A senior delegation from Punjab Technical University (PTU) and its affiliated colleges are currently on a two week-long visit to the USA and Canada to forge research and educational collaborations between India and North America universities.
These collaborations will be focused on delivering results for a defined set of problems, for the larger benefit of communities in India, USA and Canada. The first important step for the delegation was the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Conference 2013 held in Chicago, Illinois, USA from October 20-22, 2013, attended by 250 deans from 47 countries.
In the keynote address at the Conference, PTU explained the limitation when it comes to flow of students from developing countries to developed nations. Every year around 100,000 students move out from India to USA. Along with the ‘brain drain' it exploits parents financially, often leading to hardships.
There are only a few financially able citizens who can afford to spend on higher education abroad. While on the other hand, as a survey points out, nearly 85% of engineers trained in India are unemployed. This crisis can be turned into an opportunity that's far greater than 100,000 students trickling to USA.
Nearly 1.5 million students from India and neighboring countries can be trained in India if one finds ways to deliver North American standard education at under US$ 10,000 per year. This will prompt US and Canada to start new education ventures in India. Simple math adds up to US$ 15 billion - the size of market opportunity for North American Universities.
At the GEDC Conference, PTU suggested for collaboration in research, the research work could be broken into smaller components with some parts like recording observations, tabulation and compilation being done in India. PTU has nearly 2,00,000 students, good physical infrastructure and financial autonomy, but there are a few more elements that need to be put in place, and the delegation hopes to achieve some of them through partnerships with leading technical universities in North America.
According to Dr. Rajneesh Arora, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Technical University (PTU), "Now the state of Punjab is poised to become the gateway to international universities. There is active support from all decision makers in Punjab to convert the state into a destination for higher education. Punjab can break the logjam and invite global Universities to look beyond IITs and big cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru."
"USA has become a global hub of higher education because of knowledge creation and dissemination. Leading institutions create knowledge and disseminate the same by attracting learners to their premise or by exporting knowledge. USA has had a flow of learners because it has created an ecosystem - infrastructure, better living standards, safety and security. Lately, India is being accepted as credible provider of education", he said
"Creating cutting-edge knowledge may take some time and can happen in parallel, but we can disseminate the knowledge created abroad by putting in the ecosystem. Another route for dissemination of knowledge and its export thereof, even to remote places, is through distance learning technology platform. If this ‘export' is taken to its logical extent, India will soon become the global hub for distance education first - starting with neighboring and emerging countries and then moving to the West", he explained.
"The last Economic Survey of India (2011) stressed the need for turning the country into a global hub of higher education and Punjab, leveraging on support from Government as well as private sector and the distinct cost advantages it has on offer as compared to developed countries, is headed in the same direction", he added. [sic]