, demonstrates its cordless charging device in a room that serves as the fledgling firm’s headquarters. Andrew Clutterbuck, the factory’s development co-ordinator and chief coach, presides over the set-up from a reception area that doubles as a coffee bar. Bright primary colors are splashed across walls, and the furnishings tend toward minimalist and modern. The space evokes a kind of anything-goes, start-up vibe. Nokia is the factory’s main corporate sponsor. Strong ties with industry permeate much of the discussion of innovation at Aalto, and there is little evidence of the qualms that often prevail in academia about links with the business world. “Finland is to some extent a club, and people know each other,” says Jyri Tawast, the university’s fund-raising director. “We are used to talking openly.” Mikko Koria is development director of Aalto’s International Design Business
GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM Management Programme, a master’s programme that began in 1995 as a minor concentration in a joint master’s programme run by the three institutions. The programme, structured around a year-long project with a business partner, was something of a precursor to the institutional merger that created the university more than a decade later. “We did not cause the merger, but we were a positive example in a process that was somehow already under way in the minds of people,” says Koria, an architect with a doctorate in business administration. “We were a good example of what interdisciplinarity can achieve.”
CROSSDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH, ENGAGEMENT, THAT IS ON DISPLAY AT THE DESIGN FACTORY IS AN ARGUMENT FOR INSTITUTIONAL FUSIONS
Merger Mania? The cross-disciplinary research and engagement that is on display at the Design Factory is a powerful argument for the kinds of institutional fusions that have been taking place across Europe, some observers say. “All else being
equal, there is an underlying logic that bigger is better,” especially in the sciences, says Marginson. Larger institutions have “the potential of more concentrated firepower, more diversity, more potential for cross-fertilisation.”
For Aalto, success could mean something as prosaic as a better mobile phone. As Teeri, the rector, observes, science, design, and marketing are increasingly connected. “You need design, not only because you need beautiful things, but increasingly you need designers who can understand what the consumer needs,” she says. Ultimately, whether a merger is successful may depend on what motivated it. Already some academics fear that the trend could become something of a fad in higher education. “What would worry me,” says Sursock, of the European University Association, “is if this becomes the fashion, and ministries start encouraging or providing incentives for mergers when they don’t have any raison d’être.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter
PERSPECTIVE AMRITA DASS,
Founder Director, Institute for Career Studies, Lucknow
Building Empires of the Mind Institutes of higher education need to revamp the curriculum, create intellectual capital and deliver on best practises to become world-class centres of learning
e are now on the threshold of the second decade of this millennium. In this decade, I believe India will witness its second golden age. Whereas developed countries such as the US, UK and Japan will face a talent shortage, India will witness a talent surplus. But, the truth remains that much of that talent pool is untapped. Thus, the task ahead is to strive to be a world-class centre of learning as India’s destiny is being shaped in her classrooms. Our target should be to build: n Qualified faculty n Excellence in research n Effective teaching, with focus on cognitive skills n State-of-the art infrastructure n Meritorious students n Well-defined autonomous governance structures n Government and non-government sources of funding n A management team with strategic vision n Continuous benchmarking n Confidence to set our own agenda To achieve the above, we must acknowledge the limitations of our institutions. Since independence, there has been inadequate focus on higher education by successive governments (both at centre and state level). Dr R. A. Mashelkar’s, vision of India becoming “the world’s number one knowledge production centre” may be ambitious,
EDUTECH February 2011
but it is achievable. Before we get there, some immediate steps need to be taken. India must upgrade its faculty by recruiting qualified professionals with a passion for teaching, offer them commensurate remuneration and encourage research. Moreover, institutions should hold regular faculty development programmes. Focusing on the creation of intellectual capital by up-scaling research and development as well as publication of research findings and literature of an academic nature is also essential. Revamping the content and curriculum to ensure quality and relevance by incorporating the latest trends in each field is advisable along with moving away from traditional methods of ‘lecturing’ in classrooms to facilitating a learning and research-based knowledge approach. It is also important to introduce and integrate new and innovative approaches in the delivery of best practices of higher education, improving standards of assessment and evaluation and besides academics,
R. A. MASHELKAR’S, VISION OF INDIA BECOMING THE ‘WORLD’S NUMBER ONE KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION CENTRE, MAY BE AMBITIOUS, BUT IT IS ACHIEVABLE
imparting necessary soft skills. This way, the graduates will be much sought-after not just domestically, but internationally as well. The other advisable initiatives are: n Improving the infrastructure of most universities and institutions of higher learning in terms of teaching facilities, libraries and laboratories as well as accommodation facilities for students n Bridging the gap between school and tertiary education through appropriate backward and forward linkages n Establishing strategic links among institutions of higher learning and industries, scientific labs, business entities, etc. for enhancing the relevance of curricula as well as the employability of graduates. The impact of the above will be optimised through: n Streamlining the bureaucracy and enhancing the efficiency of governing bodies and administrators of higher education n Enhancing parameters of quality through self-regulation and accreditation n Rationalising fees, which may be offset by an increase of scholarships and fee waivers n Reviewing and redefining the role of regulatory authorities and expanding educational and career counselling, thus facilitating a career by choice. Empires of the 21st century will be empires of the mind. This truism compels us to refocus on strategic measures in higher education. Dr Amrita Dass is the Founder Director, Institute for Career Studies, Lucknow (www.icscareersonline. com). To read an extended version of this article, please log on to www.edu-leaders.com
Eight visionaries discuss their wish list for 2011