EDGE 2011:

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Inaugurated for the period of three days (9-11th March 2011), at Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi, the Edge Forum came up with agenda to shape the future of youth with Higher Education

By Pragya Gupta

Started in 2007, EDGE conference is taking its legacy forward year on year by taking Higher Education to next level of intensification.

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To speak on ‘Shaping the Future of Indian Higher Education’ EDGE 2011 conference brought together a constellation of stars including Vice-Chancellors, Presidents, Directors, Professors, Education Councils, Entrepreneurs, policy makers and Union ministers to interact, collaborate and understand the prevailing trends in the Higher Education sector.

Inaugurating the conference, Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for HRD and Communications and Information Technology, Govt of India said, “India is poised to become the ‘centre of gravity in global Higher Education. We are at the cusp of next revolution in education in India and more investment in Higher Education is the only way forward. Financing education is a government commitment and our national duty with no strings attached. What we need is a change of mindset among all stakeholders in the Higher Education sector. We must also ensure that the profession of teaching gets highest priority.”

Dignitaries present during inauguration are Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha,  Prof C.N.R. Rao, Chairman, Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister, National Research Professor and Linus Pauling Research Professor and Honorary President, JNCASR, Bangalore, Dr Ayoub Kazim, MD, Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City, Prof Bertil Andersson, Provost, Nanyang Technological University, Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman, Lavasa Corporation, Dr V.S. Ramamurthy, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU, Dr S.B. Mujumdar, Chancellor, Symbiosis International University.

Prof C.N.R. Rao, well-known educator, scientist and institution builder was honoured with the EDGE Education Personality of the Year Award to recognise his extraordinary and exemplary contribution to Higher Education sector. While receiving the award, Prof Rao focussing on the need and value of teacher-student interaction commented, “Absence of teacher or direct teaching totally based on ICT will not improve education standards in India. Thus our deliverables to the students must be unconditional.”

Madan Padaki, Co-Founder and CEO, MeritTrac Services Pvt. Ltd. has won Young EDGE Award 2011 for having demonstrated leadership in the education sector with significant contribution to the field of Higher Education.

As 40 million youths look for Higher Education by 2020 compared to 17 million currently, the sector needs to act now to fully exploit our demographic potential. Higher Education would need one million faculties to teach them and would need more than 504 universities that are present now. According to the estimates of Ernst and Young, the sector would require nine lakh crore in investments. Stakeholders in the sector need to explore various options to achieve the government set target of Gross Enrolment Ratio of 30 per cent by 2020 from the present 13.5 per cent.

S.B. Mujumdar, Chancellor, Symbiosis International University and Patron of EDGE Forum said, “The idea of EDGE conference is to connect good institutions and universities in India to collaborate and co-operate and find solutions for many challenges in our country. We intend to bridge the gap between government, colleges and universities which will speed up the process of expansion and inclusion in the Higher Education sector in India.”

Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU and Academic Programme Committee Chairman of EDGE 2011, said, “EDGE is the foremost platform for the stakeholders in Higher Education sector in India and the world to converge. Interactions at the platform will help us act together towards identified goals with a beneficial intent for the education sector.” The other stalwarts who addressed the conference include D. Purandeswari, Hon’ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Govt of India, Rajesh Ankushrao Tope, Hon’ble Minister for Higher and Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra, Dr Narendra Jadhav, Member, Planning Commission, Vibha Puri Das, Secretary (SE and HE), Dept. of Higher Education, Ministry of HRD, Govt of India, Amit Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Higher Education, MHRD, Govt of India; Marlene M. Johnson, Executive Director and CEO, NAFSA.

The conference has also covered various critical topics for the sector like International Partnerships, Future of Medical Education, Vocational Education, Education Infrastructure, Funding Education, Frontiers of New Assessments, ICT for Next Generation Learning Environments, Creativity in Higher Education, Medical Education and Education Policy Framework.

Four workshops were conducted covering diverse topics like “New Models of Admissions” by the College Board, USA; “Governance Issues in Educational Institutions” by IIM-Bangalore; “Making International Partnerships Work” by Symbiosis and “What it takes to be in Top 100?” by QS Apple.

More than 30 international institutions from USA, France, Singapore, Australia, Dubai and Canada are exploring partnerships with Indian Institutions. The workshop on “Governance Issues in Educational Institutions” has discussed various issues and solutions. The event also consists of EduExpo for Educational Institutions, Publishing Houses, IT Companies and other service providers.

Sessions on Education Infrastructure, Critical Aspects in nurturing International partnerships, Mainstreaming VET for Sustainable Growth, Funding Education in Emerging Market- discussing on various financing option available including mobilising alumni for funding, contingent loan mechanism for students and then sessions on Future of Medical Education, Developing Competence: The Role of Creativity in Higher Education discussed various important aspects of Higher Education.

Prof Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU & Kapil Sibal, HRD Minister, Govt of India

The final panel discussion on government policy frameworks to encourage, enrich and enhance the sector was driven by Oscar Fernandes, MP, Rajya Sabha, Dr Narendra Jadhav, Member of Planning Commission, Dr G. Viswanathan, Chancellor, VIT University, Amitabh Jhingan, Partner, Ernst and Young India and Anand Sudarshan, CEO and MD, Manipal Education.

VIT, State University of New York Binghamton Sign MoU

VIT University, Vellore, India has signed MoU into a formal academic and research cooperation with State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, USA during the Edge 2011 conference for 5 years with a provision for extension on mutual consent.

Through this co-operation both universities will work jointly on activities such as establishing joint research activities, joint supervision of Ph.D students, faculty exchanges, exchanging information of interest such as publications and project documents, student exchanges and collaborative delivery of degree programs.

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