Santosh K Choubey the Chancellor of AISECT University—a higher education institution with a focus on skill development and research—speaks to Elets News Network (ENN) on the Indian Government’s policies on education, Dubai education scenario, AISECT University’s readiness for the changing times, collaborations with international institutions and more
With the changing education paradigms, how has the AISECT University adapted to the evolving times?
The AISECT University (AU) is a progressive higher education institution. Our effort is to excel in skill development and research in addition to formal education. That is why we have introduced compulsory skill courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, thereby making AU India’s first skillsbased university. Eight departments of the University have opened multiskill academies in partnership with NSDC, where over 30 skill courses are offered with an aim to create a cadre of professionals, who are industry- ready the moment they pass out from the University.
Research is another focus area for us. We have collaboration with several research centres and universities in India as well as abroad for conducting research in Renewable Energy, Material Science and Environmental Science. We also organise entrepreneur development programmes to encourage students to think in terms of starting their own enterprise. Students are motivated to go beyond classrooms and take up serious social activities. Therefore, we have adopted three nearby villages where students organise various programmes to educate people about social betterment, education, health and other vital issues. Our quest is to develop as a skill university with best research environment to produce excellent professionals with good social values.
How do you see the policy initiatives undertaken by the Government for making higher education reach the masses?
The Government has taken several steps in the right direction, like opening its universities to reach the unreached, establishing private universities in most states, introducing educational scholarships and loans for those who are unable to afford higher education, and the upcoming Government MOOCs platform ‘Swayam’ as well as encouraging higher education institutions to adopt technology in order to reach a larger segment of the population.
However, the Government needs to take some measures to encourage private participation in higher education in the non-metro areas. The norms for opening a university campus in Tier II and III cities have to be more transparent and clearer, and availability of land for setting up private universities should be made easier. Moreover, higher education in local languages should be promoted in a big way, as it will break a lot of barriers. Also, national open universities and state open universities should focus primarily on the rural and remote areas.
“Dubai is an international hub with around 80 per cent of the population comprising non- Emiratis. This allows students studying in Dubai to interact with people from diverse nationalities and learn about the businesses and cultural practices of various countries”
How is Dubai education landscape relevant to the growth plans of the AISECT University?
We are eager to explore the possibility of setting up a campus in Dubai in order to cater to the Indian diaspora residing in the Middle East. Moreover, we specialise in ICT and skills-based education. Our endeavour is to impart formal education in such a manner that students simultaneously gain knowledge and skills for a holistic educational experience which would enable them to address the industry’s need for skilled workforce as soon as they graduate. After years of experience in promoting this mode of learning across India, we would like to bring our specialised mode of education to Dubai as well.
What are the learnings from the education scenario in Dubai that the AISECT University would like to adopt?
Dubai is an international hub with around 80 per cent of the population comprising non-Emiratis. This allows students studying in Dubai to interact with people from diverse nationalities and learn about the businesses and cultural practices of various countries. We would like to bring a similar cultural experience to our University. Though we already have some international students studying at AU, we would like to see an increase in the number of international students coming to our campus. To ensure a greater experience for such students, AU offers excellent facilities in place, including a large number of technical labs, state-of-the-art hostels, antiragging and anti-sexual harassment cells and much more. However, there is always a scope for improvement and we would like to closely observe and learn from the facilities being provided to international students in Dubai and apply some of those practices in AU as well.
Are there any global collaborations that the AISECT University is looking forward to in the coming times?
AU already has international tieups, wherein we offer educational exchange, cultural exchange and research programmes in collaboration with universities like the University of Siegen (Germany), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA), KAIST (South Korea), ICA (Nepal), ICE WaRM (Australia), KYIV University (Ukraine) and NCTU (Taiwan). The University also has a research project in collaboration with Taiwan and IITDelhi for developing efficient material for solar cell to increase efficiency by 100 per cent. There is a project with Ukraine on earthquake prediction. In March 2016, we are holding an International Conference on Climate, Water, Environment and Energy in which more than 20 countries are participating with around 300 research papers. We will be happy to explore further international collaborations for the benefit of our students.