Guwahati: A national conference of vice-chancellors organised by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) at the University of Science and Technology Meghalaya (USTM) got underway on Thursday.
Emphasising the need for transformative higher education through coordinated efforts of all stakeholders, former President of India Ram Nath Kovind urged universities in the country to have a global outlook.
“Our universities should try to make students capable citizens. Being at the top of the education system, universities should try to have a global perspective,” Kovind said after inaugurating the three-day conference.
“The AIU should play the role of an active stakeholder. Transformative higher education requires coordinated efforts by all the stakeholders,” he said, lauding the initiative of AIU and USTM for organising the conference.
Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister Bibek Debroy and Assam education minister Ranoj Pegu among other dignitaries graced the national conference on the inaugural day.
Besides over 500 vice-chancellors, directors of IITs, IISc, and NITs from India and abroad were present at the conference organised in collaboration with USTM.
Two books of AIU, namely the “University News,” edited by Rama Devi Pani, and the “Report on Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), were released by the dignitaries on the occasion.
Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by USTM Chancellor Mahbubul Hoque. Expressing gratitude to the former President of India and AIU, Hoque said, “We have a world-class mission. We will work collaboratively with different institutions. We believe that only by producing good human resources, the country will be empowered”.
Pankaj Mittal, secretary general, AIU highlighted the role of AIU and the objectives of the VC’s conference.
In the inaugural session, Assam education minister Ranoj Pegue emphasised employment generation for an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
Delivering the AIU Foundation Day lecture, Padma Shri Bibek Debroy said, “There must be a certain benchmark level of enrolment that is necessary for an institution of higher education to be viable.”
Referring to the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020, Debroy said we need to think of an exit policy for the institutions of higher education in India — not only for the students but also for the faculty and infrastructure, based on quality.
“The government’s limited resources are best spent on school education rather than on higher education. There should be professionally viable courses while the other courses could be subsidised. There is no reason on earth why Meghalaya can’t have a centre of excellence in this part of the country”, he added.
In the presidential address, Suranjan Das, president of AIU and VC, Jadavpur University, Kolkata said, “There needs to be a shift from informative curriculum to formative and transformative one.
He emphasised a participatory board of education. “The challenge now is to transform our higher education institutions from seats of teaching to seats of learning,” he said.
He further said that there has to be collaborative work between research institutions and society.
“The competition between foreign and Indian institutions should be on a level playing field,” he added.
After the inaugural session, an interface was held between the heads of apex bodies with international delegates where the speakers comprised Dr Abhay Jere, vice chairman, All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE); Dr RC Agrawal, deputy director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); Dr Ponmudiraj, advisor, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Prof. Bhola Thapa, Vice Chancellor, Kathmandu University, Nepal and Aditya Malkani, regional director, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
Prof. GD Sharma, Vice President, AIU and Vice-Chancellor, USTM delivered the vote of thanks at the end of the inaugural session.
This is for the first time in the Northeast that a prestigious academic event such as the VCs’ national conference is being hosted by a private university.
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The themes for sessions of the conference include: “Internationalisation: Modes of Engagement”; “Minimum Government: Maximum Governance: What Does It Mean for Universities”; “Promotion of Indian Languages”; “Reforms for Holistic Education”; “Creating an Ecosystem for Research and Excellence” and “Future of Education, Learning, and Workplace”.
Universities such as JNU, IGNOU, Symbiosis International, the University of Massachusetts, Bharti Vidyapith and the University of Hyderabad are taking part in the conference.
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