Acumen Global Gateway Summit Sessions: India’s National Education Policy – Opportunities for Collaboration for international institutions

With Adam Grotsky, Prof. N V Varghese, Prof. Somak Roychaudhury, Dr.Pankaj Mittal, & Dr. Shashank Shah

Education forms the bedrock of any society, shaping the minds of future generations and empowering individuals to unlock their full potential. The National Education Policy 2020 aims to revolutionise the Indian education landscape, fostering holistic learning experiences that cultivate critical thinking, creativity, and practical skills. It envisions an inclusive and learner-centric system that equips students with the knowledge and competencies needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

Join Dr. Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities (AIU), Professor N.V. Varghese, Former Vice Chancellor of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, Dr. Somak Raychaudhury,  Vice Chancellor, Ashoka University, Dr. Shashank Shah, Director (Senior Specialist, Higher Education), NITI Aayog and Adam Grotsky, Executive Director, United States – India Educational Foundation (USIEF), as they discuss this landmark policy and what the future of Indian higher education could hold for India’s student population.

Three Key Takeaways

  • The NEP aims to move beyond rote memorisation and traditional assessment methods, focusing instead on fostering critical thinking, creativity, problem solving abilities, and practical skills. By nurturing well rounded individuals, the NEP strives to equip students with the capabilities needed to succeed in an ever changing world.
  • The policy recognises the importance of addressing disparities in educational opportunities across regions, socio-economic backgrounds, and marginalised communities. By implementing measures such as the establishment of schools in underrepresented areas and providing scholarships, the NEP aims to bridge these gaps and ensure that every student has access to quality education.
  • By leveraging technology, the NEP envisions creating a more interactive and personalised learning environment, promoting online resources, and enabling remote education to reach learners in remote areas. This emphasis on digital learning reflects the NEP’s commitment to keeping pace with the digital age and preparing students for a technology driven future.

Below is the transcript

Adam Grotsky

Thank you all once again for joining us this morning for the session. We have the unenviable task of covering the national education policy in one hour’s time. But I think that the panel is up for that. 

I am thrilled to be here to moderate this session. You know, I’ve been in India now for the last 15 years as the Executive Director of the United States India Educational Foundation. And I can say that without a doubt, this is the most exciting time to be part of the higher education sector here in India. 

The National Education Policy of 2020, has created incredible potential for improvement for expansion, and of course for collaboration in Indian higher education. USIEF for our part over the last 73 years, has administered and funded over 20,000 Fulbright and Fulbright NAIRU fellowships. 

Very recently, we hosted 14 Senior Higher Education Administrators on our two week Fulbright NAIRU international education seminar. We visited 14 universities over the course of two weeks, and had many discussions on the National Education Policy and the possibilities that it opens up. There’s really incredible momentum and energy here in India and from potential partners in the United States, as well as from around the world, I’m sure. 

What’s so exciting about this summit is how it will continue to build on this momentum. And I’m confident that within the next five to ten years, Indian institutions with strong collaborative support from international partner institutions, will be able to reach many of the goals set out by the national education policy of 2020. 

In today’s session, we’ll discuss some of the key objectives of the NEP in the higher education space, how they’re being delivered, and the role and contribution of international collaboration and partnership and in supporting the success of the NEP 2020. 

We have an incredible panel here with us today. I’m sure that we could spend all day with you discussing this. But as I said, we’ve only got one hour together. In a second, I will introduce the group. Each of the panellists will have about 10 minutes to go over their specific topic and then hopefully we will have about 10 or 15 minutes for questions and answers and I want to emphasise the questions part of the q&a. 

When we do get to q&a, please limit your questions to just a few sentences so that our panellists can share their expertise with you. For further comments, they’ll be available at coffee breaks and during lunch time. So without any further delay, let me briefly introduce each of our distinguished panellists and the topics that they will cover this morning. Their full bios are available, of course in the materials that you’ve received as part of the summit. 

First of all, to my left we have Professor N.V Varghese. Professor Varghese is former Vice Chancellor of National University of Education Planning and Administration here in New Delhi. And previously he was the Head of governance and management in education at UNESCO’s International Institute for Education Planning in Paris. He will begin by outlining some key goals and objectives of the NEP with a focus on the priorities for the higher education sector as they are set out by the NEP. He’ll give his take on whether we are on track to deliver these and what positive progress he has seen in the implementation to date. Please join me in welcoming Professor Varghese. 

