India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 18, 2009
We started our day by visiting the Indian Institute of Technology which is known as “a dream destination” for Indians wanting degrees in science and technology. IIT was established by an act of Parliament and, as such, is a national university. It has a number of centers of excellence that include Rural Development and Technology as well as Value Education in Engineering. Over 450 faculty teach 5,300 students of which 2,500 are seeking bachelor’s degrees. The rest are seeking advanced degrees. IIT is the “gold standard” in India for engineering degrees. Most students who receive bachelor’s degrees from IIT go to US institutions for advanced degrees. IIT receives money not only from the government but also from international companies such as Sun Systems. Undergraduates are required to do internships during the break between their third and fourth years and many do undergraduate research.
We then went to Indira Ghandi National Open Univeristy, an institution of higher education designed to “reach the unreachable.” This institution is fairly new, having been established in 1985. Currently, they teach over 1.85 million students in 193 degree programs! They do this via a central system with core faculty who develop the curriculum and a cadre of adjunct faculty at regional centers. The adjuncts are typically faculty at other institutions (as they said, face-to-face institutions). IGNOU has a media development center that is used to create materials for instructors at regional centers. IGNOU also has over 4,500 “international students” who take courses. These international students are based in places such as Africa and the Middle East.
Finally, our last stop was Amity University, a private university founded in the late 1990’s. AU’s philosophy is to give their students a “holistic development, values and ethics, and skills for nation building.” The campus in Uttar Pradesh, just outside Delhi, is only three years old. Students at AU are required to take a foreign language, get trained in communication skills, have access to sport facilities (sound mind sound body), and take a one week adventure and millitary training course. AU has over 60,000 in two universities but only about 14,000 at the UP campus. The campus feels very western and more students are dressed in western clothes than at the other institutions we visited. We were treated particularly well at AU and were greeted with flowers. The administration and faculty at AU are eager to build relationships with US institutions of higher education. They gave us many gifts so that we won’t forget them!
Tomorrow we travel to Mumbia!
Other thoughts now that I have been in India for three days. I have seen slums next to buildings being constructed, including on several of the campuses we visited. I have seen cows in the median strip in busy Delhi. I have seen street kids doing tricks in order to get money. I have seen many, many stray dogs lounging on campuses, in parks, and on the side walk. I have seen desperately poor people next to very wealthy people. I have seen dust, mosquitoes, and trash, but I have also interacted with many, many warm and friendly people. India is truly a country of contrasts.