Monday, Dec 22, 2003
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By K. Ramachandran
The meeting will also discuss ways to streamline procedures for admitting foreign students to Indian institutions, including the Madras and Anna Universities, whose representatives will participate in the gathering.
The Commission has unveiled its marketing programme under the banner `Promotion of Indian Higher Education Abroad' (Pihead).
One of the initial efforts being made is to encourage the Indian universities to participate in an exhibition, organised by the NAFSA (Association of International Educators), in May 2004 at Baltimore, United States. The exhibition will provide an opportunity for Indian educators to `market' the institutions and courses.
The Madras University Vice-Chancellor, S.P. Thyagarajan, a strong advocate of the export of Indian higher education, says the university has completed a baseline or concept paper on the issue.
"We are working on the methodology details. The Advisory Council of the university's proposed International Centre met on Friday. For starters, we want to put in place a single window system for receiving foreign students and facilitating their stay here."
He wants the UGC to unveil a methodology to simplify procedures for the entry of foreign students.
At present, they come individually and seek permission from the External Affairs Ministry later. "The UGC is trying to streamline it, evolving new guidelines, so that the universities could have a single window method of admitting foreign students."
The Madras University is taking initiative by signing memorandums of understanding with foreign universities to offer joint degree programmes, short-term training courses and consultancy, which can be expanded to cover researchers and teachers. Students can also be invited to come here for a short stay. The university can offer courses such as Indian classical and folk art and music, which other foreign institutions do not provide. Also, it can be a focal point of India-based studies in humanities and arts courses.
Short of staff
However, one aspect that worries the academicians is the lack of full complement of teaching faculty in all departments. Right now, there are over 150 vacancies in various departments and this number could grow in the coming years when senior professors retire.
Last month, the UGC's Vice Chairman, V.N. Rajasekaran Pillai, during a meeting with the Chief Secretary, highlighted the need to fill up vacancies for promoting higher education, especially in the context of initiatives such as Pihead.
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