Great. We will then go to Dr. Pankaj Mittal. Dr. Mittal is the Secretary General of the Association of Indian Universities and only the second woman to hold this post in AIU 97 years of existence. Equally as important, she was a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Mittal will discuss the role of AIU and delivering the NEP, she will discuss building frameworks that help members have the tools to build positive partnerships across the globe, and she will provide some examples and opportunities. After that, Dr. Shashank Shah, I’m sorry, no, I’m sorry. We’ll go to Dr. Somak Roychaudhury.

Dr. Roychaudhury is the Vice Chancellor of Ashoka University and previously the director of the Inter University Center of astronomy and astrophysics. He’s going to draw on his expertise from these two very different types of institutions, and he will explore the NEP model for the modern university in India, what that looks like and how internationalisation can contribute. He will also discuss what it means when we talk with partnerships in the university context and the role of research at every level. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Roychaudhury.  

And our final speaker this morning will be Dr. Shashank Shah, who is the director and senior specialist higher education at NITI Aayog. He’s an international researcher, public policy specialist and best selling author with three highly acclaimed management books. Dr. Shashank Shah will discuss the role of NITI Aayog and taking the ideas of the NEP and examining them through the lens of evidence based policymaking looking at internationalisation as an enabler and driver of change. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Shah. With that, I will hand over the mic to Dr. Varghese, you’d like to take this, please 

Dr. Varghese over to you.

Prof. N V Varghese

Thank you. Thank you, Adam, and very good morning to all of you. Once again, it’s a great opportunity for me to stand before you to present some of the viewpoints about the National Education Policy. 

Friends, what I’ll try to do in the next 10 minutes, is to just capture some of the change in the context of higher education globally and in India, so that I can place the National Education Policy in a proper context, then I will talk about it, then I will come to some of the salient features of National Education Policy, I’ll end with the some of the difficulties in implementation of the some of the proposals contained in the policy. That is what I will try to do. 

Friends, one of the important changes that we find in the 20th century and 21st century is that people live longer. Another dimension of this living longer is that people are spending more time in educational institutions, not because they are failing, but because they are extending their education to higher levels, this is an important dimension. But the basic difference between the 20th century and 21st century is that while public education and public funding defined the contours of education provision of education through the century, it is a market mediated process of educational development, that is defining the progress that is taking place in education in the 21st century. This is true globally. 

And this is also true in India. And therefore, there is a difference in the context in which we are trying to see that because when we talk about educational reforms in any country, it is important to see that most of the education reforms are redefinition of aligning education with the other sectors of the economy. That is also another important dimension that you find in this new education policy. So while the state is responsible for policy, but the progress of education, development of education is not decided and dictated and determined by the state today, that makes a substantial difference in terms of the policy. 

Any policy is an aspiration, aspiration for the future. And everybody is part of that. And therefore, I feel that the new education policy 2020 also reflects an aspiration of Indian people, an aspiration to higher levels of education and also an aspiration to play a more global, important global role in education in the world. These are the two dimensions. When I look into the education policy between 1968 86 and 2020 education policy, the change that I find one element that I want to pick up, I’ll take three or four elements only of the new education policy, which is changing the nature and structure and the directions of change in higher education. 

One is that we are talking about an expanding system. In 1968 policy and 86 policy, what you find is that the unwritten rule seems to be that universalisation of primary education and generalisation, secondary education, expansion of Secondary Education and consolidation of higher education, has felt that unemployment is increasing and you get an ongoing increase because higher education is expanding. So in 1986, Pelosi said that you please deal with degrees from jobs because that is the reason why people are demanding higher education. And this policy is dramatically opposite to that. That is one of the important changes that one has to notice. 

This policy talks about the expansion of higher education. So therefore, let me say that one of the important dimensions of this new education policy is expansion of the system from massification to universalisation. In the world, globally, you will find that most of the OECD countries are universalised to higher education, most of the middle income countries and upper middle income countries have massified higher education and most of the least developed countries in the world, especially in Africa, and some of the countries in Asia, they are still in a state of limited expansion with a single digit GER, you know, so that is the way that higher education system is expanding in the world. 

Now, if you come to India, India had a system of higher education, which was slow growing and low GER, in the first 250 years of its independence plan to develop, and especially, we had 8.4 million students in the schools in the universities and the colleges and 8.1 GER here. But suddenly, what you find is the next 20 years, not 50 years, the next 20 years, what we find is that the GER increased more than three and a half times, and enrolment has gone up more than 4.5. Now, today into 2021/22, we have an enrolment of 14 million students. And what is also equally important is that this is also the context in which we see that many of the developing and developed countries, OECD countries, there is a decline in higher education or a stagnation that is taking place, if you take some of the most advanced economies like Japan, or South Korea, or if you take even Russian Federation or the USA, we are finding a stagnating higher education already declining higher education enrolment, but that is not the case. 

