India News – December 2008

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DU joins international consortium for higher education

Delhi University has joined the Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window Lot 15 (EMECW15), designed to fund higher education, student and teaching staff mobility activities between 12 European universities and eight Indian universities. The consortium aims to create a partnership for research and development to strengthen academic cooperation between India and the European Union (EU).

Topics that will be included in the education and research collaboration include agriculture, food processing, climate change, energy, environment, information and communication technology (ICT), biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Under the scheme, a total of 301 scholarships (94 for Undergraduate students, 107 for Masters students, 80 for PhD students, 41 for Post Doctoral fellows and 80 for academic staff) will be offered to Indian students.
Recruiters line up at IIM-A defying global slowdown Contrary to widespread speculation about the impact of the global economic crisis on placements at IIM-A, the campus saw major recruiters from previous years reaffirming their commitment to select talent at a time when most firms are cautious about hiring. Close to 300 PGP students were eligible for summer placements this season due to a considerable increase in batch size.

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The first day of placements saw major global banks and consulting firms on campus including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Rothschild and UBS among others.  As informed by the IIM-A director, Sameer Barua, all the students of PGPM programme were placed.

Ministry, JNU tie-up for migration and diaspora research

Union Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has signed an agreement with the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, to work on a project for ‘International migration and diaspora research’ at its Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies. Economics Professor Binod Khadria, a reputed scholar in the field of international migration, will head the research project.

The project will primarily focus on the complex links between social, economic, political, cultural and educational aspects of globalisation and migration. Apart from interfacing with the Union Ministry, the project also envisages international collaboration with globally renowned organisations in the field of international migration.

Ambedkar University launches its first academic programme

Newly set-up Ambedkar University, Delhi, has launched its first academic programme, a post-graduate diploma in Development Studies. The programme has been developed in collaboration with the Council for Social Development and is aimed at preparing development professionals with social concerns.

The diploma will give placement possibilities in development organisations, government bodies, banks, international agencies, corporate firms and teaching and research institutions. Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree from any recognised university with minimum 50% marks are eligible to apply for the course. Admission to the course will be on the basis of a written exam and interview.

IITs may soon be churning out doctors, historians

Graduation day at the Indian Institutes of Technology may soon see doctors, historians and perhaps policy makers too stepping out of their portals. In the coming years, the IIT palette will have on offer a range of shades beyond the cut-and-dry coding courses. The XIth five-year committee for higher education, headed by educationist Yash Pal,  is working with them to see how the tech schools can change their character and, like American universities, enlarge
their menu.

While the IITs will be given more oxygen in terms of starting courses of their choice, it’s difficult to predict whether the new subjects offered will compare in excellence with the engineering departments, or be relegated to the sidelines, like the IITs’ management schools. However, Prof Yash Pal said, ‘All great universities around the world offer a range of undergraduate courses. Our IITs can’t be great unless they think in that direction.’

Right to Education Bill cleared by Cabinet

In a move expected to give a much needed boost to the education sector, the Union Cabinet has cleared the Right to Education Bill that makes free and compulsory education a fundamental right for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. It will now soon be tabled in Parliament for approval.

Key provisions of the Bill include: 25% reservation in private schools for disadvantaged children from the neighbourhood, at the entry level. The government will reimburse expenditure incurred by schools; no donation or capitation fee on admission; and no interviewing the child or parents as part of the screening process. The Bill also prohibits physical punishment, expulsion or detention of a child, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes other than census or election duty and disaster relief. Running a school without recognition will also attract penal action.

Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation launches Digital literacy drive

The Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation has launched a digital literacy drive, under which a network is proposed to be set up throughout the State beginning with district and sub-divisional headquarters and going down to villages with a population of 2,500 and above. The Corporation has signed agreements with ten computer-based industries as programme support agencies for working with the 1,000 IT ‘Gyan Kendras’ (knowledge centres) to be established across the State for evolving an institutional mechanism to develop the trained youth manpower with basic IT skills.

Chairman M L Mehta said that the project would help the youths in getting direct and indirect employment, besides bridging the digital divide and fulfilling the manpower needs of a thriving software product business.

Gujarat may get 400 more medical seats

In a landmark decision that will impact medical education all over the country, Union Health Ministry gave its  nod for split campuses to start medical colleges with existing hospitals. In Gujarat, this decision may lead to nearly 400 more medical seats being available to students in the near future.

‘The split campus proposal has been cleared. It is good news for Gujarati students,’ state representative Medical Council of India (MCI) Dr Haresh Bhalodiya said. Gujarat and Maharashtra governments had written to MCI three years back to split the campus so that good hospitals in the cities were able to offer medical education as well. The MCI cleared the proposal recently, which allows a 25 acre campus to be split into two campuses of 15 acres and 10 acres respectively.

Online entrance test for pilots soon

According to a new system proposed by the Civil Aviation Ministry, the qualifying examination for becoming a commercial pilot will soon be made online, on the lines of TOEFL and GRE. Even the required medical tests could be conducted by private healthcare companies such as Fortis and Max. The new system would reduce the registration and examination processes by a few days unlike the prevailing practice which takes over four to five months.

The Ministry has already initiated the process of setting up computerised examination centres in the national capital for the prospective aviators. It expects to conduct first online test by the end of the year. The same system is also expected to be extended for private pilot licence (PPL) as well in the second phase.

At IGNOU you can now choose your exam date

In a revolutionary step, nearly two million students pursuing education in the Indira Gandhi National Open University across India and abroad will soon be able to choose their examination date. ‘Walk-in-examination would give learners the liberty to decide the dates of exams as per their own suitability and convenience, thus lowering the exam pressure on them,’ IGNOU spokesman Ravi Mohan said.

Under the scheme, students, instead of waiting for the six-monthly term end examination, could simply walk into any identified test centres of the university. The results would be processed on a monthly basis. The flexible examination pattern also reduces the possibility of malpractices, as each student will get a different set of question papers. Registration of students, allotment of the dates and
the issue of hall ticket to the examinees for the walk-in examination would be done online.

Foreign universities seek partnerships in India

Foreign universities are increasingly seeking partnerships with Indian universities, specifically institutes of higher learning and research, with a view to expand their programmes and outreach, a FICCI-Ernst & Young study has said. Recently, during Belgian King Albert II’s visit, IIM-Ahmedabad signed a contract with the Universite’ libre de Bruxelles for cooperation in micro-finance research. A large delegation from the University of Cologne, Germany also paid a visit to India seeking partnerships with major universities.

Keeping in view the prevailing situation, the study said, ‘Despite government initiatives, there exists a significant gap in the demand for higher education and the supply of infrastructure facilities. The government needs to step not only through improvised regulatory framework but through public-private partnership (PPP).

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