Indian higher education is on the cusp of transformation, facilitated by the National Education Policy of 2020.
The policy laid down a vision for comprehensive reform of education, and so now is a great time for universities in India and around the Commonwealth to build sustainable relationships with one another.
The areas influenced by the policy include research and education, capacity building, and student and staff mobility, and our ACU India Roundtables offered the opportunity for guests to network and share their expertise on these key themes in Indian higher education.
The events, hosted by ACU members, also enabled universities to identify and develop new cross-border partnerships with one another.
We were joined by more than 200 staff from 46 universities in India, Australia, Bangladesh, Fiji and the UK over the course of the three events - including vice-chancellors and senior academics.
We also welcomed staff from prominent organisations working in the higher education sector including the University Grants Commission, the Association of Indian Universities, AusTrade and the British Council, among others.
Discussion themes and highlights
Each event, hosted by a different ACU member, focused on a particular theme of strategic importance in Indian higher education.
Read on for key findings from each event:
Student exchange and mobility
(Hosted by Christ (Deemed-to-be University) in Bengaluru)
- International student mobility leads to cross-subject, cross-cultural learning.
- Student exchange opportunities equip students with valuable skills for the world of work.
- Widening participation is a key consideration for student mobility, and universities should work with governments and industry to provide different types of exchange opportunities to a wider range of students (for example, short-term courses and internships).
- Credit recognition mechanisms would help with wider recognition of international mobility programmes.
- The ACU’s contribution in this area includes our wide range of grants and fellowships, scholarships and programmes such as the ACU Summer School and the Commonwealth Virtual Exchange.
Equitable and sustainable partnerships
(Hosted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai)
- Equitable partnerships are crucial in building sustainable relationships between academics and institutions, particularly between universities in the global north and south.
- India’s National Education Policy 2020 has created opportunities for collaboration between India and other Commonwealth countries, particularly in research and credit recognition.
- University networks play an important role in creating sustainable partnerships, for example the ACU's Equitable Partnerships Toolkit.
Roundtable attendees at Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Digitalisation and the future of work in the global economy
(Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR [in collaboration with Association of Indian Universities])
- India's higher education system is being strengthened through the power of new digital technologies. These can improve access to learning and education provision through teacher development (demonstrated by the ACU’s Partnership for Enhanced and Blended Learning projects in Africa).
- Industry-academia collaboration is important in building capacity and producing employable graduates. For example, internships can immerse students in tackling "real-world" problems.
- Universities will play a crucial role in helping communities embrace the challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies, as well as blending artificial intelligence with natural intelligence.
Professor Sabu Padmadas, Founding Director, India Centre for Inclusive Growth at University of Southampton, said: “The ACU-AIU-AUUP Roundtable featured excellent discussions and deliberations. I learnt a lot from senior colleagues who brought excellence, experience, and wisdom to the table.”
Professor Shalini Bharat, VC, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said: “The ACU acts as a catalyst to bring universities together across the Commonwealth. As universities, we then need to bring good practices together to ensure equitable and sustainable partnerships.
Attendees at ACU-AIU-AUUP Roundtable at Amity University