Call for a National Policy on Internationalisation
he foreign universities bill is hanging fire and the academia is at sea. India must wake up to the need for internationalisation of higher education and put in place a policy framework to address the various concerns, if it wants to reap the benefits.
The foreign universities bill has turned out to be like a car with square wheels. Although the bill is still awaiting approval of the Parliament, it has generated excitement and bewilderment among many institutions in India and abroad. There are serious questions about the bill’s effectiveness and relevance. Also, there are a few foreign institutions, like Lancaster University, which decided not to wait for the bill and have started their campuses in partnership with GD Goenka. This is a classic example of how a disjointed approach can render a policy irrelevant. It highlights the need for a comprehensive internationalisation policy on higher education which can maximise the relevance and benefits at three primary levels: infusing excellence, encouraging institutional diversity and building capacity. Jane Knight defined internationalisation as the “process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of postsecondary education.” This definition clarifies that internationalisation is a much broader, more comprehensive and flexible
EduTech August 2011
concept. It recognises and encourages diverse approaches and accepts that there is no one prescriptive formula for all institutions. The context in India is different, and so, the concept of internationalisation should be adapted to the unique challenges and needs of the country.
Infusing Excellence There is no denying that Indian higher education is struggling to infuse quality at the systemic level and has limited itself to a few islands of excellence like the IIMs and IITs. Consider the recent case of the 100 per cent cut-off requirement by the Sri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi for admission to undergraduate programme. Instances like these, question the whole premise that Indian higher education is reforming and expanding access to college courses. In reality, the availability of quality institutions is unable to keep pace with demand. Indian institutions are facing a crisis of confidence where many students are aspiring for the same select institutions. A systematic approach to internationalisation may help bring in global good practices and more high quality institutions. For example, in just a decade, ISB, Hyderabad has emerged as an
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