High Profile Think-Tank to discuss opportunities and challenges associated with higher education in India

14 Oct

University Park:The U.S.-India Higher Education Research Conference hosted by Penn State University was inaugurated by Michael Adewumi on University Campus today. The two day conference will have the participation from high-level delegation of invited administrators and researchers from India and the U.S. on October 10-11, 2011. The purpose is to create a network of scholars and policy makers that can serve as a think-tank for discussing opportunities and disputes associated with higher education in India.
“We expect that this inaugural conference will also contribute to establishing and strengthening relationships and friendships between academic communities in the U.S. and in India, and of course with Penn State,” said Michael Adewumi, vice provost for Global Programs and leader of the Global Engagement Network strategy.
Other eminent dignitaries such as Sam Pitroda, the Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, and Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Member of the Planning Commission of Higher Education in India were present at the conference. Mr. Pitroda said, “It’s time to question the model of education and we hope through these kinds of dialogues with Penn State, we can learn about new programs that will create a good situation for everyone. ”
This conference was organized by the Faculty Implementation Team of Penn State’s Global Engagement Network with special focus on India. The conference was primarily led by Arvind Rangaswamy, senior dean of faculty and research in the Smeal College of Business.
Highlights from Day 1:
Inaugural conference a launching pad for collaboration between the two countries as India embarks on a strategic reform of its higher education programs
·         PSU to work in conjunction with Indian authorities and has proposed innovative ideas surrounding the growth and development of higher education in an effort to revamp the system in India

Obstacles of the Indian education system:
Minimal access to quality education that will provide students with the credentials to compete in a global economy
Shortage of quality faculty members
Students graduating without basic soft skills that make them employable
India’s low gross enrollment ratio: 19 percent (%age  going on to higher education)
India’s “regimented” system of education- lack of flexibility and freedom of choice
·         Solutions Discussed:

Integration of liberal arts into the curriculum will enhance the overall quality of higher education and produce well-rounded, marketable employees
Improvement of the student-teacher ratio, number of qualified teachers
Development of a system around human nature that allows for more focus on learning rather than exams and offer students more flexibility, such as the ability to choose their courses
Adewumi explained that as an institution, Penn State must set out on the course toward global leadership in scholarship and international engagements through partnership. The conference’s cooperative conversations, interactive presentations and thought-provoking discussion sessions will serve as a catalyst for the synergistic and collaborative relationship the U.S. and India hope to cultivate in the coming years.
Some of the delegates will also attend the U.S.–India Higher Education Summit, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on October 13 in Washington, D.C.

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