India to soon have navratna universities: Sibal
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Last Updated: Monday, January 03, 2011, 14:00
Chennai: India will soon have 'Navratna' Universities on the lines of the famous Ivy League varsities, which will be "free them from the shackles of government control," Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said Monday.

In his keynote address at the 98th Indian Science Congress at SRM University near here, Sibal said that this would be achieved by measures including generous financial support and access to external funding.

"We are working on the concept of having Navratna Universities or an Indian Ivy League.We intend to nurture these select universities, like the public sector navratnas, by generous financial support, freedom in accessing external funding and total autonomy so as to free them from the shackles of government control," he said speaking on the topic 'Quality Education and Excellence in Science Research in Indian Universities.

The eight Ivy League institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. He said such an initiative would be useful in achieving the challenge of developing human and social capital that will enable youth to work and compete globally.

"In regard to our existing navratnas-the IITs and IIMs--we are according full powers to their Boards to create posts within the approved norms, top up the salaries of the Directors and Faculty from the funds generated by them, open centres in India and abroad, amend rules within the framework of their Memorandums of Association and Rules, acquire and dispose property and manage funds generated on their own," he said.

With this autonomy, the government sought to build accountability and the Director and the Board would prepare annual action plans and monitorable key performance indicators at each level, he said.

With India moving towards being an "affluent society" there was a need to tackle much more aggressively the structural inequities, especially in education front, he said.

The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) was a 'mere' 15 per cent, Sibal noted, adding changing labour markets and demographics are driving a "new" demand for higher education.

"This has come mainly from two groups that traditionally were not known to attend universities: a rising lower middle class and women. These sources will continue to fuel the demand for higher education and will be fighting for more places for quality education. This will necessitate many more universities and colleges to be opened in the years to come. Most estimates project a minimum doubling over the next decade," he said.

The government's goal was to double the GER by 2020, and this will entail massive capacity building, both institutional as well as human, Sibal said.


First Published: Monday, January 03, 2011, 14:00

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