Introduction Every old University in India brings with it decades of years of experience and accumulated knowledge in terms of documentation of that knowledge in one form or the other. There are many Universities that have many autonomous colleges that have innovated a good deal in terms of teaching methods, adding to the brand value of the particular University. As the New Education Policy unfolds itself, why not make the most prestigious University of the State a model University, where a massive number of innovations can happen with both private sector support and State support? Between such model Universities, there should be constant exchanges, leading to further improvements and innovations.
To this end, a) Model Universities should be formed with clear role definitions b) Each Model University can mentor two more State Universities c) Best practices abroad should be implemented in Model Universities d) Faculty Exchange programs and study abroad facilities should be multiplied and e) Model Universities should be evaluated by foreign experts and Indian experts.
Model Universities should be formed with clear roles The Model University is not just another University. The Role of this University is to undertake applied research in that particular State in highly dynamic fields, such as Public Policy and Economic Models for development at both micro and macro levels. The Model University should be empowered to tap Alumni resources and also appeal to the private sector for support.
For example, if the University of Madras is selected as a Model University of Tamil Nadu, the
University of Kerala is selected as the Model University of Kerala, and Banaras Hindu University is selected as the Model University of Uttar Pradesh, all these Universities should depute their best Economics professors, for example, to undertake research on areas particularly relevant for the development of their States. For example, Uttar Pradesh will do well to develop several IT hubs where its educated and trained manpower can be readily employed. This development can even happen in tier 2 towns. Once this is done, it would have solved, at least to some extent, the employment problem of UP.
Next comes learning from successful experiences. The learned professors should conduct research on the success stories from Chennai and Hyderabad and even the BPO success stories to figure out how the infrastructure needs have to be first set up for the IT hubs to take shape. The scope is huge and this can lead to further innovations. The Model Universities can have better roles and these can also flow from the world-class experts who have had several years of experience with the best Universities abroad.
Each Model University can mentor two more State Universities We already have the experience of an older Indian Institute of Management mentoring a relatively new Indian Institute of Management. The best practices already established, can be easily learned. The Benaras Hindu University can mentor, for example, University of Allahabad and the University of Lucknow for three years. When this happens, the new Universities will have enough experience and skill sets to become Model Universities.
Best practices abroad should be implemented in Model Universities The aim is to learn from anywhere in the world and the Universities in the mighty USA have tremendous resources. They might be willing to share vital information on their best practices. When this happens, the knowledge base of the Model Universities is bound to improve considerably.
Increasing faculty exchange programs and study abroad facilities Faculty exchange programs have already happened in the case of many Universities. However, the knowledge transfer does not seem to have been up to the desired level. We need to make the experienced Faculty Members, who have trained abroad or have teaching experience, conduct any number of "Training the Trainer" programs to reach a vast number of colleges and students and also the semi-urban and rural students.
Evanulating Model Universities by experts There has to be an evaluation of the new initiatives, particularly after a period of two years. A panel of experts from abroad and from within India can be formed for this purpose by the Union Grants Commission and the scope and nature of this evaluation can be clearly defined as well. When the Model Universities show a level of performance that far exceeds what is currently being shown as performance, it is quite possible to draw inferences as to where further improvements can be made, more in terms of adjusting and conforming to the New Education Policy guidelines. The four-year degree courses said to be started in the Arts and Science colleges is one indication of where the Model Universities need to focus in terms of quantum jump in terms of teaching methods, developing new study material, and so on. Already, the Central Universities seem to be making some changes. How far these changes will impact the other Universities needs to be seen. At the moment, everything is in a state of flux and when the NEP is rolled out, there will be many voices in support of some changes and some voices of protest. Every change will bring with it a wave of resistance and the New Education Policy is no exception to this rule. However, an experiment like Model Universities may sort of take into account the emerging ground realities and hopefully play an important role in the establishment of new templates for the desired action focussed on good results.
Given the fact that a minimum period of sixty months is required for any change to acquire some shape, the Model Universities, as an experiment, will also go through this process of establishment and consolidation. Evaluation will obviously mean measuring achievements made in the light of objectives set out for the Model Universities and their roles in particular.
Conclusion At a time when there are many global changes happening at a frantic pace, we should make quantum improvements in higher education to catch up with western countries in terms of performance. Hopefully, the Model Universities will enable innovation in Higher Education and become vehicles of dynamic changes in the years to come.
Identifying some of the universities as potential model universities of future is a bright idea and can be implemented by the educational authorities in our country. There are some observations and points that are to be considered in this matter.
In our country we have already got some apex universities where good research and innovative programs are going on and some of them have exchange faculty process also with some foreign countries. So, in a way, the making of some model universities proposition is already in place. Then the question arises where we are lacking in achieving the objectives of this exercise. One thing that comes to my mind is that the chosen faculty may not be up to that standard everywhere as is generally envisaged in such plans. Another thing possibly could be the emphasis on pure academic research rather than on industry related research. The point is that the research programs should be holistic in their nature and there should be emphasis on the return to society by such programs. The innovative research can be said to be successful only when it is for the benefit of a larger section of the society, especially the poor and downtrodden people. So, there are some basic conditions which are also to be considered and changed while taking such big decisions in the educational sector.
Model university is a good concept. In a state, there may be many universities but in some of the universities, we will see world-class amenities, excellent faculty and proactive management. Such universities will make good progress. There are universities which bring in good changes in the syllabus and establish rapport with industry and the curriculum will be made in such a way that the outcomes from the universities will be useful to those industries.
The model universities can interact with other universities and see that their standards also will improve. This interaction will be better at department levels. If the Chemistry department of a university is very famous, a committee with the faculty in that department can be made. They can take up the responsibility of uplifting the Chemistry departments of other universities. We will then definitely see excellent growth. Interactions at micro levels will yield better results.