UNIVERSITY: An idea of excellence

A university is an academic institution of higher learning committed to disseminate and create knowledge, deliver quality education, work for national interests and further international cooperation. The principal endeavour of any university is to prepare its stakeholders to confront the challenges of the present century. Besides, it serves the society by supplying considerable harvest of educated, well trained, self-determined and self-directed learners who are future leaders of the nation.

At present global market demands that workers are educated and have a strong command over the 21st century skills. Moreover, it aspires them trained in a multicultural framework so that they grow as liberals, tolerant and courteous to the customs and beliefs that other partners carry. To honour these demands, a university in contemporary era makes sure that students are properly trained in life skills inside the classroom in addition to their specializations. Thus, the University aims to deliver global education in a native environment. Moreover, the Centre of Excellence demands intellectual labour and aims to build up the power to confront & challenge, question & enquire, expand & stretch oneself to the frontier.

The core quality parameters of any dream university are recognised as: guided vision and mission, advanced infrastructure linked to technology, research-based curriculum, academically and intellectually gifted learners, well-qualified faculty, excellence in teaching, distinction in research, robust evaluation mechanism, proper funding and visionary leadership. For improving and convalescing the quality, each parameter must match the global standards. These basic quality parameters attract gifted learners and researchers to the institution. The ambience and rich culture of the university also offers autonomy to learn, unlearn and relearn.

The curriculum is the formal academic plan for any institution. The world-class curriculum of any university must include learning outcomes in the form of knowledge, skills and attitudes; the demanding course content embedded with learning experiences; motivated learners with proper base; pedagogical skills and methodologies; teaching resources; evaluation; modifiable teaching and learning processes and research orientation. 21st century has forced institutions to get some reforms in the curriculum, like learning goals are included with broad competencies besides its core objectives. Now any change in the curriculum should lead to improving learning for innovations. Diversity and international proficiencies have emerged as a major focus in the curriculum of universities.

The teacher plays a major role to develop the image of any university. He is not only a techno-friendly smart learner, mentor, researcher but also a role model of the future generation. He carries a high intellect and decides wisely. To appoint faculty who is ‘well qualified with sound pedagogical skills, vibrant in critical thinking, value-oriented, with a focused mind and one who can foster excellence in research’ should be a mission of the university. His instructions would be live, innovative and suited to the needs and aspirations of students taking due care of their constructive to behavioural demands. He should be able to make students nosy risk-takers to plunge across disciplines.

The quality research activities of any country have definite socio-economic and technological impacts. Quality research is one of the mainstays of any university. Research determines and evaluates the latest knowledge and technologies necessary for driving humanity. Without research, a germane and contemporary curriculum does not exist. Research offers proficient brilliance to the institution. When future specialists and leaders in the form of students are involved in research with its purposeful process, they are able to face the challenges and grab the opportunities of hope. Research is a prospect to make a difference among institutions and flourishes on a diversity of approaches and standpoints.

Any aspiring global university must get a visionary leader/administrator who is decisive, bold and open to novel ideas. He also should lead by example. He should be courageous of giving educational autonomy to its faculty, which in turn can also stimulate the conducive academic environment within the campus. Academic autonomy with accountability will lead to a meaningful envisioning of the institution, which would decide an inclusive design that stands to fulfil the expectations of society.

Globally, Indian Higher Education System being the second largest system with almost 1000 universities does not have even a single one in the list of top 300 universities of the world (Times Higher Education-2019). Although the performance of Indian universities is relatively better in teaching, learning and resources, but poor in research & professional practice, extension & outreach, consultancy, perception and international outlook. India has great potential in the global higher education market being advantageous in the young population, increase in gross enrolment ratio and the growing number of universities which open ample collaboration opportunities at global level. We must hold high ambitions to reform our university system by focusing on grey areas to boost international standing and work together so that our dreams also come true.

Dr. Mohammad Sayid Bhat is Sr. Assistant Professor, Department of Education Central University of Kashmir