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New undergrad courses under project E-QUAL by 2015 year end

In a major development for undergraduate higher education in the India, a consortium of Indian and European Union (EU) universities is working to prepare newer undergraduate courses, which may start becoming available by the end of year 2015. Under Project E-QUAL (Enhancing Quality, Access and Governance of Undergraduate Education in India), a European Union funded International Collaborative Project with a funding commitment of over one million Euros commissioned in 2013 for four years (till 2017), Ambedkar University Delhi, University of Bologna, Italy, University of Hyderabad, Jadavpur University Kolkata, King’s College London, and Shiv Nadar University Noida are collaborating and participating in this work. According to Supriya Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus, Department of English, Jadavpur University who is Faculty Coordinator, Project E-QUAL, “The idea is to improve the quality of undergraduate education with interdisciplinary courses through technology. As against about 30% of courses being taken by students in foreign countries online, India has negligible such courses.  So, one of the objectives of this project is to change this status for India.”

Four thrust areas have been identified with the objective of internationalizing this level of education and include natural resources, environment and sustainable technologies, human ecology, cultural studies, and critical thinking and knowledge systems.  The courses unlike MOOCs will be in blended mode that is while as the courses will be online and accessible to anyone, teachers will be trained to teach them through a series of workshops and trainings. “There are joint working groups which meet once a month, peer review, discuss online for these courses. King’s College London, which has exceptional expertise in technology-enabled course ware, tests modules prepared by the group. The courses will be vigorously tested before rolling them out,” adds Prof Chaudhuri.

The project administrative coordination is being provided by British Council is also supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Planning Commission. Once the courses are available, a significant impact on undergrad education in India is anticipated.

 3rd Indo-US higher education dialogue

The third India-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue was held at New Delhi on November 17. This Dialogue was Co-Chaired by Mr. Satya N. Mohanty, Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry for Human Resource Development, India and Mr. Richard Stengel, U.S.Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. This was the third Dialogue in a row, after the first one held in Washington in June 2012 and the second one in New Delhi in June 2013.

The Dialogue explored various forms of collaboration between the two countries, especially in the fields of development of community colleges, massive open online courses, student and faculty exchange and skill development. The two sides reiterated the importance of the Higher Education Dialogue to promote enhanced opportunities for student and scholar mobility and faculty collaboration between the United States and India, including our ongoing collaboration on community colleges, improvement of workforce training, expansion of research and teaching exchanges, collaboration on education technology and innovation, and industry-academia linkages in higher education.

A Meeting of Joint Task Force on Community Colleges was also held prior to the India-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue and both the sides affirmed the importance of ongoing community college collaborations to meet Prime Minister Modi’s National skills development goals. The Task Force on Community Colleges discussed a plan for implementation of the recently concluded Memorandum of Understanding signed between the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The U.S. Department of State also announced the launching of the new Passport to India website (http://www.passporttoindia.com) in cooperation with the Ohio State University. The Passport to India initiative encourages young American leaders to seek out study and internship opportunities in India. The new website will serve as a portal to help students identify these opportunities.

Both sides also agreed that accomplishments of alumni from Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are remarkable, and U.S. and Indian governments are proud of prior collaborations in the development of India’s IITs. It was also agreed that the US side would extend technical cooperation for the development of one of the new IITs in India. Both sides also agreed to further enhance the cooperation for faculty development and discussed to cooperate on India’s Global Initiative of Academics Network (GIAN) to facilitate participation of U.S. faculty to take up short-term teaching and research programmes in Indian Institutions.


Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) announced the launch of its global education initiative ‘Connect to Learn’ in India. ‘Connect To Learn’ implements information and communications technology (ICT) in schools in resource poor settings, to ensure that children, no matter where they live, have access to learning resources and a quality education. In line with the vision of a complete 21st Century education for everyone, the program provides an opportunity for youth to access learning resources that were previously unavailable to them.

As a part of the program, Ericsson in association with three leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India – Plan International (India Chapter), Smile Foundation and Pratham Education Foundation has launched projects for periods of one to three years, that make a positive impact on the lives of underprivileged students and urban youth in different parts of the country.  Each partner brings a specific contribution to the success of the initiative.

