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Raise the Bar of Indian Education

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Create international consciousness in students, says Philip G Altbach, research professor and founding director, Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, US.

With education turning a new leaf globally, it is high time Indian academia improved standards and created an international consciousness in students, said Philip G Altbach, research professor and founding director, Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, US, during a recent visit to India. “Indian higher education stands at the crossroads of quality and widening expanse of education. The challenge before the country is to raise the bar without letting its quality get diluted.”

Altbach was in Pune to speak at a conference on ‘The Changing Landscape of Internationalisation of Higher Education’ organised by the Association of Indian Universities and Symbiosis International University.

About global education, he suggested, each country needs to learn from what is happening elsewhere. Mobility of students and faculty is at the heart of global education. Internationalisation at home is important, said Altbach. According to him, India should look at countries such as China and many European nations that have come a long way bettering their educational standards.

He spoke about the role of research facilities as well. “India is a world-class country but needs world-class education. It’s important to develop globally competitive higher education institutes so that they can employ good researchers in a cutting-edge environment.”

He pointed out how Indian students excelled across the globe and proved their mettle. Though there is no direct link between a strong economy and a better education system, a powerful education can stop the flight of talent to a large extent. A better education system would not only give Indians better opportunities at home but also do justice to them in terms of better career options and pay packages.

“It won’t be an understatement if we say Indians are obsessed with education. In the US, if you look at the representation of different ethnic groups in higher education, the group which has greater access is that of Indian-Americans. It has served them well because Indian-Americans have higher academic and professional achievement rates and higher average salaries than average Americans,” he noted.

Talking about his research, he stressed on the need to have good community colleges, focused universities, good vocational institutes and other training schools, globally. “We are looking at how countries are coping with that. Another area of focus is academic salaries. We carried out research on salaries and teaching methodology in 28 countries. We were a bit surprised to find that India is doing better than China and Russia on those counts.”

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