New Delhi: India is preparing to involve industries in higher education in an effort to boost both research and employability.
The human resource development (HRD) ministry expects this will, in addition to employability, solve issues related to land availability and finance. In return, the government will give industries independence and fast-track regulatory clearances for opening institutes that will focus on research specific to industry requirements.
The ministry, in association with lobby group Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), has invited 17 government departments and ministries and nearly 60 companies to a two-day conference in Delhi that will begin on Monday, according to a ministry concept note that Mint has reviewed.
“If we reach an agreement, then we don’t have to go to Parliament and it will be more of a ministry-level decision to engage industry in higher education,” said S.S. Mantha, chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the regulator in the higher education sector for technical institutes and a part of the HRD ministry. “Through the conference we want to understand what the industry requires on regulatory front. We will try to accommodate that.”
Shalini Sharma, head of the education wing at CII, said companies are open to the idea and want to know “what the government is offering”. The exercise will fast-track industry involvement and is a positive for higher education, Sharma said, particularly as research needs to pick up in the country and should happen in sync with industry demand.
“The government cannot do everything by its own. Once the industry participates, issues like land and finance will be taken care of easily,” said Mantha.
Mantha said involving the industry will promote theme-based research and innovation during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17). This will “stimulate discussion between industry players and ministries” on setting up institutes that will focus on specific research and enter into twinning and collaborative programmes with other universities and research organizations, he said.
Such institutes should admit trained people across disciplines to do research, leading to the award of doctoral degrees in sectors ranging from water to chemicals, urban development to manufacturing, and energy and mines, the concept note underlined.
The HRD ministry will function as the nodal agency for setting up such institutes, it said. Higher education reform has been left cold the past couple of years, but the government has given education a priority sector tag for the 12th Five-Year Plan period that began on 1 April 2012.
Several proposed legislations related to higher education, including the foreign university Bill, education tribunal Bill, education malpractice Bill and accreditation Bill are pending in Parliament.