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Indian Govt. plans thrust on Internationalisation of higher education to enhance its innovation

India climbed four spots on the Global Innovation Index 2020 and is now at 48th position in the list of top 50 innovative countries in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) annual ranking. India has been gradually improving it’s Global Innovation Index (GII), in 2016, India climbed 15 spots, from 81 to 66 and maintained the top spot in the Central and South Asia regions. India occupied the 52nd position in 2019 and was ranked 81st in the year 2015.


Historically India had  poor recoed in  intellectual property development. It generated few science PhDs and fewer engineering PhDs. Its R&D investments were low. Poor education system is a weakness in spite of recent improvements. Indian innovation is also hampered by poor environment performance, low density of startups, and low publishing output.

India currently spends far below its economic capacity on research, As per DST, gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) as a percentage of GDP was 0.7% in FY19—low even if one accounts for India’s income levels. In comparision China spending in 2019  amounted to 2.23% of GDP, an increase of 0.09 percentage points from the previous year.


Innovation is at the forefront of India’s “Make in India” and “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” initiatives. The aim is not only to make in India but also to innovate in India and transform the Indian economy. India’s vision of becoming a $5-trillion economy is intricately linked with an innovation-oriented approach to economic growth. Education, higher education in particular, is a technology and innovation driver. Furthermore, it is a driver of growth, prosperity and competitiveness in national and global economies.


Education  is  important to raise people’s productivity and creativity and to promote the latest technological advances among the populace. It also plays a crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution. At its core process, economic development involves combining financial and human capital in a productive way, which is why some countries advance faster than others.A well-trained and skilled workforce is better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that are typical of a modern workplace. A workforce with the right expertise works more efficiently and confidently than those struggling to keep up with the changing demands of their roles. Ultimately, a skilled workforce increases productivity and propels growth in the wider economy.


Stressing that India’s priorities for innovation need to be in the areas of energy, water, transport, health care, food security and digital consumption, the index said that India should strengthen its own talent pool and leverage global talent “in these market-pull areas”. Soumitra Dutta, Dean, Cornell College of Business points out that Investing in improving innovation quality is essential for closing the innovation divide. While institutions create an essential supportive framework for doing so, economies need to focus on reforming education and growing their research capabilities to compete successfully in a rapidly changing globalized world.


Universities and other institutions not only provide the latest education and skills training, but also present an active research environment that can be utilised to produce innovations with varied commercial and societal applications. Many important technological advances in recent times, including cloud computing, augmented reality, and self-driving cars, came out of research taking place in universities. The research and innovations coming out of universities benefit the wider economy, as it drives local and global investment, enhances exports, and makes the economy more balanced.


Higher education will stand to be meaningless without quality publications and research. In the last decade, there has been a substantial growth in the number of research deals between the industry and universities. Businesses are increasingly turning towards universities to carry out pertinent research, as they provide access to the best scientific minds and equipments in specialised areas. At the same time, reduced public funding for academic research has made universities more open to industrial collaboration and the private investment which comes along with it.


It also helps if the universities and their collaborative industry partners are geographically close to each other. A good example of this concept is the collaboration between Stanford University and Silicon Valley. Highly successful and globally active companies like Apple, Alphabet (Google), Twitter, Facebook, AMD, Intel and Cisco have set up their headquarters in the areas and make full use of the academic research potential available in the vicinity, which has produced some of the most fascinating technological innovations in recent times.


According to a survey report of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, conducted on higher education it was observed that there are 993 universities, 39931 Colleges and 10725 standalone institutions listed on their portal, which contribute to education (DNS Kumar, 2020)


Current population of India: 1.3 billion (July 2018 est.) Estimated population of India by 2030: 1.5 billion. Number of Indians who will be in the age group of 18-22 in the 5 years: 3 out of 10.

By 2030, India is expected to have the largest number of college-age people in the world – a staggering 140 million. India’s current GER, standing at 26.3 percent, is yet to meet the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s (MHRD’s) target of 30 percent GER by 2020. Moreover, even if the target of 30 percent GER is achieved, India would still be considerably behind countries like China (43.39 percent) and USA (85.8 percent).