In terms of creating employment opportunities for underprivileged youth, Ericsson has partnered with Smile Foundation to offer job-oriented skills and placement assistance to underprivileged youth in Delhi/National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai.  This program will impart training in basic computers and retail sales management skills, along with proficiency in spoken and written English through 20 centres to be set in Delhi/NCR and Mumbai. The curriculum also includes sessions on personal development, career counselling and placement support.

Recognizing an important link between limited mobility of women and girls and accessing progressive learning opportunities, the project with Plan India focuses on ensuring increased access to opportunities for self-development for 15000 girls in the 15-25 age group. Ericsson will establish 12 Networked Learning Centres in Delhi as knowledge hubs for girls, in association with Plan India.

As a part of the third project, Ericsson will collaborate with Pratham Education Foundation to establish Learning Excellence Program (LEP) in about 15 schools in the villages of Gurgaon. The LEP provides need based support to Government Schools by targeting children who lag behind in their learning levels.

Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR), Ericsson said, “As we move closer to the Networked Society, we see mobile broadband emerging as a powerful tool, offering the opportunity to connect even the remotest villages.

“Connect to Learn has been successful in bringing the benefits of connectivity to students and schools worldwide. With more than 1 billion people in India, the potential to contribute to improved access to education is enormous. Through the formation of initiatives like Connect To Learn, we demonstrate that public-private partnerships are key to developing sustainable solutions that can make a major impact in education through technology.”

 NUEPA to develop a national school standards and school evaluation/assessment framework

The Government of India has commissioned the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) to develop a national school standards and school evaluation/assessment framework for the government school sector, with the objective of school improvement and performance accountability, based on national best practices and international comparative experience. Different States have developed programmes to evaluate and grade their schools. Sambalan in Rajasthan, Shalegagi Navu-Neevu in Karnataka, Pratibha Parv in Madhya Pradesh and Gunotsav in Gujarat are some of these initiatives.

 70% of Indian students are taking up engineering by choice: a survey

Engineering is undoubtedly the most sought-after course as far as Indian students are concerned. Its broadened scope lends a flexibility allowing students to pursue the subject of their choice. In an endeavor to bring forth the ‘Engineering Outlook’, Shiksha.com education website has done a survey to gauge the insights about the behavior and preferences among students seeking admission in engineering courses. The survey saw the participation of more than 1000 students this year. 25% of students have opted for Computer Science & engineering followed by 23% opted for Mechanical and 15% for Electronic Communications respectively.  Interestingly 70% of students opted for engineering by personal choice whereas only 10% students said that engineering was foisted by their parents and 20% students think that engineering is the only UG degree that will get them an assured job.

Maneesh Upadhyaya, Business Head, Shiksha.com commented “This is a major shift from our days where students were forced to take up courses beyond their choices. The students are the decision makers now.”

For prospective engineering students, quality of placements and brand name are the most ranked factors while deciding a college followed by locations and fees.   Surprisingly 58% students stated that self-study is the mantra for success and did not join any coaching institute that imparts training for competitive exams. On being asked about the future plans post completion of engineering course, only 34.8% students wanted to join a job immediately after graduation. The remaining 65.2% students wanted to do a masters post their engineering. Of this 65.2%, 44% are looking to do a technology major (34.2% M.Tech and 15% MS) while 15% were looking to do an MBA immediately after their engineering graduation. With job market seeing tumultuous times, the students are looking to complete their education trying to gain an advantage over the ‘only graduate’ engineers before joining the corporate race.

 1 in 2 Mid-Career Professionals in India Look for a New Job within Two Years: LinkedIn Survey

About 52% of the total number of professionals with 1-10 years of experience (‘mid-career professionals’) in India would consider moving to another job within two years, according to a study, ‘Life of a Professional’ by LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network with more than 332 million members worldwide and 28 million in India.

Nearly a quarter, or 23% of the same group said they would stay in their current job for two years before asking for a promotion. ‘Life of a Professional’ is a study that delves into the aspirations and evolving needs of professionals through the different phases of their career.

