Shri Kapil Sibal Union Minister for Human Resource Development; Science & Technology and Earth Sciences; Communications and Information Technology said quality education and excellence in science research and Indian Universities, we have set out three generic principles that any new institute of higher education needs to embrace. They are providing access to educational opportunities to all who desire and need it; second, affordability by reducing financial barriers; and third, building quality and accountability to ensure that what is taught is relevant and at global levels, delivering good value for money. This is exactly what we are seeking to incorporate in the thirty new Central Universities that we are setting up.
Speaking at the inaugural function of the 98th Indian Science Congress at SRM University, Chennai in Tamil Nadu today, he further said, “The National Innovation Council (NIC) which will prepare a road map for the Decade of Innovation will help to have approach and methodology to create an inclusive and sustainable innovative Indian ecosystem.” Regarding higher education he said, “The Gross Enrolment Ratio higher education in is today around a mere 15%. Changing labour markets and demographics are driving a “new” demand for higher education. This has come mainly from two groups that traditionally were not known to attend universities: a “rising” lower-middle class and women. This will necessitate many more universities and colleges to be opened in the years to come which are estimated minimum doubling over the next decade. We must also broaden our skills base beyond a few centres of excellence and foster innovation on a national scale. We need to create and enhance our competitive edge. For this to happen, quality and merit-based education for the entire population is a must.”
To reduce the supply-demand gap in higher education and for gross enrolment in higher education, the Ministry has taken several steps to address both these aspects. Shri Sibal said, “An effective quality assurance system will be in place and provide a common frame of reference for students and others to obtain credible information on academic quality across institutions, domestic as well as international. The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 has been introduced in Parliament to provide mandatory accreditation and creation of an institutional structure for the purpose. This is in accordance with the general principle of moving from an “inspection approval” based mechanism of recognizing institutions to a “verification assessment” method. A National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) will be set up to regulate higher education. An Education Finance Corporation will also be set up to refinance educational loans to students, especially from lower income families seeking to pursue professional courses, at much more favourable terms than available presently and also provide not-for-profit educational institutions access to low cost funds.
The Minister said that our goal is of Gross Enrolment in higher education should be doubled to at least 30% by the end of 2020, which in real terms means tripling of enrolments in the tertiary sector from around 13 million to 40 million. This will entail massive capacity building, both institutional as well as human. Besides enhancing the quantum of teachers and faculty in colleges and universities we have also to improve their quality.
Describing the strategy to realize the Vision of India as an Innovation Hot Spot, he disclosed an agenda which will include long term academia-industry collaborative relationships with open access to and resources free of intellectual property (IP) entanglements; better integration of corporate with higher educational and research institutions, encourage multidisciplinary collaboration among business, government, academia and R&D thereby creating an environment that supports technological development; recognising the contribution of young researchers to the vitality and quality of the research system put in place more programmes for support of young researchers. In addition to this enhance significantly publicly funded research will be enhanced, modernisation and up gradation of technology in collaboration with concerned government and economic Ministries in use by the small and medium enterprises; encourage the formation of International R&D, technology and innovation consortia between Indian and foreign entities and tax incentives to businesses that collaborate with academia and R&D researchers are included.