The universities are required to compete globally for research-ranking to become world-class, President Pranab Mukherjee has said. He said there is an emphasis on nation-building through institution-building and “we are now increasingly being called upon to think about the role of universities in the larger global context”.
The President was speaking at the launch of a book titled ‘Future of Indian Universities: Comparative and International Perspectives’, which was released by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and edited by O P Jindal Global University (JGU) Vice-Chancellor C Raj Kumar.
“The universities of today are required to compete globally for research-ranking to help build world-class universities,” the President said, adding that as the future universities gear up for global competition to find their place on the tables of institutional rankings, “let us not forget the difference between world-class and world-minded”.
He said now the needs are much more complex, along with the post-independence emphasis on nation-building through institution-building and “we are now increasingly being called upon to think about the role of universities in the larger global context of an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.”
Speaking at the programme, the Nobel laureate emphasised on the need for freedom and autonomy of higher educational institutions in India. “We need to think about why India does not rank among the top 200 universities in the world. The difference between Indian universities and those in other countries is that they are autonomous and free from political policies and obstacles. “The mindset in this country needs to change to bring excellence and freedom in the field of education,” Sen said.
Virander S Chauhan, the acting Chairman of University Grants Commission said that the quality of higher education in India has to be viewed not just by students, but by parents and teachers as well. “Indian universities have tremendous potential and need to accelerate their pace. This can only happen if we have good leadership. The public sector needs a huge transformation in the field of higher education, and private universities need to be a model for quality and excellence,” he said.
The book is a collaborative effort of scholars who have raised questions regarding the quality and excellence of higher education in India.
Professor Kumar, who has also compiled the book, said universities are compelled to rethink their roles. “At a time when the state of universities and their value to the larger society is being increasingly debated, universities are compelled to rethink their roles and the role of the higher education system,” he said.
JGU Chancellor Naveen Jindal, who was also present at the function, said the varsities of future must become central pillars of growth and development of a nation that churns out intelligent minds for the 21st century.