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Former chairman of the University Grants Commisson Arun Nigavekar has said that experimenting with a multi-layered higher education structure involving private universities and education providers is imperative for India to meet the growing requirement of skilled manpower for high economic growth. "There are enormous opportunities on this front for universities from India and the United Kingdom (UK)," he said at a two-day India-UK Education Partnership Forum meeting, which began here on Monday 23rd April, 2012.
"This is despite the two countries pursuing different structures of higher education at present," he added. Nigavekar said, "The Indian government's policies like the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) for universalisation of elementary education, and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan - an extension of SSA to the secondary level - are bound to create a larger pressure on the country's higher and professional education by 2020." "The existing number of 130 million students in Indian higher education is projected to go up to 400 million in next two decades or more owing to these policies," he said. This growth calls for a multi-layered strategy, including the need to bring in private equity players," he added. "The Maharashtra government has made a move in this direction by clearing the private universities' bill, which will become a positive driving force of education in the state," said Nigavekar. "Private universities will not only bring in investments but also a whole new dimension and approach to higher education," he added. "The Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2011, which is expected to be tabled during the monsoon session of the state legislature, also carries several path-breaking provisions for promoting international collaborations and partnerships with foreign institutions," he said. Mushtaq Birader, the Mumbai-based deputy director of UK Trade and Investment, which acts as facilitator for the UK-based businesses to invest abroad, said, "India has much to offer to the UK besides students to our courses. There has been a significant shift in the thinking of the UK higher education in terms of going beyond attracting students, curriculum and faculty exchange, to build partnerships and collaborations with countries like India." Deputy Secretary to the state department of higher and technical education Abhay Wagh provided an overview of the changes introduced by the government to encourage technical education and skill development in the last decade. He said the state government was also in favour of supporting collaborative efforts between Indian and UK institutions. Chairman of All-India Shri Shivaji Memorial Society Shrimant Shahu Maharaj, executive director of MIT group of institution, Sunil Karad, vice-chancellor of Symbiosis International University Bhushan Patwardhan were also present. Nineteen delegates from 13 UK universities are participating in the meet that will explore tie-ups with Indian higher education institutions.
Courtesy: Times of India
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