If you look at the expansion that is taking place in higher education, India, China together account for 40% of the new enrolments in higher education globally, this is a very important dimension. And what is also equally important is that the rate of growth is increasing in these countries and acquiring more shares. I should say that not greater growth, the number of students joining the system, not the rate of growth is increasing in these places. So one important dimension of higher education and new education policy is how do we move from universal massification of higher education to universalisation of higher education. Universalisation is defined in terms of 50% of GER, unlike in primary education, where it is 100% in here, so there’s a difference that is taking place. And this is a very positive change. The second question is that Indian development of higher education in India has seen that mostly the status given way to the private sector and also to market. So it’s a market mediated system that is in existence. So that’s in operation in India. So how the system is going to develop how the system is evolved. My feeling is that the state is taking a backseat in terms of provisions, and it is the private sector and the market oriented sector, which is coming up in a big way. 

Today, 75% of the institutions and more than 66% of the students are in the private institutions both aided and unaided sector. So therefore, you find that the future of higher education in India is not through the public sector, not through the public funding. But despite the public funding, and despite the government, this will be going up. This has a lot of implications for the regulatory system that you’re talking about, which will come to me later. 

The second dimension of which of NEP, which is very important,I feel is that institutional consolidation, we talk about the NEP talk about a system whereby each institution should be at least 3000 students, but this is a very large expectation, because today only 4% of the higher education institutions in this country have an enrolment of more than 3000 Another 4% will be having an enrolment of between 2000/3000 That means 92% of the higher education institutions in this country has less than 2000 enrolment, that we’re making them the whole system or institutions 3000 which also means institutional consolidation, the single discipline institutions will be disappearing and multidisciplinary institutions will be coming up, but it also has a lot of implications for consolidation, institutional consolidation, that is the second dimension of this in the 10 minutes, I cannot elaborate further. 

So, let me go to the third dimension, which is very important is the flexible pathways for higher learning. That means today you can have a three year undergraduate degree, you can have four year undergraduate degree, you can have one year master’s degree, you’re going to have two years master’s degree, and if you want to go from undergraduate studies directly to doctoral studies, you have also had that option. So, there is a flexibility that is incorporated in the system, which is really different from the system that we had earlier for the system that you are having now, it also has implications for credit transfer facilities that are available and a student can walk to four different courses within the same university or in different university or from a foreign university that is possible. This is the third dimension that I feel is very important. 

The fourth dimension that I would like to touch upon in terms of the governance and management structure, we had 15 or 16 or 17 regulatory bodies in India. We are trying to see that there is a consolidation that is taking place in terms of the governance and management system and we will be having one Higher Education Commission of India that is in the process and I do not know when it will be declared. So, we expect that this will be declared sooner. This is an important dimension that is taking place and there will be four verticals. And we are also separating financing issues from quality issues and quality assurance. We’ll be taking a different dimension instead of having your NAC located in Bangalore. Now, there are several institutions that will be responsible for accrediting institutions and there will be a National Accreditation Council at the national level. 

You don’t have to be located in Delhi. At the national level, we should be accrediting the institutions that will be perhaps more like the CTA Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the United States, which is accrediting around 45 to 46, targeted institutions within the USA. So that is an important dimension that needs to be taken into account. The last point that I will touch upon is internationalisation. The 1968 policy and ADCs policy did not talk about internationalisation, did not talk about any of these dimensions and today we are talking about internationalisation. This has two dimensions. One nice internationalisation adds to home because 99% of Indian students do not go abroad for study. So therefore more important if you talk about sensibly about internationalisation, we should talk about changing curriculums and internationalise the curriculum in India, the 1%, which is going out 44% to 45% of the students are going to the United States, UK, followed by UK, Australia, and now Canada, these are the places where the students are going. 

So what are the arrangements for the facilitating that process previously, they’re dependent upon the fellowships to go abroad, but today, it is a household the burden of going abroad and studying abroad is shifted systematically to the household even studying in India, the burden is shifted systematically to the people into the households or in the public sector to the Indian situation. And so, that is one then we have joined degrees, twinning arrangements, and dual degrees. And you also have double degrees, dual degrees that you can talk about even though there are different dimensions. 