According to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) for 2018-19, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in India’s higher education sector has increased from 25.8 percent in 2017-18 to 26.3 percent in 2018-19. Besides, the number of universities have grown from 903 (2017-18) to 993 (2018-19) and total higher education institutions (HEIs) from 49,964 to 51,649 in the same period. Despite witnessing a four-fold increase in the number of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) since 2001, India would need at least another 800 new universities and 40,000 new colleges by 2030 to accommodate this huge number of youth.


Telangana is one of the Indian states that have recorded a GER which is way above the national average. The State in 2018-19, recorded a GER of 36.2 percent, as against the national average of 26.3 percent. according to Radhakrishnan C, Principal, Hillside School, Hyderabad, Telangana has a huge potential to emerge as an educational hub with its critical mass of local and foreign players – including students, education institutions, companies, knowledge industries, science, and technology centers – who can thoroughly collaborate and in some cases co- locate, engage in education, training, knowledge production, and innovation initiatives.


National Education Policy 2020 (“NEP”)

At the launch of India’s 2020-21 budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about the need to make India’s young people more employable through better higher education opportunities. “By 2030, India is set to have the largest working-age population in the world. Not only do they need literacy, they need both job and life skills,” Sitharaman said.


The recently announced National Education Policy 2020 (“NEP”) has created a positive buzz for the Higher Education sector in India, at a global level. It is a forward-looking policy which is rightly focused on promoting India as a global study destination – one which provides premium education at affordable rates. While advocating so, the NEP has proposed several pragmatic measures, such as a single regulator for Higher Education (except law and medicine), light but tight regulation, autonomy to institutes, credit based learning, innovative course structures, change in the format of programs with flexibility of several exit options, focus on research and out-come based leaning amongst others.

The NEP, while continuing to focus on a traditional learning model, pushes for online, open and distance learning as well. Currently, around 25 percent of students graduating from high school in India go on to pursue higher education. The Indian government wants that figure to reach 50 percent by 2035 — doubling the country’s college and university enrollment from its current base of around 35 million students. India has thousands of colleges and universities, but few have the campus facilities or resources to accommodate a 50 percent increase in students over the next 15 years. With no financial support to build new facilities or open new universities, enrolling students online seems the logical solution to boost capacity.


Internationalization of Education

To achieve the objective of internalization of education, the focus should not be limited to Indian institutes alone. Collaboration between Indian and foreign universities should also be encouraged as the exchange of curriculum, teaching, quality standards etc. will help the students, and the economy in the long run. Indian Govt. is also in  favour of “internationalisation” of Indian education to earn more foreign exchange and create an ‘Educated in India’ brand.


Govt. of India approved a new program titled Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs, internationally to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education in India so as to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India’s scientific and technological capacity to global excellence.


In order to garner the best international experience into our systems of education, enable interaction of students and faculty with the best academic and industry experts from all over the world and also share their experiences and expertise to motivate people to work on Indian problems, there is a need for a Scheme of International Summer and Winter Term. During the ‘Retreat’ of IITs with Minister of Human Resource Development Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani on 29th June, 2014 at Goa, it was decided that “A system of Guest Lectures by internationally and nationally renowned experts would be evolved along with a comprehensive Faculty Development Programme not only for new IITs, IIMs, IISERs but also other institutions in the country.



The National Education Policy proposes that high performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries, tie-ups with foreign universities can play a pivotal role of popularizing Indian universities in foreign jurisdictions. The National Education Policy also recommends that credits acquired from foreign universities will be permitted, where appropriate as per the requirements of each higher education institution, to be counted for the award of a degree. This is one more reason for the government to open the doors to foreign universities in India.


Impact of Covid

Outbreak of Covid-19 has compelled lockdown in every sector including education. The institutions got closed with cease of educational activities and created many challenges for the stake holders. So, the  various activities like admission, examinations, entrance tests, competitive examinations conducted by various boards/schools/colleges/ universities are postponed. Many entrance tests for higher study got cancelled which created a great challenge in the life of a student of higher education.


The primary challenge was to continue teaching learning process when students, faculties and staff could no longer be physically present
on the campuses. The obvious solution for the institutions was to depend online teaching learning.


