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Confederation of Indian Universities (CIU)

Vision 2020


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Internationalisation of Higher Education :
CIU's Vision for 2020

It has often been taken for granted that universities are international. The universal nature of knowledge, a long tradition of international collegiality and cooperation in research, the comings and goings of faculty and students since antiquity have all served to create this impression. Conscious that this impression only partially reflects the day to day reality of higher education institutions and noting that internationalisation of higher education is today more than ever a worthy goal, there is an urgent need to reaffirm the commitment and to urge all stakeholders to contribute to its realisation.

As we approach the 21st Century, a number of major challenges face women and men as they interact with one another as individuals, groups, and with nature. Globalisation of trade, of production, of services, and of communications has created a highly interconnected world. Yet the tremendous gaps between the rich and the poor continue to widen both within, and between nations. Sustainable development remains an elusive long-term goal, too often sacrificed for short-term gains.

It is imperative that higher education offers solutions to existing problems and innovate to avoid problems in the future. Whether in the economic, political, or social realms, higher education is expected to contribute to raising the overall quality of life. To fulfil its role effectively and maintain excellence, higher education must become far more internationalised; it must integrate an international and intercultural dimension into its teaching, research, and service functions.

Preparing future leaders and citizens for a highly interdependent world, requires a higher education system where internationalisation promotes cultural diversity and fosters intercultural understanding, respect, and tolerance among peoples. Such internationalisation of higher education contributes to building more than economically competitive and politically powerful regional blocks; it represents a commitment to international solidarity, human security and helps to build a climate of global peace.

Technological advances in communications are powerful instruments, which can serve to further inter-nationalisation of higher education and to democratise access to opportunities. However, to the extent that access to new information technologies remains unevenly distributed in the world, the adverse side effects of their widespread use can threaten cultural diversity and widen the gaps in the production, dissemination, and appropriation of knowledge.

Highly educated manpower at the highest levels are essential to increasingly knowledge-based development. Internationalisation and international cooperation can serve to improve higher education by increasing efficiency in teaching and learning as well as in research through shared efforts and joint actions.

The Confederation of Indian Universities (CIU) from the very day of its establishment on 15 April 2004 thinks it proper to define the principle of institutional autonomy as the necessary degree of independence from external interference that a university requires in respect of its internal organisation and governance, the internal distribution of financial resources and the generation of income from non public sources, the recruitment of its staff, the setting of the conditions of study and, finally, the freedom to conduct teaching and research.

The CIU wishes to further define the principle of academic freedom as the freedom for members of the academic community that is, scholars, teachers and students to follow their scholarly activities within a framework determined by that community in respect of ethical rules and international standards, and without outside pressure.

Rights confer obligations. These obligations are as much incumbent on the individuals and on a university of which they are part, as they are upon the State and the Society.

Academic freedom engages the obligation by each individual member of the academic profession to excellence, to innovation, and to advancing the frontiers of knowledge through research and the diffusion of its results through teaching and publications.

Academic freedom also engages the ethical responsibility of the individuals and the academic community in the conduct of research, both in determining the priorities of that research and in taking account of the implications, which its results may have for humanity and nature.

For its part, the University has the obligation to uphold and demonstrate to the society that it stands by its collective obligation to quality and ethics, to fairness and tolerance, to the setting and the upkeep of standards academic when applied to research and teaching, administrative when applied to due process, to the rendering of accounts to the society, to self-verification, to institutional review and to transparency in the conduct of institutional self-government.
For their part, organising powers and stakeholders, public or private, stand equally under the obligation to prevent arbitrary interference, to provide and to ensure those conditions necessary, in compliance with internationally recognised standards, for the exercise of academic freedom by individual members of the academic profession and for University autonomy to be exercised by the institution. In particular, the organising powers and stakeholders, public or private, and the interests they represent, should recognise that by its very nature the obligation upon the academic profession to advance knowledge is inseparable from the examination, questioning and testing of accepted ideas and of established wisdom. And that the expression of views, which follow from scientific insight or scholarly investigation may often be contrary to popular conviction or judged as unacceptable and intolerable. Hence, agencies which exercise responsibility for the advancement of knowledge as to particular interests which provide support for, or stand in a contractual relationship with, the university for the services it may furnish, must recognise that such expressions of scholarly judgement and scientific inquiry shall not place in jeopardy the career or the existence of the individual expressing them nor leave that individual open to pursual for delit d'opinion on account of such views being expressed.

If the free range of inquiry, examination and the advance of knowledge are held to be benefits society derives from the University, the latter must assume the responsibility for the choices and the priorities it sets freely. Society for its part, must recognise its part in providing means appropriate for the achievement of that end.

Resources should be commensurate with expectations especially those which, like fundamental research, demand a long-term commitment if they are to yield their full benefits.

The obligation to transmit and to advance knowledge is the basic purpose for which academic freedom and university autonomy are required and recognised. Since knowledge is universal, so too is this obligation.

In practice, however, universities fulfil this obligation primarily in respect of the societies in which they are located. And it is these communities, cultural, regional, national and local, which establish with the University the terms by which such responsibilities are to be assumed, who is to assume them and by what means and procedures. Responsibilities met within the setting of 'national' society, extend beyond the physical boundaries of that society. Since its earliest days, the University has professed intellectual and spiritual engagement to the principles of 'universalism' and to 'internationalism' whilst Academic freedom and university autonomy evolved within the setting of the historic national community.
For universities to serve a world society requires that academic freedom and university autonomy form the bedrock to a new Social Contract - a contract to uphold values common to humanity and to meet the expectations of a world where frontiers are rapidly dissolving. In the context of international cooperation, the exercise of academic freedom and university autonomy by some should not lead to intellectual hegemony over others. It should, on the contrary, be a means of strengthening the principles of pluralism, tolerance and academic solidarity between institutions of higher learning and between individual scholars and students.

At a time when the ties, obligations and commitments between the society and the university are becoming more complex, more urgent and more direct, it appears desirable to establish a broadly recognised Charter of mutual rights and obligations governing the relationship between the University and society, including adequate monitoring mechanisms for its application.

 

 


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Confederation of Indian Universities 2004-2011
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Last updated: 05-Aug-2011.