Role of higher educational institutions in fostering inclusivity and equity

Dr Naga Swetha Pasupuleti, Associate Director – International Relations and Higher Studies, SRM University

The last few decades in higher education witnessed ground-breaking transformations. Integrating with the larger society for the betterment of humankind has always been a priority for higher education institutions, as internationalisation is synonymous with hope, opportunity, and diversity. The world is approaching a new era with even more significant difficulties in expanding international elements in higher education worldwide. India has always been a source of knowledge for the world. Nalanda University which was founded in 5th century BC, one of the first international universities, drew students and academics from countries including Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia, and Turkey. Though there was decline in the influx due to various reasons India went through, there has been a sharp growth in the number of international students travelling to India over the past few years, and it is now the most popular location for them to pursue their higher education. Apart from the strong fundamental and technical knowledge, students’ attractiveness towards India could be— when compared to contemporary global education powerhouse like the USA, UK, and Australia— education costs in India are far lower.

India offers thousands of governments and private universities and colleges in addition to renowned universities such as OP Jindal Global University, Ashoka University, Shiv Nadar University, Azim Premji University and SRM University including the IITs, IIMs, and JNU.

Numerous nations from around the world are inclining towards India. Data shows that Nepal continues to send the most students, with 28.1%. Afghanistan with 9.1%, Bangladesh with 4.6%, and Bhutan with 3.8% are next. In order of student enrolment, the top 10 nations include Sudan (3.6%), the United States (3.3%), Nigeria (3.1%), Yemen (2.9%), Malaysia (2.7%), and the United Arab Emirates (2.7%). The transition has been occurring gradually over the last decade but has received a powerful new impetus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Addressing significant national and international social challenges, such as climate change and xenophobia, through outreach, community education, and service initiatives is essential to improve communication and interaction between the university, industry, and society for the benefit of social, cultural, and economic growth.

When we discuss internationalisation, students today must be able to work and meet the demands of any part of the world and ensure that the thought process is of the highest calibre. When a team is made up of diverse individuals from across the globe, different backgrounds provide varied people’s different perspectives on the issues. This can be aided by education and knowledge sharing. Everyone has a fundamental right to education, and no one should be deprived of it. Without any exception, every student in a third-world country should have access to education.

Diversity leads to more equitable opportunities as well as improved levels of innovation. There is always more room for invention when students from many nations and races come together to learn and work together. Behavioural psychology holds that individuals from various origins fall into distinct categories when thinking. In other words, when people from different parts of the world get together, the conversations foster healthy advancement in research and innovation. Equity in cooperation and fairness in the quantity of education gained are necessary for this to all be realised.

Manufacturing is where local product development is followed by fulfilling global demand. The first stage of innovation and development is research, the only way to enable and implement them. Equitable partnerships are the most effective way for research as well. Upholding equity and inclusivity will foster education. All these can be accomplished with highly trained individuals who can think beyond barriers, which is made feasible by the amplified diversity.

When discussing internationalisation, there needs to be more clarity about how the sense of it is perceived. Internationalisation includes revenue generation, economic rationales, innovation, etc. and refers to welcoming minority people worldwide who would typically benefit from it. Even if students achieve these top-notch standards, it is unfortunate that only some students who can afford to pay tuition and attend diverse schools can benefit from them. When interpreting its significance, one should envision world-class education for everyone.

In addition to the ability of international students to adapt to local circumstances, internationalisation depends on the priorities, decisions, and level of dedication of local students, faculty members, and administrative personnel to these imperatives. Working toward diverse or inclusive international and intercultural learning for all entails being more accepting of varied settings, objectives, and viewpoints on a global scale. Our institution strives for fair and equitable competition between international and domestic students. Additionally, there are always equal opportunities because this makes a school adaptive and a place where students can express themselves accomplishing the real internationalisation objective.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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