Indian Education: The Past, Present And The Future.

As the National Education Policy makes its way into the Indian education system, we only thought it befitting to ask the next-generation leaders in Indian higher education how they were going to utilize this big change. That’s how the panel discussion ‘Next-Gen Scions Of Indian Higher Ed Share Their Vision Of The Future Of Indian Private Universities’ came to life. 

WHO was in the Panel Discussion?

Moderated by CEO and Founder, Jaideep Gupta, the discussion saw five emerging leaders in the higher education space panel discussion poster with speakers from CEO Univariety, JLU, Atria, Sage, ISDI and ISBF

WHAT was the Panel Discussion on? 

Since COVID and NEP 2020 are hot topics, we wanted to keep the focus on these. However, we also touched on a couple of other very relevant matters. 

  • The future of the Indian University experience
  • Changes in Indian higher education post-COVID
  • The impact of the NEP 2020 on Higher education
  • The need for strong school-university relationships in the coming future  

WHY did the Panel Discussion take place? 

With 2020 witnessing life-changing events, we understood that education, especially in India, would also undergo a transformation. Then, along came NEP 2020 and we knew that an open discussion would help the entire community understand and open up to novel ideas in Indian higher education. Moreover, the Indian education space has gradually been moving towards adopting a global approach to education already with international collaborations with foreign universities, entrance processes seemingly similar to schools abroad, increased industry exposure, and whatnot.

WHEN did it take place?

Aug 14, 2020, at 5:30 PM

WHERE did it take place?

Online

Out of the 550 attendees, 75% were educators, 20% were parents while 5% were students 

Highlights Of The Discussion 

Score in the high 90s? Might not be enough 

All the speakers were in agreement that the concept of testing and selection of students online was here to stay, at least partially. Speaking of marks being just a filter, they emphasized the more important soft skills and the confidence of being able to take on the world. 

Interestingly, the speakers seemed to concur on one phrase: “attitude over aptitude”

They found that students who had the desire to pursue a certain course/subject were likely to push themselves and prepare better for selection rounds than those who simply had the aptitude. Universities like Atria look for ‘demonstrated interest’ in their students more than anything else and this is now increasingly catching up in the Indian education space as well. 

“It’s sad that a student gets reduced to a piece of paper called the mark sheet.”
Shaheem Rahman, CEO, Atria University

Entrance exams can’t test everything 

Speaking of the incomplete nature of admissions in Indian education, all the panelists stated that they have their own selection processes- all of which have gone online now. Most of them confessed to experiencing some discomfort initially but have adapted since. Here are the steps their admission process typically consists of:

Step 1

In most cases, the selection starts with taking a look at the student’s application and their marks and then looking at their performance in the entrance exam. These stages serve as a powerful filter. After this is when they pick students based on their interest level. 

Step 2

In some cases, students have to go through group discussions, challenges, simulations, and other interesting activities with a team after which they have a one-on-one discussion with the admissions team where the student is tested on how confident he/she is, his/her level of social awareness and a lot more. 

Step 3

Finally, the student is provided with an offer should the panel decide that he/she would do well in the university. 

Foreign and Indian collaborations are here to stay

While the NEP 2020 has enabled the establishment of Indian campuses of foreign universities, all the panelists expressed their confidence in the fact that it wasn’t too simple to set up an educational institution in India. Land regulations, permissions, hiring a world-class team- it’s all too much work. Considering that everything is now going online, the academicians believe this trend is here to stay. They also preempt increased collaborations with foreign universities. As a result, ISBF and ISDI already have a partnership with the London School Of Economics and Parsons School Of Design respectively. 

“Everything is online today. So, I don’t think the physicality of a brand name matters too much today. Collaborations are great because everybody wins from one.”
Jitin Chadha, Founder Director, ISBF/IIAD

Collaborations also help Indian universities bring their credit system to global standards. This is a very important development for students in the near future because it gives them the liberty to choose to study at institutions of their choice. 

83% of the participants said they would want to choose a university that offers collaborations with foreign universities. 

For instance, Aarti could start her Economics course in India at ABC University. In a year’s time, she could move to France to XYZ University to do a related course or even a couple of specific subjects. She could then come back to India to finish the remainder of her course, after finishing a year of work. Power of collaboration and the credit bank! 

Also read A collaboration that starts at Ramaiah Medical College and ends in the US/UK.

“Modular Learning- a mix of degrees from multiple disciplines- is the future. In a couple of decades, the concept of a degree might not even exist!”
Shaheem Rahman, CEO, Atria University 

Schools: where the story begins 

Historically, universities and schools in India have been two separate entities. But why has this been the case?  

“Most universities indulge in marketing pitches when they’re invited to schools. So, schools largely refrain from making the invitation. Universities need to provide value if they want schools to be more receptive. Luckily for us, since we also operate schools, we understand how we can plug certain gaps and provide a smooth transition to our students.”
Abhishek Mohan Gupta, Pro-Chancellor Jagran Lakecity University

The reality is that schools and universities must work hand-in-hand. Schools must pass on the baton much like how a relay race would require. To their surprise, schools can begin to see how valuable this can be to their brand image! For instance, Jagran Lakecity University has helped several schools to focus exclusively on the promotion of super curricular activities- activities that revolve around a certain field and that can give student profiles a big boost when it comes to applications. This world is slowly turning its attention towards specialists and super curricular activities ensure relevance in a specific career in the long run. 

98% of participants said they would like to receive training and other tips from universities. 

How can schools make the most of university relationships? 

  • Firstly, schools need to have a separate team that communicates with universities. Before inviting universities, this team must conduct background and other checks.
  • The presence of a Career Counselling team is also of utmost importance. This team will be at the center of all activities related to college selection and application.

“At ISDI, it’s about fitment. With an international partner like Parsons, we know what kind of students we want. Additionally, COVID has democratized the entire process. We have multiple entrance dates for students to take the test and we work on a rolling admissions model. This model also helps to engage a lot more closely with high schools. We talk to counsellors, teachers, principals, chancellors, and so on and they are very eager to learn and to help.”
Siddharth Shahani, Co-founder & Executive Director, ISDI

  • Several universities start engaging with students early. For instance, ISDI starts having ‘sampler’ sessions with students from Class 8. They let students feel different fields and pick the one they think they relate to the most. When students do that, counselling experts can help them build a profile fantastic enough to result in admission and a possible scholarship to their dream college/university. 
  • Not just feelers, some universities also work very closely with school teachers and other faculty. They partner with specific schools and provide them with an outsider’s perspective on crucial learning and teaching aspects like curriculum, teaching style much like a buddy would. 
  • Some other universities conduct 8-10 day-long bootcamps where they invite students over to the campus and help them get a feel of what it would be like to study certain subjects. Students go back much better informed and feel capable enough of taking their own decisions. 

“A student or a teacher’s state of mind is more important than anything else, especially in these times. At SAGE, we have been organizing several discussions where people opened up and shared their fears and our expert team was able to guide them. This is needed!”
Sakshi Agrawal, Executive Director, SAGE University, The SAGE group 

Click Here To Watch Panel Discussion

Even today, parents don’t know a lot about what private universities in India offer and how much their children can learn. With initiatives like these, this trend is slowly reversing. There is, however, a long way to go. It all begins with schools taking ownership and being able to create that wholesome experience for its students and universities going above and beyond a standard presentation or a marketing pitch. 

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