Innovation Universities in India


The following article gives an overview of the Innovation Universities that are about to be established and introduced in India.

There has always been a need for better and relevant education at every level. Be it the primary level, secondary level or the university level, every sector needs a complete structural change in the quality, quantity and method of education. Politicians, scientists, businessmen and even people who have never been to school have expressed their dissatisfaction with the kind of education provided in the educational institutions. Owing to the growing criticism of the present education system, the Government has tried to change the way students are educated. There have already been steps taken at the primary and the secondary level which have been appreciated by the students as well as parents. In an effort to bring radical changes in the education system in the universities, the Government of India has come up with a protocol called the 'Innovation Universities.'

The effort of the Government in this field is commendable and clearly showcases the desire of the leaders of India to take India to its zenith by giving quality education to its citizens.

It has been proven over and over again that the days when military power or physical strength used to decide the fate of a country has been out-dated. The status of a country used to be decided according to the might of its army and the expanse of territory it controlled. However, the recent decades have seen that knowledge of the minds can easily overpower the empire with largest army. A country with great and intelligent minds need not fear from other countries, traditions, cultures or revolutions. Japan, an epitome of success, is a perfect example of a country that has overcome all its problems to enter the league of elite nations. Japan was successful only because it was determined to forget all the atrocities of World War II that had left them crippled and invest in technology through education and knowledge.

It has been truly said by Sir Winston Churchill, 'The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.' Keeping this in mind, India has decided to set up 14 Innovation Universities that would cater to the best students of India and be recognized as one of the best in the world. A university to be best has to constantly involve itself in research and development to improve the standard of education in every way which is conspicuously lacking in the present universities where the pattern of education which was followed 50 years ago is still followed to the book.

A university to be at par with the best in the world has to have an iconic research and development department and a school that churns out best scholars that get worldwide recognition. Many a times we have heard about ground-breaking software's being developed, a huge break in the field of Science or a new theory compiled from a university which had its students and professors researching together to achieve a common goal. This is definitely nowhere on the scene in the universities of India. The Innovation Universities are set to change this.

Aims of the Innovation University


"The university shall stand for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas, and for the search for truth. It shall constantly aspire for attainment of the pinnacle of knowledge and learning, to provide a path for humankind free from deprivation and want, to study the mind of Man in its realization of different aspects of truth from diverse points of view, to understand and appreciate nature and its laws for the well-being and happiness of the present and future generations."
The aim of the Universities is clear and concise to make one understand the objective behind the introduction of the Innovation Universities. It aspires to create a global citizen with the penchant for research and humanism.

Similar, Yet Different
All the 14 universities that are going to be set up will be similar in approach towards inculcating the habit of learning in the universities. They will be inclined towards development of practical and logical minds rather than education based only on theory, however, as illustrated in the declaration the universities will 'not be clones of each other.' Each University would be given the autonomy to concentrate its research on a particular problem which will be different from other universities. The various problems that would be taken into consideration would be completely different yet, related to each other. They could be related to Science and Technology, Human Resource, Global Warming or Agriculture.


The Students


It has been firmly stipulated that the Innovation Universities would have the best facilities and reputation to invite genuine scholars from around the globe. There would be no restrictions for any student from any country if he/she wants to enrol in any one of the universities. Students will also have to fulfill one of the 4 criteria to get admission in the university they desire to enter into.

Type 1: Admissions based on performance in the examinations of the course last attended. e.g. admission to undergraduate courses in Delhi University based on the performance in the Class XII examinations.

Type 2: Entrance examinations that test the achievement and learning levels for a student to attempt the course for which he seeks admission. e.g. Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) conducted by IITs.

Type 3: Standardized aptitude tests that measure the general cognitive abilities rather than achievement. e.g. Common Aptitude Test (CAT) conducted by IIMs.

Type 4: Admissions based on academic performance over a period of time or on the application dossier.