Let me take half a minute, to just talk about the implementation. Implementation is a big challenge. And when you’re talking about an education policy, when you are getting only after 36/34 years,the 21 years in India, after independence, we did not have an education policy, then we had an education policy in 1968. After 19 years, or 18 years, we got another education policy in 1986, then after 34 years, we are getting this policy. So implementation of the policy, it’s a vision, it’s not a target, it is not an objective like that. It’s a vision. So it will take a long period of time to unravel itself in terms of implementation. 

But let me say that India was very fast in implementing one thing, it changed the name of the ministry from Ministry of Human Resource Development to Ministry of Education, if I’m not wrong, it simultaneously happened when the policy was released on the same day or next day. So, there are certain things that are very easy to implement. But when I talk about multidisciplinary institutions, when I talk about financial institution consolidation etc, it becomes very important, very important and very difficult and challenging, but there are positive signs that committees are set up commissions are set up expert groups are set up and work is going on like anything.

Let me end by saying that the future directions of development in higher education in India in the context of new education policy will depend on one ABC Academy bank of credits out of the function of the higher education qualification framework. And I think the discussion document or these already produced by UGC, then how we are going to align ourselves with the collaborate ourselves with the international institutions, either bringing institutions to India or collaborating with through different modes, these three elements will decide the direction of change in higher education, which will be a market mediated development of higher education where we have to redefine the role of state in Higher Education Development. Thank you.

Adam Grotsky

Thank you so much, Dr. Varghese, we will save all the questions for the end. So please, if you have questions, please jot them down. I really appreciate that concise summary of NEP for today’s audience, and I’m sure for those international travellers that have come here. It was extremely helpful to get that overview. I’m going to ask the other members of this panel to stay seated because we’re having some problem hearing from that mic. And I think that we’ll be better off using these mics here. We might get the sound here on the stage. So with that, I’ll hand over to Pankaj Mittal for her remarks. Pankaj, over to you.

Dr.Pankaj Mittal

Thank you, Adam. And thanks for the generous introduction and thanks to Sannam S4 and Acumen for inviting us here. I’ve been asked to tell you about the initiatives taken by the Association of Indian Universities to promote the National Education Policy 2020. Many of you will know that the Association of Indian Universities is the largest association of universities in the world with a membership of 940 universities. It is the second oldest and was established in 1925. So we are completing 98 years. And we are engaging with the universities in multiple ways. We engage with the students in terms of holding money, sports events, cultural events, even research projects so that we can catch them young for the research. We engage with the Teachers and we engage with the Vice Chancellors. So when this National Education Policy was released on July 29 of 2020, the first thing we did was that the six Vice Chancellors conferences we hold every year, all of them were devoted to various aspects of National Education Policy. And the full year we spent on discussing creating awareness about the National Education Policy during 2021. 

And in the end, we came out with a report in the terms of what is for each of the recommendations of the NEP? What is the recommendation? Who is responsible for implementing that recommendation? What do they have to do to implement that recommendation? And what are the timelines? So that report is available on the website. And that was very well appreciated by the university sector, because in very clear terms, it told who has to do what to implement anybody, because you all know that we do produce very good documents, but implementation is really a challenge in most of the types. 

Then we saw the recommendations of the NEP and slowly slowly, like, for example, we realise that internationalisation of higher education is something which has been given a lot of impetus in higher education. For the first time, actually, a National Education Policy has given so much importance for an internationalisation of higher education. So we took it upon ourselves that we should help our universities to promote internationalisation. So we created a network called Indian Network of International Higher Education, you can go to our website, you will find it and it is the Indian Network of International Higher Education. 

The aim was, that India is a large country, it is a diverse country, we have 1100 universities and 40,000 colleges. And of these 1100 universities, only a few, something like say, no more than 50 will be very good in internationalisation. And the number of international students who are coming to India is around 48,000 as against about 1 million who are going out of India every year for studying abroad. So we want to sort of balance the situation. So this Indian Network of International Higher Education was created to help those universities who have the intention to do internationalisation but they don’t know how to do it, how to go about it, whom to contact, how to do partnerships, how to have exchange relationships with foreign universities, which university to contact in which area. 

