India's higher education sector values US collaborations

Date: 20 April 2012
Posted By: AUSIB EduNext

A wave of excitement has gripped the higher education sector in India with many universities and private institutions eagerly seeking out collaborations and partnerships with universities abroad, especially those in the United States.

What is driving this change is the rising aspirations of the over 400 million Indian middle class section going strong on its demand for quality education along with a drive by educational institutes to upgrade their standards.

Keeping in mind India's economic growth of 7% to 8%, continuing economic reforms and a predominantly youthful population in a country of 1.2 billion, the federal government too is pushing for reforms in the educational sector. One of the goals of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal is to steer India and take a quantum leap in higher education by providing access to good quality education that is specialized, employment-oriented and on par with global standards.

As noted in these columns previously, it is this objective that led Singh to sign the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative (OSI) during his visit to the US in 2009. Under this $10 million initiative, the two countries will promote collaborations and the pursuit of innovative ideas by collaborating educational institutions in the US and India in the fields of education, educational reform, agricultural sciences, food security, energy, sustainable development, environmental studies and climate change.

Former US Ambassador to India, Karl F Inderfurth has observed in an essay that the political leadership at the highest level in the two countries is convinced that the 21st century "demands a new brand of cooperation in education." Inderfurth noted that this will include greatly expanded academic exchanges and collaboration as well as enhancing the role of the private sector.

Independent of this and other initiatives at the government level, a number of institutions in both, the US and India are in search of partners in either country. The partnerships will not only result in new opportunities for their students and faculty but also expand the geographical reach and boundary of the university with a presence in another part of the world.

India's National Knowledge Commission has estimated that to achieve a qualitative and quantitative leap in the higher education sector, India will need to increase the number of its universities from the existing 370 to 1,500. A large segment of India's requirement in higher education is being met by private institutions, especially in sectors such as IT, engineering, medicine and management. The government is keen that foreign educational institutions participate in the Indian education environment either by setting up their own sub-centers or collaborate with existing Indian institutions. It may be noted that the higher education market in India is estimated at $15 billion in a $25 billion market that encompasses the entire education sector.

Inderfurth has noted that already over 50 foreign universities have shown interest in operating out of India. These include such prestigious institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Virginia Tech, Duke University, George Washington University and the University of Southern California among others.

Vocational and technical training has been identified by experts as a key area where effective US – India collaborations can be worked out in faculty training and worker training programs. Besides this, there is tremendous potential for entering the Indian education market with a local partner, especially to offer programs in technology and management.

This is where we at AUSIB- the Alliance for US – India Business will be of assistance via our bilateral initiative in higher education- AUSIB EduNext. We provide valuable guidance and support to educational institutions of higher learning in the US and India on a variety of levels. Our range of services include steps to identify and pinpoint opportunities in the higher education sector, facilitating a dialogue with potential partnership institutions in India and the US and helping you work out the details of the partnership.

AUSIB has been assisting corporates in the US and India since 2004 to enter into fruitful partnerships in business. It has now expanded its efforts to the sector of higher education and will provide strong support to your institution in finding a suitable partner for collaboration in India or the US. AUSIB EduNext has an extensive network and is well connected with top leaders in universities and colleges, business, politics and administration in the US and India. We are based in Reston, Virginia with offices in New York, California, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Pune which assist us in our efforts to build partnerships between US and Indian institutions in the higher education sector.

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