President Ram Nath Kovind today said larger national goals cannot be achieved without improving the quality of institutions of higher learning.
He was inaugurating a two-day Conference of Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities and Directors of Institutions of National Importance at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“We should be setting benchmarks for the best in the world,” he said. He was happy to note that this year 35 Indian institutions have been ranked in the QS ranking as against 29 last year.
In the top 300, there are six institutions this year as against four last year. The President noted that the Indian Institute of Science has got a full score of 100 on the ‘research’ parameter and shares this distinction with eight highly reputed institutions in the world, including Princeton, Harvard, MIT, and Caltech.
The President is the Visitor of 161 Central Institutes of Higher Education. Out of 161 institutes, 53 are attending the Conference physically while others are connected virtually.
The Visitor’s Conference will deliberate on various topics such as the role and responsibilities of Higher Education Institutions in Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Besides, there will be subjects like international rankings of Higher Education Institutions; collaboration between Academia-Industry and policy-makers; integrating school, higher and vocational education; education and research in emerging and disruptive technologies.
The President said that he was happy to note that ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ commemorating the glorious history of India’s freedom movement finds a place in the opening session.
He said that “our institutions of higher learning are central to this, as our young citizens are not only the inheritors of the past, but also the ones who will be leading India into its next golden age.”
Significantly, he said, “Institutions of higher education have a major responsibility of transforming the impressionable youth. For this, we need to address their aspirations, as they are future leaders in various spheres of life.”
Speaking about the quality of education, the President said that to improve it, sophisticated and innovative learning approaches should be considered. The key to achieving excellence is to harness the transformational benefits of digital technologies for enriching the teaching and learning experience.
Digital technologies are expanding the boundaries of education. When the pandemic threatened to derail teaching and learning, technology ensured continuity.
He said that there were difficulties, but it is good to see that educational institutions imparted teaching and conducted assessments, evaluations, and research uninterrupted.
The President said that while one cannot deny the importance of pure sciences, for a country like India the importance of utilising research into socially and economically relevant outcomes cannot be ignored.
Therefore, the agenda item on ‘Collaboration between academia, industry and policy makers’ is highly relevant. Speaking about ‘integrating schooling and higher and vocational education’, the President said that the system should educate in a way that not only enhances knowledge but also provides the skill to live a fulfilling and useful life. The school lays the foundation, but this must lead a student to higher or vocational education meeting both aptitude and aspirations.