So this Indian Network of International Higher Education, which in short, we call it here, was set up by EIU to promote internationalisation. And we’re doing this through many many events. For example, last week, we did an event on how to establish an international students office. So this was last year if speaker was there from USA and one was from India, and rather to three months back, we did a event at the Australian High Commission also where we told the university how to open an international students office, what the activities should be, how big it should be, what should be the purpose and how it should be operationalised. Similarly, we are doing many many events in partnerships between the universities we are having. The MOU is with many associations, for example we have a MOU with NUS which is the Mexican Universities Association. We have a MOU with universities in Australia, we have a MOU with universities in the UK. So we are having many MOU’s to help the universities in forging partnerships. 

Second thing for internationalisation which we did was we made a new collaboration portal. So any foreign university which wants to come to India, they are not able to know that in a specific area which university is good. For example, if you want to know in nuclear physics, which university in India is good, you will be having an accurate NIRF ranking,India ranking, but for a particular subject you will not be able to know. So, what we have done at AIU is we have made the AIU collaboration portal in which Indian universities are adding for the university that what they are good at where they want to collaborate, what the facilities are, what their faculty strengths are, what research stands in that particular area. So now, any foreign university or Indian university writes in the collaboration portal that I want to collaborate in nuclear physics, down comes a list of Indian universities who are good at it and who want to collaborate. 

So, it became an easier thing to do. It was AIU that vested the power of equivalence of foreign degrees with the Indian degrees. So, we made it simpler by shifting from sort of a duration approach to the credit approach. The credits are matching. We are giving the equivalence of foreign degrees to the Indian degrees. That is encouraging more and more Indian students to go abroad and then come back. For that we are right now doing a credit mapping exercise and the government of India has also signed some MOU’s for example, they have signed an MOU with government of the UK for one year master’s degree program earlier it was not given equivalents in India now, it is given equivalents in India. We have recently signed the government of India has recently filed signed an MOU with government of Australia for mutual recognition of qualifications. 

Slowly, slowly we are making it easier. So, that was in terms of internationalisation of higher education. For example, the National Education Policy says that the technology should be used to a large extent in teaching, learning and assessment and evaluation, but how to do it, what should be done about it? How to do the capacity building of the teachers to use the technology? That is what AIU is doing.

AIU opened 10 centres in different universities last year and we’ll open10 more this year. And those 10 centres will be running courses specifically on this aspect of how to use technology for the governance of the universities for teaching and learning of the universities for the assessment and evaluation of the students. So these are the types of activities that we are doing. Similarly again, the NEP has given a lot of emphasis on NAC rating and IRF ranking on implementation of SDG goals on implementation of NAC. So we are also remaking a consultancy arrangement. So we have just started enrolling the consultants. Anyone who wants to enrol as a consultant with the EU, you can on the AIU website. Within that consultancy portal, we have a sort of a matchmaking, the universities tell us that they want consultants in this area, that area could be internationalisation. That area could be university industry interaction. That area could be any SDG implementation University society collaboration, any area or IRF ranking or NAC. So in those areas, we are doing matchmaking between the consultants and the universities. So that is helping the universities also to undertake these jobs in a much easier manner and very authentic consultancies available to them. 

We are taking many, many actions to implement the NEP, starting from capacity building to creating awareness to actually doing many, many things for the universities. So I hope that the NEP will be implemented soon. And it will be implemented in letter and spirit. And we do know that implementation of NEP will take Indian higher education to much, much higher strides in future. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Adam Grotsky

Thank you so much for those remarks. I think it’s just fantastic to hear about this network of international institutions of international higher education. I’ve often said that, in the US, I had benefited from very, very early in my career through the professional development of organisations like NAFSA, the Forum on Education Abroad and others. And I think it’s great that AIU is taking the lead to link up institutions, and work on professional development, especially for these new and up and coming international offices. I think it’ll be one of the keys to success for overall internationalisation of higher education here in India. So it’s wonderful that that’s happening. Thank you so much. We’ll now move on to Dr.Shashank Shah, and get a little bit more into the weeds of National Education Policy and what it looks like for a modern Indian University, what it looks like at his institution, his previous institution, and as I mentioned earlier, he’ll talk a little bit more of the role of research in internationalisation at every level at his institution over to you.

Dr. Roychaudhury

Thank you very much. And thank you very much for coming to this. I’m very happy to be here. Good morning. I represent Ashoka University, which is a new university. It’s about 10 years old and not far from here. an hour and a half from Delhi. It started off as a liberal arts college, where we have about 3000 students, mostly undergraduates who started off in a liberal arts programme. We’ve already implemented the four year programme of the National Education Policy, where the first year is a blended year, where everybody attending the same takes courses from the same kind of cohort of courses, which are general. And they don’t declare a major till the third semester. And so everybody gets a kind of a basic liberal education, which now of course, envelopes a lot of the STEM subjects. And starting off with humanities and social sciences. 

