Higher educational institutions’ rankings belie India’s economic prowess: President

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Observing that the global ranking of higher educational institutions belie India’s economic prowess, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday called for adopting “strategic vision aided by concerted effort” for the institutions in their bid to be in the global top 100.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Visitor’s Conference at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, Mukherjee also lamented lowly job-creation and called for a paradigm shift in skill-imparting.

“India today occupies an envious position of being the fastest growing economy amongst the major economies of the world. However, the global rankings of our higher educational institutions belie our economic prowess,” said Mukherjee.

“We must aim to have many of our institutions within the top hundred in the near future. And for that, we need a strategic vision aided by concerted effort,” said the President.

Observing that lack of employment can spell disaster, he said adequate job creation was a priority.

“The job creation figures of 1.35 lakh in 2015, which is the lowest in seven years, are not encouraging,” Mukherjee said.

“With machines fast replacing men, we have to look at a paradigm shift. We have to prepare our youth, to turn into entrepreneurs. We also have to enable our students-turned innovators- turned entrepreneurs to be able to successfully harness the market,” he added.

He launched the Student Startup Policy of AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) and said the policy had the potential to “unleash the entrepreneurial talent of our students of institutions of higher learning”.

“With adequate thrust on internationalisation of our institutions, we can develop ‘brain networks’. Distance learning programmes, particularly MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), can enhance virtual mobility while cross-country collaborations can result in a vortex of ideas and outcomes,” he said.

He also said central institution’s fund requirements must be supplemented by other sources such as endowments and contracts for research projects from industry.

“More emphasis must be laid on high ambition contracts like collaborative R&D, commissioning of research projects, and allowing the use of R&D infrastructure like laboratories, incubators and parks,” the President noted.

Pointing to incidences of student unrest in recent past, Mukherjee said the vice-chancellors and directors must deal with any unpleasant situation with sagacity.