Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Teaching and education of Engineering and Technology has become so boring. Consider that these fields are the ones that bring so much pleasure in our lives : form a crisp brown Toast to a Saas Bahu TV serial to artificial Knees. How can something which is so Human centered be so boring to teach or understand?
Admittedly there are exceptions. But the rule is to belt out principles, peppered with formulae, integrals and partial derivatives and then give problems to solve on paper. There is very little application of concepts to practical problems.
How then did we get the LED TV in our lives or Artificial knees for our old age?
Someone made an effort to push boundaries and apply concepts to imagination
Can that someone be anyone?
Are we as humans not equipped with the same brain, the same capacity to see and feel.
Can the education system encourage such outcomes rather than stifle them
I believe it can. If we make our education centric on problem solving, applying of concepts to real life and at the same time encouraging imagination, we can achieve that
That is what we plan to do at Glocal with labs which are designed and structured to bring in arouse the students imagination, curiosity and finding real life issues to apply concepts on in a new way.

Tina Seelig is an educator at Stanford. Her experiments with teaching Innovation and Entrepreneurship are well know. Here she talks about Creativity. Have  a look :

Aditya Bhatnagar

Why the dearth of research productivity in India?

What struck me at the Academy of Management conference at Boston last year, where I had been invited to chair a session, was how few Indian scholars were visible amongst the thousands of delegates. This made me ponder on why it is that in 2011 academics in China authored five times more research papers that in India, and also why it is that the relative impact of citations in India is half of the world average (world average: 1.0).
There could be several reasons for the dearth of research productivity in India, especially in the realm of management and the social sciences. Perhaps it is because enrollment in higher education has grown six times in the last 30 years, but faculty strength has grown only by four times (Higher education in India: FICCI report, 2012).
It could be because there is no publish or perish system in most higher education colleges and universities (Kumar & Israel, 2013), so whether one publishes or not is not directly linked to one's career progression. It could be because faculty do not get adequate financial incentives for publishing, or even that faculty are not provided with teaching assistance should they wish to publish.
Whatever the reasons, the Government of India is worried about the situation. According to the Goverdhan Mehta report: ᾿In terms of research publications, we seem not to be keeping pace with other emerging economies and account for less than 2 % of world publications in these areas of research. In terms of citations and impact factors, our standing needs to be considerably enhanced῀ (Mehta 2009 p 3).
The Report of the IIM Review Committee echoes this concern: "The IIMs have come in for criticism because they have lagged behind leading global business schools in publishing papers in internationally peer-reviewed management journals." (Bhargava 2008: 10).
We need to introspect on why our higher education system is not proving to be conducive enough for wheeling the oils of research productivity, as in other countries. Only when we take the bull by the horns can we begin to play catch-up on a global platform.

About Glocal University: a message from the President

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Nilanjan Banik

India figured second-last among 73 countries that participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment test conducted annually by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) secretariat. This does come as a nasty surprise to those who believed in the prowess of India's scientific and technological manpower. There are, however, three ways of looking at this. First, Indian students aren't smart, despite having access to quality teachers. Second, Indian students are actually smart, but because of want of access to quality education they aren't able to perform well. There is also a third possibility: There are both quality education institutes, and smart students in India. However, these smart students prefer to explore options outside India — for jobs, or for pursuing higher education — leaving the poorer quality students in India.


From the demand side, quality education translates into graduates who are employable and have adequate skills to deliver to the needs of corporate India. Be it doctors, engineers, or even MBA graduates, there is a dearth of quality professionals in India. This is precisely why every year corporates like Infosys (service), ITC (manufactured consumer items), Apollo (medical), and L&T (engineering), to name a few, are left with vacant seats, or prefer to recruit people with foreign degrees, rather than employ graduates from India. Yes, there are quality education institutes such as IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, etc. in India. However, the number of pass-outs from these institutes are either too few in number, or decide to go abroad for higher studies, or even take up work there.
From the supply side, quality of education would be seen in terms of contribution to research and development. This means — education institutes serving as an incubator for developing new technologies that can be of use to the entrepreneurs, to produce goods and services more efficiently. This becomes evident from the number of patents, and research articles, published from universities and colleges. Although there has been an increase in the number of patents applied and research articles published from India, it is far less compared with the more advanced economies.
It is to be noted, per-capita income of any country can be increased either by increase in labour force participation and/or because of technological breakthroughs. The growth performance of the newly industrialised economies in Asia, such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, is typically driven by designing curriculum, so that more people can be employed. This model of increasing growth by producing more employable graduates, implies that growth has taken place through increase in labour force participation. On the other hand, the growth process in the West is attributed to technological innovation.
India faces a dearth of both quality teachers and quality education institutes. At a time when deans of Indian origin at Ivy league business schools in the US are making national headlines, in India, the newly-opened IIMs and IITs are scouting for professors. In fact, these newly-opened institutes survive by hiring visiting professors from other institutes and universities in India.


A majority of the quality students regard education as they would any other commodity. Pursuing quality education comes with a cost. For example, many MBA students who take bank loans look at education as a return on their investment, that is, the jobs they are likely to get once they get their degree. In that way, most education institutes, especially the MBA ones, have now been transformed into sophisticated placement agencies. If the institutes cannot secure jobs, they are likely to get fewer students.
The preference for IITs and IIMs derives from the fact that the perceived returns from education in these institutes are highest here. Corporates come to IIMs and IITs, not by taking into consideration the patents and research articles published, but by being persuaded that the rigorous screening procedure in these institutes are assurance enough that quality students get in.
During a slowdown, the second-tier institutes provide more value for money for students and corporates. No matter what the business school teaches, the corporates have their own induction programme. During a slowdown, a corporate can hire students at a lower cost, compared with what it would have to offer to tier-1 graduates. Hence, in recent times, some of the IIMs faced difficulties, while second-rung business schools were able to achieve 100 per cent placement.
The other smaller group of quality students who are indeed passionate about pursuing, and not consuming education, typically leaves for the US, Australia or Western Europe, to pursue higher education. Recent evidence also suggests that because of want of adequate seats in medical colleges, students are actually going to the erstwhile Soviet Union, and even learning medicine in their local languages. Net result: India still loses out in terms of brain drain, because of adequate quality education facilities at home.


Government regulation in higher education hinders supply of quality education. It is all-pervading, whether in terms of determining fees to be charged, or foreign collaboration. When it requires around Rs 6 lakh per year to produce an engineer, and anything between Rs 10-12 lakh per year to produce a doctor, asking a private institute to charge state-determined fees is unreasonable. In this fashion, the privately funded universities cannot survive, leaving aside, hiring quality teachers.
What is however do-able is asking the privately-run institutes to give scholarships to the needy, meritorious students. In fact, most of the successful universities in the US are privately-run. Most of the business schools in China are thriving, and provide a better education because of their collaboration with Universities in the US and Canada — something that isn't possible in India. To open any private institute, no-objection certificates need to be taken from multiple sources, such as the State government, State universities, and government regulatory bodies (for example, UGC, AICTE, etc.), instead of having a single-window clearance mechanism in place.
The government will do better by putting a grievance redressal mechanism in place, where the universities can be tried, or their license cancelled in the event of false promises. In the event of healthy competition, bogus education institutes won't be able to survive. So, let the students decide. Hopefully, this will add to supply of quality education institutes, human capital, and help to sustain India's growth.