Gautam Buddha University was established in 2008 to impart quality post graduate education and research in emerging disciplines of management, IT, biotechnology, etc, to the disadvantaged sections left out from the purview of higher education.
Vice Chancellor Prof R S Nirjar shares his views on issues close to the university and higher education at large.
What is the underlying vision of the Gautam Buddha University?
Gautam Buddha University seeks to provide world class education and research in emerging as well as conventional branches of disciplines. Our mission is to reach the weaker sections of the society to offer them opportunities to acquire high level competence, which in turn will ensure their vertical mobility.
We also endeavour to create a body of scholars, who will contribute to the needs of society and industry.
“Our mission is to reach the weaker sections of the society to offer them opportunities to acquire high level competence, which in turn will ensure their vertical mobility”
How do you ensure equal access to the socially disadvantaged groups?
Ensuring equal access to the disadvantaged sections is not that difficult for us as we already have systems in place for it. For example, in the entrance exams itself, the question papers are prepared considering various backgrounds of the student and their intelligence level. After all, we have to keep in mind that a student coming from rural area might not have the same standard of English as a student from the city. So the question papers are framed in a generic way and have a wider choice of questions. We believe that if a student is weak in some subject, it can be worked upon during the course of his studies in the University.
Additionally, we also provide financial assistance to students from weaker sections of society to pursue education.
In your opinion, what are the main challenges confronting India`s higher education system today?
There are three main challenges confronting our higher education system: (1) quality of education, (2) post graduate education and research, and (3) weak vocational education. Quality in education is important to curb heavy drain of India`s productive labour to the Western countries. We need to develop and improve our own industrial base, in manufacturing and other streams, so that our engineers and other technical professionals are absorbed in our country.
Secondly, we are absolutely lacking in post-graduate education and research. As such the number of research scholars have declined over the years. And our professionals, especially those working in IT sectors and MNCs, are not involved in high-end research but are on the lower end of the system. We can move up the ladder only, if we develop our educational base by boosting post-graduate education and research. And Gautam Buddha University is dedicated to providing world-class education and research.
Another main issue is our weak vocational education system. In India, we have a differential system. People, who acquire vocational education,especially at ITI levels, are not at an advantageous position as far as their vertical mobility is concerned. So we need to ensure that a person from vocational stream has a chance to enhance his or her qualification further. For example, in Canada, 80% of engineering graduates are from vocational streams. However, in a country as huge as India, you would not even find 84 students. So we need to strengthen our vocational system. Gautam Buddha University also plans to start vocational studies next academic year and will be the first institution to offer Ph.D. in vocational streams.
“The industries are nowadays creating lot of noise about the skill sets of our graduates as they do not want to own up their responsibility of providing human resource training”
What role do you think ICT can play in the higher education?
ICT is at the core of our very existence in GBU, and not just a branch. We have a wi-fi enabled campus, networked labs, etc. We also are starting a post-graduate course in ICT this session.
ICT is an undeniable part of our existence today. We cannot escape from it. All types of original research, be it decimal, differential calculus, medical research, etc, have originated in India, except for the industrial revolution which we missed out. But we cannot now afford to miss out on the ICT revolution, which is a revolution of micro against macro. Since India has a very good intellectual capital, we should be the torchbearers of this great technological revolution.
Recently there has been lot of talk on the industry readiness of our graduates. What are your views on it?
I have full faith in our graduates. The industries are nowadays creating lot of noise about the skill sets of our graduates as they do not want to own up their responsibility of providing human resource training. They want ready made workers who suit their needs. While universities bring out graduates who have the general conception and knowledge to fit into any industry.
How would you rate our higher education on the global scale?
One cannot say what is best and what is not. There are certain good things about our system, whereas there are some inadequacies as well. For example, having a system of affiliated colleges, needs to be pondered over. However, sudden changes are not good as there are historical reasons behind having a particular system.
On the whole, our education system is not bad as our graduates who work in US or UK are producing wonderful results. An Indian student often takes less time completing Ph.D. in a foreign university when compared to students of that country.
Moreover, our spending on higher education is minute, not even up to 6% of the GDP, when compared to other countries in Asia who spend around 15-20%. We also need to focus on research and vocational education if we want to improve our overall standing in the global arena.