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‘Change Laws To Encourage Genuine Entrepreneurs’

Bennett University Chancellor Vineet Jain, in an email interview with BW Businessworld, says that the group’s decision to enter higher education was taken several years ago

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Vineet Jain

Bennett University Chancellor Vineet Jain, in an email interview with BW Businessworld’s Suman K. Jha, says that the group’s decision to enter higher education was taken several years ago.

Excerpts:

You’re one of the most respected media houses. How and when did you think of foraying into the education space?

We’ve been involved in education for a long time, both directly and indirectly — starting with the iconic Jnanpith awards for contributions to literature. In India, we pioneered Newspapers in Education or NIE, which promotes among schoolchildren a more well-rounded education through general knowledge and an understanding of news and current affairs. Teach India is a highly successful CSR initiative of ours to impart spoken English skills to underprivileged youth to enhance their employability. We also have Times Scholars, a programme to recognise and reward the brightest minds in the country. And, since 1990, we’ve run the Times School of Journalism. In 2014, we launched Times Pro to power our foray into vocational education. We took the decision to enter higher education several years ago; Bennett University represents the culmination of long and meticulous planning.

Some say education business is a money-spinner. Some say a corporate social responsibility...
This is a not-for-profit venture. Any surplus we make will be re-invested in the university in order to drive continuous improvement in academic standards and research output. However, I do not see anything wrong with education being for-profit so long as students are not exploited and strict ethical and academic standards are maintained.

How big is higher education an opportunity for the private sector?
The latest task force report of the HRD ministry shows that India needs more than 1,500 new universities to meet the growing demands and aspirations for higher education, while an EY study forecasts a requirement of about 1.3 lakh additional private schools by 2022. Government has a big role to play in education, but it has limited resources. Reputed groups in the private sector can fill the gap. Our laws need to be overhauled to encourage genuine entrepreneurs — not fly-by-night operators — to invest in schools, colleges and universities, and allow them to make a reasonable profit.

How important is technology in the classroom when you think of your education venture?
Technology is revolutionising the manner in which education is being structured and delivered. We have ensured that from day one Bennett University straddles teaching and research from top-quality faculty and gives students exposure to multi-disciplinary projects — all powered by academic partnerships with world-renowned institutions that are thought leaders in their respective areas. We have incorporated blended learning into our curriculum as well talks/lectures to be streamed into our classrooms from our global partners. Our emphasis is on making available the very best in education to our students.

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