Recognise emerging global trends, Pranab tells VCs

Says Central universities have the responsibility to lead the transformative processes of India’s higher education system.

Central universities have the responsibility to lead the transformative processes of India’s higher education system, said President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday as he addressed a Conference of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities (CUs) at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Mr. Mukherjee said in addition to international rankings, the universities should attempt ratings on a National Ranking Framework which needs to be expeditiously developed.

He urged the Vice Chancellors to recognise emerging global trends which are likely to bring sweeping changes in higher education worldwide.

The President said students passing out from the Indian higher education system will have to compete with the best in the world, therefore, there is a need to imbue young minds with competitive spirit and a sense of pride in their alma mater.

He expressed concern over the vacancy position in Central Universities, which he said remains alarmingly high – in terms of percentage, vacancies have increased from 37.3 percent as on March 31, 2013 to only 38.4 percent as on December 1, 2014.

The President said the problem of non-availability of a Visitor’s nominees in the selection committee of faculty has been addressed; each Central University will now have a panel of five names of nominees who can be called as per extant instructions.

Pointing out that only four universities have so far established centres of excellence while another five are working towards these, the President stressed on the need to encourage engagement of central universities with industry and alumni. He also said there is an urgent need to put ICT Networks to effective use.

The President said because of the diversities in evaluation systems, students have suffered in the acceptance of their credentials across the university system and in accessing employment opportunities. The initiative of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) will ensure seamless mobility of students across higher education institutions in the country as well as abroad. The credits earned by students can be transferred and would be of great value to them in the event of their seeking migration from one institution to the other. 23 central universities have already implemented CBCS. He urged remaining universities to consider implementing this system from next academic year, he pointed out.

Mr. Mukherjee said the university is a role-model for society at large and its persuasive power extends beyond the classroom and teaching, therefore, its influence must be tapped for greater good and called upon Central Universities to start working with at least five villages each under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana to transform them into model villages.

The President said particular emphasis has to be provided by our higher learning institutions on the inculcation of core values in our students. ‘Our civilization has championed patriotism, pluralism, tolerance, honesty and discipline. Our democracy has thrived on these values. The next generation must learn to recognize our diversity, inclusiveness and assimilative capacities as inherent sources of strength’ he said.

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