According to latest data published in the Open Doors report of the US-based Institute of International Education for year 2017-18, the number of students from India signing up with American universities declined by 8.8 percent in that year. Although the Indian cohort in American universities is still very large at 211,000, this could be the start of a declining trend influenced by several excellent privately promoted colleges and universities flowering across India.
This is particularly a good time for school-leavers intent upon studying the liberal arts and humanities at the undergrad level. Although students keen on studying engineering and medicine have had access to a substantial number of excellent government and private colleges and universities in India, acceptable quality liberal arts and humanities education has always been hard to find. No indigenous university can credibly claim to provide liberal arts education remotely comparable with the well-rounded, holistic syllabuses and curriculums of the renowned Ivy league institutions of America and colleges of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK. Truth to tell, the liberal arts and science education offered by India’s vintage public universities suffers in comparison with the fare provided even by second rung universities in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.
In EducationWorld, your editors are always excited by news of aspirationally world-class institutions of education — especially in higher learning — assuming shape and form anywhere in the country, not least because they provide valuable lessons in institution building. In 2015, we featured a detailed cover story on the greenfield, crowd funded, privately-promoted, liberal arts Ashoka University, Sonipat. Last January we featured the successful law and liberal arts O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU). And our first cover story of 2020 is a narrative detailing the smooth launch of Krea University, peninsular India’s first globally benchmarked, interwoven liberal arts and sciences varsity promoted under its “collective philanthropy model”.
In this first issue of the second decade of the 21st century, we present a comprehensive story on the evolution and successful take-off of Krea University. I believe it could serve as a primer for public spirited citizens aspiring to establish new universities built to last over 500 years, the stated objective of Krea’s visionary founder vice chancellor Dr. Sunder Ramaswamy.
Our second lead feature on the unlikely, but welcome emergence of the eastern seaboard state of Odisha (pop. 45 million) as an epicentre of skills, aka vocational, education and training (VET) is arguably as important an evolution as the smooth launch of Krea University in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. It provides a classic case study of how an enabling political leader (three-term chief minister Naveen Patnaik), and a visionary entrepreneur (Subroto Bagchi) co-operated to leapfrog the hitherto off-the-map, industrially backward Odisha into a leader VET state.
Happy New Year!