Covid-19 has accelerated adoption of digital technologies to deliver education. It encouraged all teachers and students to become more technology savvy. The HEIs have started conducting orientation classes with the help of different e-conferencing tools like Google Meet, Skype, Youtube live, Facebook live, WebEx etc. to provide support services to the students.


The teachers and students improved the use of electronic media for sharing information by making use of WhatsApp, Google drive, Telegram, Twitter etc. They have been sharing important documents with the group members and creating online local repository also. Students are advised to submit the scanned copies of the assignments to the institution through email. Institutions have also started receiving internship reports and projects through email during the lockdown for Covid-19.


Online Education

The government of India is for the first time allowing universities to offer fully online degrees — a change that could reshape education delivery in the country while blowing open the door to a previously limited market for U.S.-based online education services companies. For many years, Indian universities and colleges were not permitted to offer more than 20 percent of a degree online, in part because of concerns about quality and limited mechanisms for oversight and regulation. Now, as part of a push to widen access to higher education and raise the profile of Indian institutions globally, restrictions on online learning are starting to lift.


It is well known that foreign universities see a large influx from Indian students every year. Due to travel restrictions and change in visa policies, students are not in position to travel to campuses abroad. To give teeth to the latest proposal of the government to prevent outflow of Indian students to universities abroad, the National Education Policy moots welcoming top 100 universities in the world. The government’s approach to online learning is, however, still cautious. Only the top 100 institutions in India’s National Institutional Ranking Framework can apply to offer fully online degrees, and the subject areas are restricted. There will be no online medical or law degrees from the country’s universities in the foreseeable future.


Allowing universities to offer fully online programs is a significant announcement, as it will lead to “true democratization of higher education in India,” said Amit Goyal, country head of India and Southeast Asia for edX, a nonprofit. Fully online degrees can increase enrollment and completion, while at the same time reducing barriers to entry, Goyal said. Both Gupta and Goyal predict that online degrees will likely be offered at lower cost than face-to-face programs and will likely appeal to working adults who don’t have the time to pursue a traditional on-campus degree. An online Indian degree could also be attractive to students in South Asia, Africa or the Middle East, Gupta said.


Currently most degrees in India are offered by a single institution over two to four years. Goyal thinks the landscape could become a lot more modular, with students taking courses for credit from multiple institutions around the world. This model will encourage global partnerships, but a key challenge that will continue to face education providers will be producing job-ready graduates, he said.


Even though the country has been adapting to the new-age learning, but there still lies an obstacle in achieving entire success as only 45 crore people of our total population of the country have access to the internet/e-learning. The people residing in rural areas are
still very much deprived of the technologies and therefore hampering the cause of online education.


The pandemic has also given us an opportunity to examine if online only education is a suitable for a country like India. There is an urgent need to make available universal high speed internet access across India for online learning to work as a model. Till such time this can be achieved, use of mediums such as radio, satellite, recorded videos, etc. should continue to be encouraged for accessibility to quality education.


Challenges of Online Education

We all know that online education has its own limitations. It is not as engaging as being on campus. At times, quality or style of teaching can also be an issue in effective learning as teaching online is very different from classroom teaching. India’s University Grants Commission is responsible for validating the new online degrees and has stated it will not accept any compromises on quality. “Industries are no longer interested in vanilla degrees, as they want professionals with relevant skills and knowledge. The online curriculum will have to be of high quality to make the students job-ready, otherwise the increase in enrollment will serve no purpose,” said Bhushan Patwardhan, vice chairman of the University Grants Commission in a recent Times of India article.


But few institutions have staff who are experienced in launching online programs, and that has education service providers eyeing the subcontinent’s educational landscape eagerly. “It’s a high-focus market for us,” said Raghav Gupta, managing director of India and the Asia-Pacific region for Coursera. “We’re thinking about how we can serve the market better. We see online education in India as a large opportunity.”


Further, courses that require practical work or experiments are very difficult to conduct or take online. The K12 sector in India is already witnessing a growing anguish towards online school education, with several petitions in Indian courts being filed to stop online classes for younger kids due to such issues.


