Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra on 'The Role of the Universities in a Changing World.'

Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Chancellor of Shobhit University shared his views on 'The Role of the Universities in a Changing World' during 2nd Higher Education Conclave organised by Business World Education in New Delhi.
By: Shobhit University
 
 
Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra at BW Conclave
Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra at BW Conclave
 
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NEW DELHI - March 15, 2018 - PRLog -- As the pace and complexity of our global society increases exponentially, there is an urgent need to realign the design and infrastructure of education with the needs of the people our educational systems are intended to serve. While universities have long been vital and powerful drivers of global innovation and economic development, they must now be willing to break free from outmoded paradigms if they hope to continue achieving meaningful progress.

Recently, I was reading a book "Teacher and Child." I will like to quote the words of the author Dr Haim Ginott here-

"I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education.

My request is:

Help your children become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human."

I am afraid that today the same is happening at many places. When we see thousands of poor farmers on the road struggling for livelihood, the existence and role of our universities, research labs become questionable.  Universities must enrich the local ecosystem and human and community well-being.

We need to ensure that Universities nurture the hopes of the world: in solving challenges that cross borders; in unlocking and harnessing new knowledge; in building cultural and political understanding; and in modeling environments that promote dialogue and debate.

Higher education in India is undergoing considerable change. With over 600 million people in India under 25 years old, the system is under tremendous pressure to expand. We require a robust higher education sector to supply the needed energy, food, health care, jobs and growth.

In today's higher education world we see a shift in teaching and educational trends that are slowly materializing due to the advent of new technologies, new academic frameworks and the need to adapt to society's incremental advancements. The implementation of reforms, however, did not have the desired outcome since those were applied to an education system that currently still mimics the century old british system. There is the need for blue-ocean creating, disruptive innovations that can be sustained in new business models, which can holistically cater for education while rejecting past traditional higher education structures.

The Indian universities need access to additional flexibility and resources to provide the necessary academic content, course delivery and infrastructure support. Institutions need this flexibility to pursue innovative approaches that can set them apart from each other and be their best on the world stage.

Moving away from the current one-size-fits-all approach could also provide prospective students, academics, industry and research partners' greater opportunity, competition and choice in the education options available in India. And that will automatically enhance the employment opportunities.

I will like to quote the following observations and examples as a means of facilitating discussion about the role of universities in our global development community:

1. Universities are neutral conveners, assemblers of talent, and unmatched idea factories where the passion, creativity, and idealism of great minds, young and old alike, can be applied to problem-solving and advancing our societal and economic well-being.

2. Contemporary universities have a responsibility to transcend traditional disciplinary limitations in pursuit of intellectual fusion, and develop a culture of academic enterprise and knowledge entrepreneurship. They must also be prepared to begin delivering higher education at scale – in a manner that bestows status upon universities based upon the outcomes they achieve and their breadth of impact rather than the exclusivity and quality of their incoming freshman class.

3. It is imperative that universities be socially embedded, thereby fostering development through direct engagement. Universities must work creatively and be willing to take risks to become even greater forces of societal transformation.

4. Universities need to foster student success by becoming student-centric – rather than faculty-centric. Successful universities will be those capable of being nimble, anticipatory, imaginative and reactive. They must provide unique environments that prepare students to be "master thinkers" able to grasp a wide array of skills and comprise the most adaptable workforce the world has ever known.

5. Only through the proliferation of networks between like-minded alliances can transformation occur at the scale that is immediately needed in order to advance our present global knowledge economy. Our communities must open their eyes to this imminent future and transform their thinking to see universities, not as self-indulgent "people factories," but as valuable idea generators with vast influence and the potential to manifest technologies and concepts that can change lives the world over.

The old way was to conquer but the new way is to cooperate and create. A great educational revolution is needed for the survival of coming generations. Please remember that the educationists are the most important people for the survival of humanity.

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