Industry, academia should work closely to find solutions to socio-economic issues: Andhra CM

New Delhi [India], Nov.10 (ANI): The three-day FICCI Higher Education Summit 2016, was kicked off here, with N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, urging industry to associate with academic institutions to find innovative solutions to issues that embrace the economy and society as the traditional approach to problem-solving in today's knowledge economy will not give the desired results.

The summit which includes a global conference and exhibition, is supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Services Export Promotion Council.

Inaugurating the 12th edition of the Summit on Thursday on the theme, 'Education for Tomorrow: Learn in India-Learn for the World', Naidu said the world is into the 4th industrial revolution which is characterized by technology and Internet of Things. Sensors, robotics and machine learning are the order of the day, making things happen real time. This scenario, he said, called for close analysis on what type of human resources we need to build to take on the new challenges.

India, Naidu said, was blessed with a demographic dividend that would last for another four to five decades. The energies of our young people need to be channelized into the study of mathematics and technology and IT where India has a strong advantage. Applied knowledge, he added, was critical in translating the learnings into benefits for society.

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister said that higher education in the state has focused on strengthening state universities, establishing premier national institutes and attracting private sector investments into the higher education sector, among other reforms.

He said during the last two years the landmark A.P. Private universities (Estb. & Regulation) Act 2016 was passed which has been hailed by educationists as the best in the country. Letter of Intent has been signed for eight Greenfield private universities in Andhra Pradesh at an investment of Rs. 9000 crore. These universities will, in the next 10 years enroll 100,000 students. Several other major proposals were also being processed with a view to making Andhra Pradesh the education hub of the world.

On the occasion, two MoUs were exchanged between the Government of Andhra Pradesh and FICCI. The first was with Sri Venkateswara University (SVU), Tirupati to set up National Knowledge Functional Hub (NKFH) for sustained Industry-Academia engagement resulting in employability of engineering graduates in Andhra Pradesh. The second one was for setting up 'FICCI Center of Excellence for Grass root Initiatives and Development' in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh.

Also, two Knowledge Papers -- FICCI-EY Report 2016 and FICCI-EFMD Paper -- were released by the dignitaries.

In her address, Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, said that India with its cost effective higher education structure, medium of teaching as English in most of the reputed universities and institutes, presence of world reputed technical institutes and expertise in specific subjects such as yoga, Ayurveda and traditional forms of dance and music and an easily accessible geographical location makes India a logical destination for higher education. However, there was a need to create a robust policy framework, conducive and friendly environment and hassle-free visa regime for students who come to India to study.

Teaotia said that almost 230,000 students went abroad to study from India, of which 100000, go to the US every year. US$ 17 billion is being spent by these students abroad on higher education. Hence, it is essential for India to upgrade the higher education system domestically to cater to the rising demand for higher education. In this regard, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has drafted a note which focuses on the education sector and also covers the area of higher education.

Martine Reicherts, Director General, Education and Culture, EU, pointed out that in the EU, the pursuit of higher education was not just about what students learn in universities. A sharp focus was on the development of soft skills amongst students. She underlined the need to include the passion for learning in the education curriculum of universities.

She said the youth was more adaptable, tolerant and adept at problem-solving and mobility programmes such as the one developed by the EU was a great enabler in sharing of best practices in the field of higher education. She added that there was a need for more Indian students in EU universities and this could be facilitated through the Erasmus Programme (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students). This EU student exchange programme was established in 1987. Erasmus+ is the new programme combining all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport, which was started in January 2014.

Harshavardhan Neotia, President, FICCI, said that multiple forces are working to disrupt the traditional model of higher education. The Government's inability to meet the demand for higher education, dominance of private higher education providers, increasing international competition, young demography that is increasingly mobile and tech savvy are just some of the factors threatening the status quo. To align regulations to the changing needs of the industry, FICCI has submitted an analysis of multiplicity of regulatory bodies in various sectors, including higher education to the government. He added that, "While we appreciate these efforts, we urge you to recognize the need to expedite the implementation of each initiative. The National Education Policy 2016 should be defined keeping the future in mind translating real actions at the States. In that sense, the theme of the Summit, 'Education for Tomorrow: Learn in India- Learn for the World' is very topical and timely."

In his theme address, Dr. Rajan Saxena, Chairman, FICCI Higher Education Committee, noted that disruptive changes, particularly those related to technology were impacting job markets in a big way. Low-end skills were being outsourced and corporates were looking to employ highly skilled workers. He called for flexibility in higher education where simulated learning and digital learning were crucial to impart the required skills to the aspirational and impatient youth.

Also, on the dais were Mr. Ganta Srinivas Rao, Minister for HRD, Government of Andhra Pradesh and Dr Indira J Parikh, Co-Chair, FICCI Higher Education Committee & Founder, ANTARDISHA.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and session was moderated by Ms. Shobha Mishra Ghosh, Senior Director, FICCI. (ANI)