In comparison, 82% of students and early professionals (‘fresh graduates’) in India said they expect a promotion within two years of working. The study, ‘Life of a Professional’, also shows that 64% of fresh graduates would consider changing jobs in the same timeframe..Higher pay, better career opportunities and more recognition will compel mid-career professionals to stay in their current job.

In India, 63% mid-career professionals ranked better career opportunities slightly higher than their counterparts in Asia Pacific* (60%). Sixty-three percent in India and 75% in Asia Pacific opted for a higher salary. In India, 40% said more recognition would keep them in their current jobs as compared to 38% in Asia Pacific. Interestingly, fresh graduates in Asia Pacific said that in addition to higher salary (70%) and better career opportunities (63%), learning opportunities (41%) would convince them to stay in their current job. Social networking contacts most important when moving jobs

In India, mid-career professionals (33%) said that their social networking contacts would be the most useful when moving jobs. Further, when looking for a change, 61% of this group said that they would use LinkedIn to look for job postings and career advice.

“Our study shows that mid-career professionals are in a great hurry to reach the top and are willing to work longer hours for it, which is consistent with the aspirational nature of LinkedIn’s member base. That said, it was heartening to also see this same audience attach meaningful value to greater recognition & learning opportunities which means that employers who invest in building employee-first cultures & strong employer brands will be more successful in retaining their top talent despite a competitive hiring environment.” said Nishant Rao,  Country Manager LinkedIn India.

 British Council launches research on Quality Standards in Indian education

The British Council on November 29 in New Delhi organised the Quality Standards in Education conference to bring together institutions and individuals who have a stake in promoting quality standards in education, particularly in private sector English medium primary and secondary education. Speakers included senior representatives from NCERT, CBSE, NABET, AI-NET, NCTE, IATEFL, English UK and Accreditation UK and the British Council. The British Council also released a research report  on India’s quality assurance landscape  what systems are in place and what is the focus of these systems.

Rob Lynes, Director India, British Council said, “Schools in India and the UK are concerned with providing the best education to their students. The aim of this conference was to advance the debate about quality standards in education, looking at current thinking and practice in India and the UK and what currently is happening in both countries to ensure quality. ”

The British Council’s quality assurance programme for schools allows them to be part of the English Language Quality Standards Membership Network. By going through the quality assurance process for their English language programmes of study, the schools can receive an independent and external recognition by the British Council of being quality providers of English language education. They can showcase their clear and visible commitment to high standards for their current and future students through the use of the Quality Standards marque and becoming part of this exclusive network endorsed by the British Council.

British Council’s Consultancy Service supports schools towards meeting the quality standards described in the Quality Standards Framework  an India-specific framework defines quality in relation to ten standards and five developmental stages. Schools receive personalised advice and a customised online pathway of developmental resources from the British Council to create a platform for the continuous improvement of their English language programmes of study and improved learning outcomes for their students.

Manav Rachna International University bags the ‘Best Private University for Research Promotion & Innovation in India’ award

Faridabad-based Manav Rachna International University (MRIU) was felicitated with ‘ASSOCHAM  Education Excellence Award 2014 for the Best Private University for Research Promotion &Innovation in India’ at a glittering award ceremony organized by ASSOCHAM in association with Education Post in Ahmedabad on December 9. The award was presented by Governor of Gujarat, Shri O P Kohli. Manav Rachna Education Institutions (MREI) have a strong research and development focus with more than 84 filed patents and 3000 published research papers in international and national journals.

Dr. Prashant Bhalla, Chancellor, MRIU said:“MRIU has been liberally encouraging and supporting its faculty to undertake research by providing financial assistance and laboratory wherewithal. Faculty members are encouraged to attend Faculty Development Programs both within and outside the University.

 University College Cork Opens office in New Delhi

University College Cork, Ireland has announced the opening of its new office in India. This brings the University’s global footprint to 5 representative offices, complementing its existing presence in the United States (New York), Malaysia and China. The new office which will be located in New Delhi, will further boost UCC’s presence, while broadening and deepening the University’s commitment in India and  will be headed by Ms. Minakshi Batra, Director India, who is responsible for the overall promotion of the University in India and student recruitment on-ground. She will also spearhead the development of collaborative research programs with Higher Educational Institutions and Corporates.

