But free movement of people! That seems a big current issue! Oxford Vice Chancellor is in India!

The Madam Chancellor wants more Indian students. But then the British government puts a cap on free entry of Indian students.The UK universities relax qualifications for the Chinese students.So, more money might come from China. How many Indian educators think of these issues? Neither the Indian government nor the private education institutions!

Professor Louise Richardson

Professor Louise Richardson

Louise Richardson, the current Vice Chancellor of the Oxford University (ranked the world’s top university this year also in terms of prestige, academic excellence) was in India and spoke about a range of education issues; the current tight visa regime for Indian students seeking admission to UK universities. Once upon a time Britain was the big draw for Indian universities. But not anymore! First, the cost of British education is going up. Second, the US universities draw more students. Also, the job prospects are much better in the USA. An American visa and also the chances to over-stay, even the illegal over-stays; let us admit it, are much brighter in the American country.

These are the realities for Indian students who want to pursue higher education.There are still lots of issues that can be debated and resolved for raising the quality of Indian higher education. Now, for the Oxford VC, she says, that according to the data from the UK’s Higher Education Statistical Agency the number of Indian students in the UK has been declining at CAGR of 5.7%, although it has risen at a CAGR of 2.7% at the University of Oxford. She said this in an interview.

EU students too might be affected said the VC because of the Brexit. But then what the Oxford VC says has lot of bearings on the Indian higher education. That is the question of the functions of universities. These places must be the sources of new ideas, new discoveries and new insights into the world. Universities should play crucial role in seeking solutions of many of the current world challenges like pollution, environment and climate change etc.

Only those who don’t have any idea of any of the larger things would talk in such narrow terms like superstitious issues like Hindustan and the sciences in ancient India etc.

It is patently wrong for politicians and businessmen, the so-called corporate heavyweights to enter into higher education world. Ideally, it is for the intellectuals, scientists and creative minds from humanities, why even artists and writers to talk about new ideas and new discoveries.

Universities, ideally, must be left to themselves, i.e. fully autonomous. Again autonomy doesn’t come at the drop of a hat! Autonomy must have a history and tradition. Perhaps, that is why long histories of universities matter. In India itself, we have three older universities at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. We have to nurture and promote and get funds for very many new courses and departments.Sciences and humanities in these universities must have equal share in funding and, the recruitment of faculty must be, ideally, from an international pool.

There are very many talented Indian academics; also we can recruit internationally for some of the rare fields.Culture matters a lot. We were recently in Florence in Italy; Florence had a great history in arts and humanities.Why not collaborate with some of the world famous seats of learning? The PM must be a drawer of talents, ideas and must be seen talking and meeting and mingling with great minds.Politics alone is not life!

Culture of people matters.We have wonderful opportunities; with a range of online learning courses. Bring home any course, any great mind or minds to the doorsteps of our universities. Webinar etc. enables to do this at a fraction of costs! It is imagination, passion and commitment that matters at the end of the day!

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