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LondonMet Keen on Widening Research Collaborations With India

Education experts from Britain feel that Indian universities are reluctant to go in for research collaborations though the quality // of state-run institutions in the country is better than in many Southeast Asian nations.

And although India is an IT giant, there is still a great reluctance towards online education in this country, London Metropolitan University educationists Robert Aylett and Mark Bickerton.

"In India, the emphasis is still on the teacher as the instructor, face-to-face, even in higher education and the classroom continues to be a linear model," Aylett said.

Touring India with plans to deliver speciality courses, the two experts spoke to IANS here on their university's collaborations in India and neighbourhood countries.

"In India, there is a tendency to look down upon distance education as the second best." With such a huge IT industry, online education should actually be "the thing" in India, they said.

LondonMet is in the process of developing a curriculum for delivering lessons in higher education courses through mobile phones, said Robert Aylett, deputy vice-chancellor (academic).

"We have been debating what should be delivered online. Can art, language, IT programming be taught this way?

"We are making a major research bid and are looking for strategic partners for delivery over PCs and mobiles," Aylett said.

"Lectures can be delivered through voice learning, games, other interactive modules which can all be accepted by students on mobiles and PCs, especially working students, doing Masters and Ph.Ds, upgrading their qualification levels," Bickerton, LondonMet's director (student recruitment) added.

LondonMet has been collaborating with the Beijing Union University, Hunan University, Jiangxi University of Finance and Guangdon University.

"India as a country has less collaboration in higher education than Malaysia and even Bangladesh ," Bickerton lamented.

LondonMet has been working with Indian counterparts for over 15 years and has offices in New Delhi and Chennai and around 400 Indian students. The University of Pune has a bio-medical programme with the university.

This week, LondonMet signed an MoU with Chennai's Loyola College and the Ambedkar Law University to jointly develop undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

The collaborations will include provisions for some student exchange, staff exchange to build links, develop curriculum and teaching methodology/materials and form the basis for joint research.

Loyola College will focus on finance courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels jointly.

"We are offering our expertise in financial regulation and laws, international banking laws, financial economics to Indian institutions," Bickerton added.

As India is growing into an economic powerhouse, Indians need to enhance their research skills in the financial sector, the experts said.

LondonMet has interacted with Indian business fora like the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and is collaborating with institutions like the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, to develop curriculum.

It is collaborating on Intellectual Property Rights laws with Ambedkar Law University and on electronics and telecom curriculum with Indraprastha University.

"We are looking at what is the gap in professionals and at widening participation, providing postgraduate education for working people," Aylett said.

All over the world, including in Britain, "widening participation" is looked at as a process to include raising the skill and knowledge of working people at managerial levels, mostly post-40, the experts explained.

"India needs to look at what 'widening participation' means. Does it only mean including more 18-year-olds in h igher education? India needs to include greater number of professionals in postgraduate studies to raise the competency of its work force," Aylett said.


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