Now, the core sciences have come in physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, things like that. So everybody gets a taste of basic not just subjects, but also courses like critical thinking courses like reading and writing skills based courses. This is very much the crux of the NEP. And I’m very happy to say that, in the 10 years this course has been built up, this approach to undergraduate education has been around in the world and so the liberal arts colleges of the United States. For example, and now globally, in many other institutions have followed such an approach of general education to begin with, and then specialising in various disciplines now, in the NEP, such a blended mode and interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach to education is very much encouraged. 

This also lends itself very well to the flexibility that the NEP gives you, in terms of the student coming in and going out of various institutions, transferring their credits and transferring in between various disciplines to learn skills from various disciplines. Now, this lends itself very well to globalisation, because since credits can be transferred, one can attend courses abroad from India, and welcome international students into the Indian system. 

At Ashoka, we have students from 21 countries, we have an equivalent number of countries represented in our faculty, and this is increasing as the university is going to increase in size in the next five years. And this kind of model of the modern Indian university starts off on a platform that’s very, very global. Now in undergraduate pedagogy, because we encourage as broad a canvas as possible in terms of education, it allows exchange between universities abroad, very, very easily. And then what we’re looking at, in a global model of undergraduate teaching, we’re looking at semesters abroad, years abroad, for students in India going to universities all over the world. Of course, students from other universities, in other countries coming and spending such times in India and in this broadening view of education, higher education in India, that’s that’s very much possible. 

And we’re trying to find a model that works of course, the funding model would be a very important thing to work out between the universities as will be the standardisation of the levels of education, which means that universities working with each other will have to work on whether their their standards are maintained as students go across these borders, but what I want to also say is that the National Education Policy has made this globalisation possible by another route and that is encouraging universities in India to be research active, as you know, in the in the traditional form of the Indian university research has not played a very important role in Indian universities have traditionally been teaching universities where there is research that happens in particularly in STEM subjects and certainly in many other subjects in research institutes, specialised institutes in India. 

Over the last few decades, the wall between teaching and research has started to break down. And what the NEP does is put us on very firm ground and requires the typical university to bring in research as one of the main main things that the faculty do. Now, this makes globalisation very, very, very easy because in research, there is already a global model of how academics interact with each other across countries across borders. I can say that from my previous experience of the last seven years, I’ve been the Director of the entire university centre of astronomy and astrophysics the premier research institute in astrophysics in India, and from the perspective of a research institute, and this is an institute that’s run by the UGC, so it’s a government Institute. 

From that perspective, I can say that the research community in India has always worked with the rest of the world in that role. I had a leading role in establishing the Gravitational Wave Observatory LIGO in India, in collaboration with the US and 47 other countries. And as you know, last week, the Indian government actually approved the establishment of this major scientific facility in India. Similarly, working across the board with four other countries establishing one of the largest telescopes in the world in Hawaii, where India would be a 10% partner along with the US, Canada, and Japan, and putting this telescope in Hawaii.  This kind of collaboration has always been there. People talk about science diplomacy, where even in the era of global mistrust of each other, in, in the Cold War era, things like that people across scientists across the world, researchers across the world, in countries that were formally in conflict with each other, were working with each other for academic purposes. 

So, in the research collaborations that happen across the world, the basis of such collaborations is an exchange of skills in typical papers that come out in my field of research. One has 1000 drafts maybe now, why do I want to add the 1001 author to that paper? I look for a skill and I find that skill is missing amongst the the group that works in that area, and I add somebody with a certain skill and I think if that provides a model of international collaboration in education in general, where as the faculty become research active in Indian universities, they start collaborating with with researchers in in their fields across the world, in other universities. If that provides a model of their teaching, undergraduate teaching and postgraduate teaching, and student exchange, it will focus on issues to focus on skills and to show us how one can work out a working model of collaboration between universities, in terms of global education. 

I think research and teaching are both going to be primary activities of university teachers. And sorry, undergraduate, and undergraduate students will have to do more and more research in the NEP enabled Indian University. One, we’ll see how the, the collaborations between the universities and the way students and faculty are exchanged between universities to work on these collaborations will work out so the collaborations between universities the globalisation of the Indian universities under the NEP will not only concentrate on sending students for a semester abroad or welcoming foreign students to Indian universities for a year in as part of their studies, but also taking part in global research projects, global projects of importance of of international importance. 

