Foreign educationists cite problems faced by universities in setting up centres in India

While the India Didactics Association is hosting a three-day education fair, Didac India, starting Wednesday and the Asian Summit on Education and Skills (ASES) was held in Bengaluru Tuesday, many proposals and plans of foreign universities to come to India are not seeing the light of day, said experts.

The education fair is being held to empower and improve the quality of education through collaborations and idea exchange sessions, said officials.

While Covid-19 might be one of the factors hindering the growth of the education sector, educationists from different foreign universities and delegates from education departments of different counties point out that a lot of technical and social issues are not in favour for their India plans to take off.

“In 2019, Saudi Arabia and India had agreed to set up an IIT Delhi campus in Saudi Arabia but the proposal has been lying without any outcome,” said Dr Adel Hamad Alzenedy, the vice-governor for Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Alzenedy said, “We are not able to visit India often to set the ball rolling because of the tough visa rules. It is taking nearly three to four weeks to process visas and in turn, it is creating hurdles for us in creating a robust roadmap for planning, designing and executing the proposal. We are looking up to IIT to work on introducing Artificial Intelligence programmes, automotive training and machine learning into our curriculums. We are hoping that this summit will translate into something positive so that we can pursue the proposal more effectively.”

John Gwyn Jones, CEO of Federation of British International Schools in Asia (of which Canadian International School in Bengaluru is also a member) believes that the penetration of British International schools and universities in India is limited because of stiff competition from local universities and schools. “Considering the average economic conditions of the students and the stiff competition from local schools and universities, our penetration into India has been very limited. The Fee structure, quality of education, teaching pedagogy among other factors really vary from the Indian knowledge and learning system,” said Jones.

Jones also suggested that the British curriculum model, which is called the International Primary Curriculum, should be introduced in the school education system in India. “This model is designed on the lines of thematic and case study-based learning wherein all subjects are integrated under one theme. For example, a student learning about rainforests will also learn about science, geography, mathematics and English within the same theme or case study. Most of the British schools follow this model to make learning fun and more interesting,” Jones added.

A senior British official, who did not wish to be named, said with the growing call for ‘decolonising’ Indian textbooks, collaborating with the department of education in India on curriculum aspects would be very challenging. Moreover, the official also pointed out that public universities view foreign universities as a threat in India.

However, members from the British Council stated that many delegations representing institutions, including Kings College London, University of Birmingham and University of Cambridge, visited Bengaluru in June this year and expressed interest in collaborating with Indian education institutions for faculty exchange and student-centric programmes.

Hosted by the higher education department of Karnataka, the 12th edition of Didac India will be held at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) from Wednesday to Friday. It will showcase state-of-the-art solutions for education and skill sectors. The expo will feature over 4,000 innovative products and services. Over 200 exhibitors from over 20 countries, including Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung, HP, etc, will showcase the latest cutting-edge technologies, products and services. The expo will be attended by education ministers from about 15 countries, including UK, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and 10 Indian states, including Gujarat, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Goa among others.

Addressing ASES Tuesday in Bengaluru, higher education minister, C N Ashwath Narayan said, “Teachers, students and officials from the department of higher education will make use of the expo to the full potential, wherein we will be looking for opportunities to exchange ideas, redesign the curriculum and the teachers’ training programmes, digitise education in Karnataka among others. Many foreign universities have expressed interest to collaborate with Karnataka universities and colleges for twinning degree courses (including in polytechnic), student exchange programmes and research and development.”

Twinning is a system where students can complete a part of their studies in India and the rest in a foreign college, with which the students’ college has a tie-up.

The minister added that the central government is working on legislation to help foreign universities set up their campuses in India soon.


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