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We Need Higher Level Of Education In Terms Of Both Access And Quality To Be Delivered: Raghav Gupta, Coursera

BW Education and Primus Partners presented a webinar on 'Wednesday Wisdom: University Of The Future'.

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There has been a paradigm shift in the education sector due to the global pandemic. The teaching-learning process has transformed from the conventional chalk and duster mode to the online mode in the form of virtual classrooms. The role of technology has grown exponentially.

At a webinar on 'Wednesday Wisdom: University Of The Future', presented by BW Education and Primus Partners, Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, All India Council For Technical Education (AICTE) said that before talking about the universities of the future, we should understand the past and the present of universities. In the past, right from the ancient times, maybe thousands of years ago, there was a system of education which was Gurukul system followed by Takshila, Nalanda, which we are proud of, to the present-day education which was inherited from the British era and now we have about a thousand universities in our country and there are many who aspire to be in the global top we have a lot of challenges. But when we look at the future of universities, there are a couple of things which we should remember that is to be changed but certain things will remain constant and that is what we should understand before going to the future of universities.

“During this COVID time, due to the lockdown, we learnt many things which we were not practising, which were possible but we didn’t do it. For example – online education was not a key thing, we were always in the face-to-face mode, most of the time, except that the creation of Swayam Portal, books portal where more than 2,500 courses have been on-boarded, more than 1 crore students are watching them, 147 countries are using this but despite all this, despite UGC and AICTE making regulation that 50 per cent of the course work can be had from the Swayam programme and then credited to the account in your universities, very few universities have taken this forward. So, there are challenges of varieties of kinds. But nevertheless, during the last couple of months, when we were all in lockdown, there was no choice left for most of the universities but to transform themselves into online education. Those who were well prepared, they had a very smooth transition,” he added.

Other speakers in the webinar were: Dr Pankaj Mittal, Secretary-General, Association of Indian Universities & Former Additional Secretary, UGC, Ministry of HRD, Govt of India; Dr S S Mantha, Former Chairman, AICTE & Chancellor, K L University; Prof Anup K Singh, Director General, Nirma University and Raghav Gupta, MD - India and APAC, Coursera, Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld & exchange4media Group (Chair) and Charu Malhotra, Co-Founder & MD, Primus Partners India (Co-Chair).

Raghav Gupta highlighted that the most important thing which COVID-19 is telling us is that we will need a higher level of education in terms of both access and quality to be delivered in the country. “When the situation starts to stabilize and normalize, we will definitely not be at 100 per cent online. The question will be whether we will go back to 20 per cent continuing to stay online and what that 20 per cent can contribute?”

While discussing the universities of the future, Dr C Raj Kumar said that when a crisis of this kind happens, we do have a tendency to think that the future will be so fundamentally different from what it is today. So, while we are facing a global pandemic and do think that there will be certain things different from what it is today, there will be a lot more thing which will remain same even in the future. And so, the most important task of what a university does will remain intact. A most significant part of what a university does is to provide an inspiring ecosystem of learning for young people and that would not change. Secondly, it should be a harbinger of ideas through faculty members pursuing teaching and research and that will not change.

“What will change is a stronger emphasis on technology in multiple forms whereby the methods and delivery of education will go through a dramatic transformation which is already happening. There is a big challenge in our country. When we look at the data, only 8 per cent of Indian households have a situation where there is both internet and computer together with electricity. So, the biggest thing that we should do is a substantial investment in physical infrastructure in the form of electricity availability and internet availability are across rural and urban India.”