Higher education institutions torch-bearers of progress: President

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said higher education institutions are the torch-bearers of progress in the country, and stressed the need for quality research.

“Building institutions is not merely a brick-and-mortar activity. It represents a vision of the future, which we all want for our nation and the generations to come,” he was quoted as saying by an official release.

He said shortage of teaching faculty had plagued our institutions for a long time.

“There is a need for innovative mechanisms to address the problem of vacancies on a long-term basis,” Mukherjee said, adding that 70 per cent vacancies in central universities have been filled.

He made the comments during the concluding day of the Visitor’s Conference at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

Figures provided at the conference indicated the vacancies had reduced only marginally, from 39 per cent in 2014 to 36 per cent in 2016.

He said the Visitor’s Conference provided a platform for central institutions in diverse fields like agriculture, pharmaceuticals and humanities to join institutions of technology, engineering, science and IT in deliberations.

“Participation by all institutions in the National Institutional Rankings Framework (NIRF) will help create a spirit of healthy competition, eventually reflecting in our approach to international rankings. A successful implementation of ‘Project Vishwajeet’ could see seven to 10 Indian institutions in the top 100 in the near future.”

He said that while the government will have to find a major part of funds required, we should also look at other funding mechanisms like alumni and corporate sector support.

“It can come in the form of endowments, sponsored research and creation of joint and shared research facilities,” said the President.

Among the dignitaries present at the concluding session of the Visitor’s Conference were Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, HRD Minister of State Mahendra Nath Pandey and senior officers of Rashtrapati Bhavan and the government of India.