Education is a matter of right for every deserving person irrespective of social stature. Our university is working towards making this a reality. USTM has to become an accomplished global destination for education with world class facilities made available for all at an affordable cost.
The last few years of USTM starting 2011 are best defined by growth, credibility enhancement, increasing acceptance and continuing innovations leading to new paradigms in Higher Education in India. With the growth of the university, the expectations of our stakeholders also changed dramatically and thus we need to meticulously identify our key focus areas and lay down deployment plans for these focus areas. It becomes very important to ensure adequate energy and resource behind implementation of deployment plans in these areas.
This University started its classes with only 6 students after it was established under the provisions of the Act, enacted and notified by Government of Meghalaya. However, within a brief period of time, the University has reached newer heights and at present almost 4000 students are pursuing higher education here. Of these, currently almost 2000 students are availing scholarships, 80% of them belonging to rural backgrounds and 57% being girl students. This growth was made possible due to the entrepreneurial zeal of the team with passionate guidance of our leader and we definitely want to keep this enthusiasm alive in us for the future journey.
Today we have almost 48 programs being offered to these students with the help of about 185 faculty members belonging to the 6 Schools namely, School of Biological Sciences, School of Applied Sciences, School of Business Sciences, School of Social Sciences & Humanities, School of Engineering & Technology and Prof Qoumrul Hoque School of Education.
We have succeeded in collaborating with many universities and organisations of repute and have put forward initiatives together, impacting the society at large and the neighbourhood. Our outreach activities have taken us closer to the people and created a connect with the neighbourhood and we started owning up the villages and create facilities in the neighbourhood to stop school dropouts. We also started encouraging meritorious students from the underprivileged section of the society and created opportunities for their higher education.
Accolades and appreciations have started coming our way towards acknowledgement of our work and that has encouraged us to take our journey further. When Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Sir came to our university last year (2014), we received immense encouragement for our progress in the sphere of educating the society and also gave his guidance for the way ahead.
However, the areas of concern relate to national rankings & accreditations, faculty development, research outcomes and infrastructural investments of the University, where we need to take serious steps and initiate action.
As we plan for the future, it is imperative to consider the context for the Strategic Plan for 2015-20, which is being developed. It is in this context that the Deans and Directors along with senior faculty members and administrative staff set to dream the future.
Forces driving the Change
The forces that are driving the change in Higher Education are many. Some of these ones have higher effect of the changes in education.
A. Statistical changes in education
By 2030, India is expected to be the most populous nation in the world with about 1461 million people. From an age perspective two, India will be youngest nation by 2030 with a median age of 32 years. India will be a labour surplus nation and an exporter of skilled manpower to labour deficient markets around the world. There is a need to create additional capacity which will take care of the incremental demand for Higher Education if the GER in Higher Education has to increase from current 20% to 50% by 2030. This has to happen across all geographies, income levels and social groups. North East Indian students need to have to increase their share in fulfilling this demand.
B. New Generation students
The new generation students are confident, expressive and technology savvy. They communicate and stay connected through the social networks which today also influence their expectations and aspirations. This is a generation in a hurry whose attention span is no more than 5 to 10 minutes. High on multi skilling, this generation wishes to learn and do many things simultaneously. It is a generation that wishes to experiment and is not afraid of taking risks.
This generation of students find more excitement in non-classroom activities than the classroom, thereby raising a debate on the role of classroom and the campuses in today’s environment. So the teaching learning methodologies have to evolve and suit the learning styles of the modern day youth.
Technology is today an important driver of change. It is today at the root of new consumptions and communication behaviour in as much as it is a leveller between the have and the have-nots. Internet/web-based technology, cloud technology mobile technology and tools of collaboration and communication are today defining the learning experience. Open source software has led to the birth of MOOCS in different forms. It has also helped co-create knowledge. This is likely to grow in a significant manner. Multiple forms of digital student engagement are likely to emerge. There is a greater likelihood of flip classrooms changing the entire learning infrastructure of the campuses. Digital library, campus vide telecast, video conferencing facilities, learning management systems, social networks etc are defining the education and research environment on the campuses.
D. Global Scenario
Today India has a winning chance to emerge as a global hub of education provided the Government of India policies do not prohibit Indian institutions from going abroad or Indian institutions bringing foreign students in India or partnering with foreign universities. India today has a significant opportunity to create demand in higher education in emerging markets. It also has an opportunity to research and innovate products and processes required for the emerging regions. The regions on the margin are a reality in countries like India and more in the north eastern part of India. India offers today opportunities to research in human life and economy. For countries in the immediate neighbourhood, India is a good destination for education, specially the North East India.
Indian education today is a large sector with 720 universities and 47000 and above colleges which includes engineering and management institutions also.
The segment is competitive and the market forces have started determining the future of an institution. The competition is no more restricted to national institutions but emanates from regional universities and institutions also. They may not necessarily have a campus or a partner but technology has today enabled them to reach out to the target segments.
New education concepts like MOOCS or short term courses offered at certificate or diploma level, education on the go (m-education) are the new competitors to the current forms of education.
The new assessment models involving stakeholders today is replacing assessment only by the university faculty or complimenting the university assessment. Competition has made the task of student engagement both offline and online more challenging.