A warning from Harvard: India paying inadequate attention to improving university education

Give public and private universities flexibility and independence to attract best teaching talent, says Harvard’s Summers

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Geetanjali Minhas | December 10, 2015 | Mumbai



Harvard University’s president emeritus Lawrence Summers has made a strong appeal to the government to introduce reforms in university system to meet the aspirations of large and aspiring young population.

"The prosperity of a nation lies in the success of their universities and providing these opportunities determines the talent of a nation. Universities are crucial sources of prosperity," he said yesterday. Summers was delivering a talk on Reinventing The University: Reconciling Equity and Excellence in Higher Education Worldwide organised by the Observer Research Foundation and Mumbai University and attended by students, academia and experts.

Sharing secrets that lead to success in higher education he said good curriculum, motivating faculty and a wise administration are all foundations of education institutions. Speaking on the importance of teachers to set the fire of creativity and curiosity among young students, Summers cautioned that India is paying inadequate attention to improving its university education system and this could limit its potential to achieve high growth and inclusive development on a sustainable basis.
 
 He said the government should permit private universities and give both public and private universities flexibility to attract best teaching talent.

"India should aim to have at least a third of its young population to avail good-quality higher education by 2030. It should aim to have at least five universities to earn a ranking among the 100 top universities in the world and also aim to attract at least 10,000 American students to come and study in Indian universities" Summers said.

Asking India to grant complete autonomy to universities, create a vibrant academic culture, and encourage competition among universities to achieve higher standards of excellence he added that in the United States, no Governor or legislator can interfere in any way with the functioning of universities.

The  former director of the National Economic Council for President Obama said that Jawaharlal Nehru was an extraordinary political leader, and without knowledge and learning he won't have been able to do what he did for this nation.
 
ORF Mumbai chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni said the Narendra Modi government should launch a study in India campaign to attract a large number of foreign students to enrol themselves in Indian universities. ‘For this campaign to succeed, each of our 700-plus universities must be given adequate autonomy and financial support to pursue the goal of 'Quality higher education for all', he added

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