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Multi-disciplinary focus in education key to growth and progress: Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, India

Nov 18, 2022

NEW DELHI. 18 November 2022: Addressing a session on "Exploring New Frontiers of Partnerships & Networks" at the FICCI Higher Education Summit 2022Mr Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, Government of India said, if India has to grow at a rapid pace, we will need to produce quality people to transform on the ground. 

He said: "a huge emphasis will have to be laid on R&D, on converging and integrating with industry." However, he added, "there is a huge shortage of skilled manpower."  

Mr Kant said that a lot of work is needed to sync with the current realities. "curricula are designed without interacting with industry and startups and without realising the rapid pace the industry has moved forward." He added educational institutions need to reorient themselves to the requirements of India for the next decade. 

He noted multidisciplinary education as a vital requirement, adding, "the world has moved towards a multidisciplinary approach, and therefore bringing in multi-disciplinary focus in education will really be the key to the growth and progress of India." 

On occasion, Prof. Agnes Nairn, Pro Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement, University of Bristol, said for the UK, India is the number one country for academic collaboration for the UK. She cited two reasons, the first being BREXIT. "We are now looking beyond the UK for partnerships," she said. The second is the new education policy in India that "has made it a very favourable place for us to come and do business."  

Prof Nairn spoke about the three areas of collaboration: education, research, and industry collaboration, and said, "I would hope that together in partnership, we could have a genuinely international education, research and collaboration with our industries on both sides."

Dr Brigid Freeman, Senior Researcher (Education), Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne, remarked partnerships and networks are vitally important. "We look forward to expanding internship opportunities and international research collaborations." She added that Australia's international education experience highlights a need to focus on migration policy settings, eligibility criteria and pathways to ensure quality education for inbound and domestic students. 

Dr Kiran G. R., Vice President, Obreal Global and Dean, Middle East College, said digital transformation had put pressure on higher education institutions today. "You can imagine a situation where all the skills and competencies that students can acquire even from outside the university system", he said. "Universities have to take care of the digital transformation within the universities and also respond to the digital transformation across. It is possible already if we can work together and partner with institutions across the world and industry," he added. 

Dr. (Lt General) Rajan S. Grewal, Vice Chancellor, Sikkim Manipal University, shared that new rules on twinning programmes, dual and joint degrees will make it easier for the Indian student to cross-pollinate with foreign institutions to receive course credits and receive degrees branded by Indian and foreign institutions. 

Dr Nandita Abraham, Chief Partnership Officer, Global University Systems (GUS India), suggested starting a conversation with the industry not just on internships and placements, but about doing research and joint projects. She underscored "having collaboration champions" in both academia and the industry. 

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