India’s growing economy requires talented individuals to meet the demands of the knowledge economy, which calls for high quality education. “There has been a need to reform higher education in India for a long time. The lack of reforms has not only led to a large percentage of our graduates being unemployable but also led to a huge outflow of youngsters seeking higher education abroad. The New Education Policy of 2020 seeks to bring in much needed reforms and the stage is set for institutions to be set up in India which can cater to the huge demand for higher education in our country”, adds Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder. Today’s educational institutions will have to adjust to the changing times if they are to best serve their students and remain relevant in a world where there are more options than ever before.
A university suited to modern India
Building institutions is a noble endeavor, and educators are committed to educating young minds throughout the country. However, universities are much more than just places for learning. University education not only helps students complete their higher education, but also encourages holistic development and exposes them to a wide variety of extracurricular activities such as sport, music, and art.
In order for universities of today to achieve excellence and relevance, they should adopt the following model of institution building:
- Collective philanthropy – “At Ashoka University, we have over 150 eminent founders who have contributed to build the institution. In addition, they have contributed with their time and expertise to the brand of the university. There is and can be only one mission that binds all these people together – to build an excellent institution. Hence excellence is built into the DNA of the institution. Excellence in turn draws in more like-minded founders. It is a virtuous cycle and the founder base of Ashoka will continue to grow”, says Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder
- Faculty and leadership selection – Building an institution begins with faculty. In order to build a great institution, it is important to select and recruit the right faculty. In turn, good students are attracted to high-quality faculty. It is also a virtuous cycle – good students are attracted to good faculty, and vice versa. The second important stakeholder category involves the selection of leaders who run the university. A good university leader must be not only a great scholar but also open-minded, empathic, and devoted to building an institution.
- Experiential learning and real-world experience – By supplementing curriculum with project work, open-ended problems, and research assignments, students develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Students in professional courses are required to attend industry visits, attend special lectures with industry representatives, and prepare case studies on real-world problems. Engineering education should emphasize learning by building and making rather than just learning theoretical concepts.
- Apprenticeship and Internships – “Apprenticeship and Internships should be a part of every university program in today’s age. Often students are confused on what professional organization they would like to join. Multiple internships help students not only in discovering their strengths but also figuring out which job functions they like or don’t like. It also brings in the whole element of learning by doing.” adds Vineet Gupta, Ashoka University
- Investing in modern infrastructure. The universities of today need to be equipped with all the resources to provide students with an excellent education experience. Digitalization, research labs, makers labs, and adopting the latest learning technologies all contribute greatly to the creation of a modern university experience. “The idea of a campus as a living lab is being tried by many new institutions,” adds Vineet Gupta.
“The reason why Ashoka University has become a brand is because of its focus on governance, faculty and curriculum. Today, Ashoka University has gone from strength to strength and established itself as one of the top private universities in India. As per the most recent QS University rankings in 2021, Ashoka University was ranked among India’s top 5 private universities, among the top 250 universities in Asia and amongst the top 30 universities in India. In terms of international faculty, Ashoka University ranked no.1 among all 118 universities.” – Says Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder.
To achieve India’s goal of building a 5 trillion dollar economy, we will need many high-quality educational institutions that not only train people but also engage in research and innovation. In order to build a new ecosystem that builds on our strengths, we must break free of age-old practices that hamper our higher education eco-system. In the post-NEP era of Indian higher education, universities that are able to find the right balance between modernization and core values will emerge as the front runners.