 HULT to offer interest free loans to Indian students

HULT International Business School,  Cambridge, one of the world’s largest graduate business schools, is the first international b-school to offer interest free loans to Indian students. In line with its objective of providing accessible and affordable world-class management education to a larger cohort from the South Asia region, the announcement is a testimony to the growing importance that the school attaches to India.

HULT International Business School along with the HULT Prize Foundation, a start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities, hosted a Thought-Leader Dialogue in Mumbai on November 26. A stimulating discussion on ‘innovation in emerging markets’ was spearheaded by Dr. Stephen Hodges, President, HULT International Business School; Dr. Hitendra Patel, Managing Director of the IXL Center and Chair of the Innovation and Growth Program at the HULT International School and Mr. Ahmad Ashkar, Founder and CEO, HULT Prize. The alumni team from the Indian School of Business that was awarded funding support of USD 1 million for winning the HULT Prize earlier this year was part of the event along with an august gathering comprising select members of India Inc. and the school’s alumni.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Stephen Hodges, President, HULT International Business School, said, “India and China are reorienting the world to look eastward  by making their mark in different spheres of life at the global level. As a young nation, India is fast emerging as a nerve center for innovation, having a strong entrepreneurial outlook with potential to come up with ideas that have the ability to create a positive impact in the ecosystem. As the world’s largest education opportunity, we view India as an important lever in our growth strategy. With more and more Indians looking to go back to their home country to work, it is important for us to learn and over a period of time, to teach, the finer nuances of doing business here.”

 GSAT-16, successfully launched

India`s communication satellite, GSAT-16, was successfully launched at 0210 hrs IST today (December 7, 2014) by the Ariane-5 launch vehicle VA221 of Arianespace from Kourou, French Guiana. Ariane-5 precisely placed GSAT-16 into the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), after a flight of 32 minutes and 20.4 Seconds duration.

ISRO`s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka started acquiring the signal from the satellite at 0241 hrs IST and the commanding of the satellite was initiated. Initial checks have indicated normal of the satellite.

The present orbit of the satellite will be raised to Geostationary Orbit of about 36,000 km altitude through three orbit raising manoeuvres by the firing of GSAT-16`s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) Engine. Preparations are underway for the first firing, planned in the early hours of December 8, 2014. The satellite will be placed in the Geostationary Orbit by December 12, 2014 and subsequently the satellite`s communication transponders will be switched on for in-orbit testing.

 First Meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee  of MHRD in NDA2 Govt

The Meeting of the Consultative Committee of Parliament for the Ministry of Human Resource Development was held on November 21. The subject of discussion for the Meeting was Skill Development in Higher Education. A presentation was made to the Members of Parliament by the Department of Higher Education on devising a framework for effective integration of skills and knowledge. The focus of the Presentation was on mainstreaming skills in Higher Education and improving social values for both skills and vocational sectors.  The Meeting emphasised the need to remove the tag of inferior stream for vocation. The main points of discussion were; need for formal certification of providers of vocational services; promoting lateral and vertical mobility as an effort to integrate skill and vocational development with main stream general education; credit framework for seamless integration of pursuit academic knowledge and practical vocational skills.

Many other initiatives were also taken up for discussion; National Employability Enhancement Mission (NEEM); setting up of Sector Skill Councils in the field of education; Community College Scheme; Choice based system; Credit Framework of NSQF (National Skill Qualification Framework); and Skills Assessment Matrix for Vocational Advancement of Youth (SAMVAY).

 DataWind launches CBSE mapped learning content on UbiSlates

Students in India now have access to this CBSE curriculum mapped rich content. DataWind, maker of UbiSlate on November 27 launched iScuela’s global award winning, multimedia rich educational content on UbiSlate tablets.   Parents and students can get their hands on this special educational package for Rs5,999  at www.ubislate.com. This special educational package comes with the 7 inch capacitive, UbiSlate 7C+ tablet, a microSD Card and the full version of the award winning learning content from iScuela.