Interdisciplinary programs in which students from different disciplines come together at a particular university to work on a particular problem that is important for the world at large. And this is where I think the model that the national education policy is pointing us towards is going to be very, very effective in placing India amongst the academic environment of the world. Thank you.

Adam Grotsky

Thank you so much. From my perspective, I couldn’t agree more. We’ve seen, as I mentioned earlier in my opening remarks, just how important programs like the Fulbright NAIRU program have been bringing researchers to India, sending researchers from India to the United States, and often sparking these sustainable collaborations and partnerships between institutions. So thank you very much for those comments. We will now wrap up with Dr. Shah from , he will be giving a little bit again a little bit of perspective, from NITI Aayog in taking the ideas of any PII and examining them through the lens of evidence based policymaking. We’ll also be discussing some student mobility and scholar mobility data as well. Over to you Dr. Shah

Dr. Shashank Shah

Thank you after some very interesting insights on the National Education Policy from a macro perspective, and ecosystemic insights from Dr. Mittal and Dr.Raychaudhury, the AIU and the Ashoka University, I think it’s a good time to talk about numbers and how that influences the space of India internationalisation of higher education and global education. So as Shri Bharat Lal mentioned, in the inaugural address today, just yesterday, all the newspapers were filled with headlines on India becoming the most populous nation in the world, with nearly 1.4-3 billion human beings. And this is likely to be going up all the way to 1.6-5 billion by 2050. As the UN PF estimates suggest, and in this number, about 50% are below the age of 25. And nearly 70% are in the working age group of 15 to 64. This means that nearly 900 million people will be in the working age group in India, between now all the way through 2070. For half a century, 900 million people are going to be in the working age group for India. 

It’s a good time also to look at the evolution of the Indian higher education system again, in terms of numbers. Evidence call based policymaking is the mandate for the government of India’s premier Think Tank, if you look back at 1950, we had 20 universities with 200,000 students and a 2% Gross enrolment ratio. Fast forward to 2022. We have about 1200 universities, 14 million students and a gross enrolment ratio of 27% as envisaged in the National Education Policy by 2035. This number would double to 50% of gross enrolment ratio, which means there would be 80 million students in the Indian higher education system, which is equivalent to the entire population of Germany. 

If one were to look at today’s numbers of 40 million students in the higher education system, over the next quarter century, nearly a billion students would be passing through the portals of Indian higher education institutions, whether it’s a certificate programme or a diploma or a graduation, or post graduation or a doctoral degree or a postdoctoral degree. That is the quantum or the size of the Indian higher education system in the NAC next quarter century, making it the largest higher education system in the world, with probably the maximum number of students passing through its portals. 

It’s also important to note the number of students from this that are exposed to international education. As per the Ministry of External Affairs estimates in 2022. It was about a million students the Bureau of Immigration had suggested about million students who are pursuing higher education overseas. This is about 2.5% of students who have access to international education. 97.5% of students do not have access to international education. And hence it’s very important to target this demographic as much as we target those who would like to explore different higher education options overseas. In an interconnected world, where there are no boundaries, we have globalisation as the mantra. Internationalisation is no longer a luxury, it is no longer discretionary, it is necessary, it is an imperative. 

In the Indian context, embracing ideas from different parts of the world has always been our focus. This was the same message that Mahatma Gandhi had given when he said that I want cultures of all land to come about my home, though I refuse to be swept away from my feet by any of them. So it was the best of all coming together and integrating with what we have to offer. That has been the mantra for several centuries. 

I’d like to draw your attention to how the ancient Indian higher education system attracted students from across countries in the Indian Ocean rim area. We had about 10,000 students in Nalanda University several millennia ago with over 2000 teachers teaching. And similarly the examples of Takshashila are Vikram Silla or Odin to Puri, or Jain or Kashi. So there have been examples of internationalisation of higher education, India centric internationalisation of higher education that has happened over several centuries. 

In the context of India, it is not the revenue of the commercial part of internationalisation, but the ability to provide the domestic students with cutting edge insights, which help them to be world ready, which is a very important part of the objective of the National Education Policy 2020. Before I conclude, let me provide you with some numbers of the context of India and the global internationalisation paradigm. 