US India Academic Collaboration

While Open Doors report that international students contributed $42.4 billion (up from $39bn in 2016) to the US economy in 2017, market share has been slipping. So it comes as no surprise that the US State Department has now launched Partnership 2020: Leveraging US-India Cooperation in Higher Education, which focuses on greater collaboration between the two countries.


Almost 200,000 Indian students chose the United States as their destination to pursue higher education in the 2019-20 academic year, according to the latest Open Doors Report released. Indian students comprised nearly 20 percent of the over one million students from around the world and the United States has seen a steady increase in the number of undergraduate students from India.


But now India has embarked on an exciting journey to convert its brain drain into brain gain by attracting expertise and investment in higher education through US-India Knowledge Exchange. In 2019, India embarked on  investing $20 million to create ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ hubs in higher education institutions that bring American universities to its campus


US-India Knowledge Exchange (USIKE)

USIKE was launched in June 2017 at Georgetown University in Washington DC to strengthen the strategic partnership between the US and India through collaboration in higher education, research on key issue areas, and people-to-people linkages. For the US, such collaborations with India will help offset its losses in the international education sector.


To ensure the suitability and sustainability for these hubs, USIKE, Sannam S4 and USISPF led a delegation of American universities like University of California Berkeley, Drexel University, Purdue University, Lehigh University, Northeastern University, Troy University, University of South Florida and Cornell University to New Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai from January 15 to 20. The group attended meetings with senior Indian government functionaries, higher education institutes and business leaders.


“The level of representation and participation from Indian State Public Universities during our pre-launch event in New Delhi assured us that Indian colleges are extremely receptive to this program,” Mutton told The PIE News. Their enthusiasm to network with more American universities and set up other partnerships demonstrate that they are willing to upgrade their innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems on campus.”


An important product of this collaboration is the 10 ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ hubs that India will be funding at the rate of $2 million each. This $20 million investment promises to create a close university-university collaboration on knowledge and involve sector specific industries to share their expertise.


“There is huge untapped collaborative potential between the US and Indian institutions, as well as with industry players in India, to support the acceleration of home-grown research and local development of intellectual property,” said Adrian Mutton, Founder and CEO of Sannam S4, a global organisation that operates in 20 countries including India. “As India harnesses its unquestionable academic and entrepreneurial capabilities, it will create greater economic prosperity and job creation and the outcomes will positively impact millions of the nations’ citizens,” Mutton said in a statement.


“Education is a natural area of partnership between the US and India and one which USISPF is actively promoting,” said Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of USISIPF. “Educational Institutions are core to India achieving her ambitions and we have seen some exciting industry-education interplay which we are hoping will evolve into sustainable programmes in the future,” Lakshmi Iyer, Executive Director and Head of Education at Sannam S4, said in a statement.


However international players are also wary of regulatory, tax, financial, and compliance barriers, which are particularly complex for US non-profit organisations. Major impediments include issues like tax exemptions, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and permanent establishment tax.


“The vision for USIKE is to convene the leading minds in academia, the private sector and the government to develop new partnership opportunities, initiate policy reform & re-establish the US-India Government to Government dialogue on higher education.”


Indian Online Education Market

Online education in India has witnessed an enhanced acceptance over a few years. It is becoming an integral part of the school, colleges and even in offices across India. One of the advantages of online education has is that this kind of education model is easily scalable. The Indian government is also allowing the universities to offer fully online degrees – a change that could reshape the education industry in the country. The Indian Online Education Market is forecast to be worth $ 8.6 Billion by 2026.


Due to pandemic coronavirus schools, colleges and other educational institutions are witnessing a shift towards online learning. As India was under lockdown, e-learning changed the perception of education. The digital education market has a bright future ahead as even when the schools will reopen; they will have to work with reduced classroom strength, to ensure social distancing.


Easy availability of the internet is the primary reason for the growth of online education in India. Between 2019 and 2020 the number of internet users in India increased by 128 million. For the first time, rural India has more number of internet users compared to urban India.

Factors Driving India E-learning Market

1. Improvement in internet connectivity due to the low cost of 4G data.
2. Growth in smartphone penetration.
3. Online education cost is comparatively small compared to traditional programmes.
4. Favourable e-learning government policies such as e-Basta, SWAYAM and Digital India
5. Rising demand among working professionals due to the flexibility of time.




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