Baddi: Expressing concern over the declining standards of higher education, President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday called for identifying at least one department in each university that could be made a centre of excellence.
“It’s possible to revive the lost glory of our higher education system and take at least a few of our universities into the global top league,” Mukherjee said while inaugurating the Maharaja Agrasen University at Kalujhanda, near here, in Solan district.
“But for that”, he said, “we have to make innovative changes in the way our institutes of higher learning are administered, and education in them rendered. We must allow adequate flexibility in different aspects of academic management.”
Advocating the need to instil a culture of excellence in students, he said every university should identify at least one department that could be made into a centre of excellence.
“The evolving demographic profile of India, with two-third of its population expected to be in the working age group by 2025, presents before us an opportunity for greater development,” the president said.
“This demographic dividend is for our taking, but for that, our youth must be qualified and trained to participate in national progress,” he added.
He said the country has adopted a strategy of high economic growth to mitigate poverty and ensure development by touching the lives of all citizens.
“Our economic progress will rely increasingly on the knowledge economy. It’s crucial that the knowledge-based sectors like information technology, bio-technology, architecture, management, accountancy and law are equipped with competent personnel.”
He said the investment in education was an investment in future, and that India has “expanded the higher education sector significantly”.
“The total number of students enrolled in this sector was 2.6 crore at the end of the 11th Plan period. This number is projected to increase to 3.6 crore at the end of the 12th Plan period,” he said.
Mukherjee also underlined the need for attracting private investment in education. “The private sector should be encouraged to play an important role in expanding higher education in our country.
“International experience shows private sector and alumni participation is behind the success of top universities like Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Even today, private institutions account for nearly 60 percent of the total enrolment in our country. But there is a need for better management,” he said.
The Maharaja Agrasen University has been established by the Maharaja Agrasen Technical Education Society.