According to the data published by UNESCO in 2019, the top five countries hosting nearly 42% of the world’s international students for tertiary education are the US, UK, Australia, Germany, and Russia. And the top five countries from which international students were coming into these countries were China, India, Germany, South Korea, and Vietnam. With respect to India, the countries to which Indian students the million odd Indian students that are going for international higher education opportunities are the US, Canada, UAE, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. In these countries, the MBA adjacent courses and business degrees were the most popular subjects amongst undergraduate students, followed by engineering and other STEM subjects. 

Looking at the other way around in terms of students coming into India. Over the last several years, the number has been hovering around 48 to 50,000. We’ve just increased it by about 10,000 In the last 10 years, the major top four countries in 2022 As per the all India survey of higher education, students coming into India, from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and USA, nearly 45% of the incoming students were from Saarc countries and 80% of these international students coming into India, were primarily interested in 16 kinds of courses, of which 20% Were interested in BTec and to talk about the opportunity of studying in India for the BTec programme, there is a number which I would like to share the average annual fee for international students at the top IITs is US dollar 315 whereas the annual average salary for the top IITs is about 26,000 US dollars. 

So, the average annual return on education investment for international students in India is 82 times the kind of investment they make. That is the kind of affordability of education that India provides in its top most institutions. If one were to look at the top states which have attracted international students in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. With Karnataka accounting for 20% of all students coming into India from other countries. It’s a case study worth exploring as to how over a decade, Karnataka has consistently been able to attract the maximum number of international students into their state, especially when education is on the concurrent list by both the state and the central governments make policies. I’ll conclude by highlighting three areas where I think internationalisation in India should be focusing.

First is of course research, which has been elaborated in substantial detail. I’d like to draw your attention to the recent Financial Times articles in the UK, which said that every pound invested by Cambridge University created a value of 11 pounds for the UK economy. That is the power of higher education institutions to positively impact the economy of their respective countries. And research plays a phenomenal role in this regard. So the kind of research that Indian institutions pursue, as was wonderfully highlighted, whether through collaborations or through taking up areas that enable India to further its objective of self-reliance, as has been often mentioned by the government of India is very vital. And this could be facilitated through faculty and student exchange. The government of India through its budget schemes, or encourage you to look them up, has undertaken a lot of initiatives and efforts to encourage international researchers and faculty, especially alumni, or people of Indian origin, to engage with Indian higher education institutions. 

The second area is infrastructure, social infrastructure and physical infrastructure. If one were to attract the best international students into India would have to have pedagogical methods and curricula that are of international standards, and international relevance for which the exposure of the faculty and the administration to the way international higher education is delivered, is vital. 

The last of the points I’d like to mention is about opportunities for employment in India, post higher education, which is an emerging area in India, especially given that employment and job creation are vital areas of priority for India, for the Indian students themselves. So with this broad overview, I’d like to leave you and suggest that the kind of approach or paradigm, which we need to follow in India is internationalisation both overseas and India centric International. Thank you.

Adam Grotsky

Thank you so much, Dr. Shah. That was fantastic. You touched on a lot there. But I can’t help but comment on the second of your last three points being the importance of providing an infrastructure here that is attractive to international students and scholars, I think that’s going to be extremely important. 

As you pointed out, there’s no lack of students and scholars looking outside of India, for opportunities for research for postdocs for studies. But to create that infrastructure here and make India that attractive place, there’s a lot of work that does need to be done. There’s great work being done at some institutions, largely private in some of the other elite public institutions. But that is an area we see a lot of American universities, I speak from the US perspective, a lot of US universities that do come in expressed an interest in sending their students to India for what we refer to as short term study abroad programs. As of right now, the pickings are a little bit slim. We really hope that through the National Education Policy more and more opportunities across diverse regions outside of the major metros become available for international students here as well. 

Thank you so much for joining us. Please join me in thanking the panel. The opening panel of the summit.

About the Acumen Global Gateway Summit: India

The Acumen Global Gateway Summit, held at the renowned JW Marriott hotel in New Delhi, marked a milestone in the Acumen@15 celebrationsThis exclusive invite-only event brought together the Acumen Global Team, distinguished guests, government officials, and experts. Client partners convened to discuss international higher education, exchange innovative ideas, and shape a vision for expanding access to higher education. The summit fostered collaboration, inspiration, and knowledge dissemination among higher education professionals. With its unique setting and thoughtful discussions, the event offered an exceptional platform for networking and setting the course for a future of inclusive and transformative higher education.

Missed the Acumen Global Gateway Summit 2023? Discover what’s in store for 2024»