Suneet Singh Tuli, President & CEO, DataWind said, “Education is the only veritable way that we can help deliver on the Digital India programme as it also contributes in a meaningful manner towards our goal of bridging the digital divide.Ever since our first launch, we have focused on three objectives  1) make devices more and more affordable 2) getting the best empowering content together on our tablets and 3) delivering free or almost free internet. The tie-up with iScuela for their content directly links in to our second objective.”

DataWind will also separately offer the full version on its massively popular UbiSlate 7C+. Content once loaded is available offline on the tablet and can be accessed anywhere, anytime. The offline content availability of the application provides the much needed flexibility to students to learn attheir own pace. Interactive exercises, quizzes, experiments and 3D videos embedded in all the chapters across subjects help reinforce their understanding of the subjects.

LIQVID launches its eLearning Platform – “ADURO”

Noida-based LIQVID, e-learning content solution company has announced the release of its new age eLearning platform, “Aduro” (Greek for “to kindle, fire), that has been designed with a mobile-first strategy and is available for content consumption across Android, iOS and Windows platforms. Aduro is aimed to serve as the key enabler for creating state-of-the art, new age learning experience for learners as well as educators.  Vivek Agarwal, CEO, LIQVID commented, “ADURO marks a milestone in the development of technology based learning. It will allow enterprises, educational institutions, governments and consumers to experience and deploy world class eLearning experiences with minimum time and costs.”

The key feature of Aduro is the Course Compiler which by use of innovative “template” library will allows content developers to automatically “package” various components (videos, animations, assessments etc.) for consumption in the platform; expediting the process significantly and making it a matter of hours.  At the core of this hi tech enabled platform, is a powerful analytics engine which drives personalisation & gamification for all stakeholders with sophisticated reports, dashboards and insights.

Knewcleus Introduces New Product Features

Bangalore-based software solution provider, KNEWCLEUS has new product features, Report Card, Attendance and Assignment to its portfolio. The solutions are available and easily accessible on the web and on the mobile for as low as Rs 25 per student per month. Thus, for 500 students, the cost is Rs 12,500 per month.

The ‘Report Card’ feature provides fast and reliable report card of students, adequately decked with fills, undo and many other aspects. Parents can check and get complete hands on knowledge on how their child is faring at the school by looking at their exhaustive report card. The report card can be accessed anytime and from anywhere, on the web or on an internet-connected mobile phone. The Attendance feature similarly let parents and teachers check their student’s attendance online, get a monthly attendance report or an automated immediate notification to parents in case of any anomalies regarding their child’s attendance in school. The Assignment feature is a quick tool for students to test their learning and skill and for parents, to monitor how well their child is learning in school. The feature includes aspects like True or False, Optional Answers, Match the correct answer, etc. B. Jayashankar, Co-Founder and Director, KNEWCLEUS said “The features have been newly introduced to make the communication between the school management, students, teachers and parents smooth and effective and it significantly touches three aspects  collaboration, report card and attendance. We strongly believe that a collaborative education ecosystem is of dire need in ensuring better development of student-school relationship on one hand and improving overall performance of students, on the other hand.”

Monsanto wins STPI Award for the second year in a row

Mumbai-based Monsanto has been recognised by Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) with STPI IT Export Award for employing the highest percentage of differentlyabled employees in the state of Karnataka for 2013-14. The company received the prestigious award at a felicitation ceremony held at Bangalore on 13th November 2014. Every year the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and the Government of Karnataka come together to recognize IT/ITES companies under various categories of excellence as a part of their coveted ‘IT Export Awards’.  The awards have been in existence for the past 15 years to promote growth & desirable business/people processes in this fastest growing industry of the country. The Bangalore-based Shared Services Centre (SSC) of Monsanto started operations in 2005 and has grown from a 7-member team to more than 100 members, providing services across ~50 countries where Monsanto has operations.

“As part of our strategy to build an inclusive workspace, well-planned interventions like creating infrastructure support for conducive working, workplace assistance and organising team sensitization programs for our employees, have helped create an enabling environment.” said Alind Sharma, Director-Human Resources, Monsanto India.

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