Universities of Future: Comprehensive internationalisation is as important as adopting to new technology
Varanasi: Dr. Anoop Swarup, Vice Chancellor Jagran Lakecity University (JLU), is of the firm view that to be “future ready” India needs a National Technology Plan for Higher Education.
Swarup said that at universities, we have to urgently think in terms of the larger global educational ecosystem, and adopting best practices, forecasting the emergence and impact of new technologies, and quickly adapting to the rapid changes taking place in the learning environment.
Dr Swarup was addressing here the 92nd Annual General Meet of Association of Indian Universities hosted by the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was present on this occasion.
At the outset, delivering a presentation on “Higher Education in the Era of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Disruptive Technology with Focus on Human Values in the Age of Disruption”, Swarup drew attention towards the emerging scenario and the dynamic horizon of higher education with a special focus on the “Universities of Future” in times of VUCA, a popular acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity for developing transformational and sustainable models of student centric, industry aligned, data driven and scalable mantras for personalised higher education.
He illustrated the theme by a Japanese painting showing Mount Fuji dwarfed by a huge wave of the ocean dotted with tiny figures of people riding fragile boats appearing absolutely powerless to influence the course of events.
In this Age of Innovation, quintessential and timeless human values are being challenged in an age of disruption on the anvil of emerging technologies and innovation, Swarup observed adding “Universities today confront radical change that requires bold innovation”.
Knowledge coupled with creativity and innovation is the most powerful currency that Universities create and contribute to society and the humankind and define higher education’s purpose, as we address problems that have no borders in an increasingly flat world, Swarup said.
Mr. Swarup cited UNESCO figures to point out that in 2017, the number of students who travelled abroad in pursuit of higher education was 5 million, while international students abroad have been increasing by roughly 12 percent each year in the 21st Century. These figures notwithstanding, he went on to reveal that while international research collaborations have flourished, more than three-quarters of scientific articles published in journals were the product of at least two institutions, and one in three articles was authored by a global team.
Zooming on to India vis-a-vis the entire globe, Swarup said that a significant driver for educational change is population growth and the demographic profile of India. More than 50% of India’s population is under the age of 25 and by 2020, India will have one of the youngest populations in the world, with an average age of 29 years, and India will outpace China in the next ten years as the country with the largest tertiary-age in 2020. The OECD predicts that in 2020, 200 million of the world’s 25-34 year olds will be university graduates and 40% of these will be from China and India representing a huge proportion of the global talent pool, Swarup told the gathering.
Swarup referred to the 2008 World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE), organised by UNESCO in Paris on theme of The New Dynamics of Higher Education and Research for Societal Change and Development, and described it as a watershed as it came up with the World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century: Vision and Action, 9 October 1998. Since then there has been a paradigm shift in Higher Education with the digital revolution sweeping the higher education landscape across the globe, he added.
Swarup said that the evolution and internationalisation of the curriculum and the teaching and learning process has become as relevant as the traditional focus on mobility. Perhaps everything has changed over the past decade with regard to the internationalisation of higher education, and that this change is primarily from a more cooperative model to a more competitive model.
It was emphaised by Swarup that the principles of good values across cultures focuses on students as learners, respect and adjust for diversity, provide context-specific information and support, facilitate meaningful intercultural dialogue and engagement. It is important t, be adaptable, flexible and responsive to scientific evidence, prepare students for life in a globalised world. According to him, value driven approach seeks to capture core ideas from the published research. It is also important to be specific enough to guide teachers in their practice and be flexible enough to accommodate the variety of different learning and teaching contexts within which teachers and learners work.