There still has not been a clear picture regarding the reservations in Innovation Universities. The formulators of the system still seem to be trying to figure a system which will be best for everyone without compromising the quality and objectives of the Innovation Universities. There will be a lot of difference in the admission procedure of under-graduates for graduate courses and graduates for post-graduate courses. However, most of the people who have got an inkling of the idea have been supportive of the fact that distinction of any kind other than through merit would ensure the creditability of the universities.

The Curriculum


The best attribute about the syllabus in the Innovation Universities is that the students will not be bound to stick to one course or programme but will have the flexibility to make horizontal movements from one programme to another. This will result in involvement of various faculties which will synergize the efforts to achieve a common goal. The programmes will be organised in such a way that they will somehow be related to each other. The various faculties will also be given operational autonomy to decide the functioning of faculties and course structure. The presence of Academic Peer Group Audit will make it possible for the various programmes to be audited periodically and revamped if necessary. The fee structure too will be prescribed by the faculty which will be sufficient enough to meet the operational expenses. It has also been proposed to provide scholarships to scholars that form the top 20% of the students and the expenditure will be borne by the Central Government. Education Loans too will be provided at various rates according to socio-economic background of the student.

Autonomy


The Innovation Universities will enjoy autonomy to a high degree but will not be spared from accountability. The formulation of rules and regulations within a university will also have its formulators open to responsibility and accountability. It also has been assured that the universities will not be ruled by an administrator that looks to dictate its terms and conditions, but a body that will give autonomy in every aspect including forming new ideas and research.

Teachers will also be given the autonomy to exercise their freedom in methods of teaching they deem fit for the students. A teacher will not only be judged by the vast knowledge he/she has but also the ease with which he/she delivers and imparts knowledge. The teachers will also be instructed to develop inquisitive and challenging minds in the students. Teachers' performance will be reviewed periodically. The University will also have the the autonomy to appoint faculty members and invite teachers.

Freedom to Research
If the nation wants change, research and development sector has to be improved. A nation cannot stay stagnant in its course only to walk along the conventional theories and rules. Research needs time and patience, one cannot expect the research department to work wonders in one day. However, for any research to stay alive and garner results, it has to be funded consistently. Government has been working out on a plan to collaborate with private sponsors to work towards this sector.

The Regulatory Board


It would be suicidal to let the Innovation Universities function completely on their own without any regulations from outside. However, for Innovation Universities to be a grand success, they have to be given some space to breathe and function freely. There has been a recommendation to have a proper structure to define the relationship between the University and the Government as most of the finance will be provided by the Government.
It has been stated that the President of India will act a a Visitor of the University who will ensure the proper and smooth functioning of the universities and even give advice when needed. The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor will be among the highly esteemed academicians. Delegation and decentralisation of powers and responsibilities will form the crux of the university administration.

Infrastructure and Establishment


The Government has been all geared up to establish the Innovation Universities. It is trying to promote all kinds of measures to invite Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Moreover, various esteemed universities that enjoy a high status in the academic world have been willing to collaborate with India in this aspect. All the Innovation Universities will have support from the Government apart from teaching which will be supported by the promoting foreign university. The establishment of Innovation Universities will depend on issues that have national importance. Some existing reputed universities in India with an ability to achieve higher world class standards will also be given a thrust to develop into Innovation universities.

Conclusion


It has been 'better late than never' for India to realise the worth of knowledge and education. Education of any kind cannot be imparted without the means to impart it. It has therefore, become necessary for the Government of India to formulate plans to establish institutions of a world class calibre with help from private institutions or without. It has also been said that Government has realised the ill-effects of 'Brain Drain' and is desperately trying to make sure that it does end soon. This comes as a good omen at this stage when the world knows that research and knowledge is going to be the deciding factor in every field. It has been very encouraging to hear about Innovation Universities coming in the scene to change the way one looks at the Education System. With the research and development field on the rise in India, it will ensure knowledge to be produced in India instead of being borrowed from elsewhere. We cannot wait more to see a day when India will have its indigenous companies ruling the world. This certainly is India's giant leap towards being a Super Power in the near future.


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