Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar recently unveiled web portals of two schemes- IMPRESS and SPARC with an aim to create a research ecosystem in higher education institutes. Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that two web portals will facilitate research projects in the areas of social sciences in India, and research collaborations among Indian and Foreign Universities. The scheme for research in Social Sciences is IMPRESS and the scheme for collaboration with foreign universities is SPARC. IMPRESS
Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS)was launched with the objective of identifying and funding research proposals in social sciences with the maximum impact on the Governance and Society.
This will facilitate social science researchers in any institution in the country which includes all universities (central and state) and also private institutions meeting the criteria requirements. The Scheme will be put into action at a total cost of Rs 414 Cr till March 2021. Under this project, 1500 research projects will be sanctioned for two years to facilitate social science research in higher education institutions.
The minister said in his conference that the projects would be selected for funding on a strictly merit-based. The main objective of this scheme is to identify and fund research proposals pertaining to governance and society. Thrust Areas on which government will be focusing under this project:- Urban transformation State and Democracy Culture and society Employment Skills and Rural transformation Innovation and Public Policy Governance Agriculture and Rural Development Health and Environment Social Media and Technology Science and Education Politics Law and Economics The expert groups’ will decide about the Sub-themes later.
The process for project selection will be done in a transparent way and in online mode. Only the Indian universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12 (B) status conferred by UGC will be provided the funding for social science researches. I
Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) funded research Institutes can also submit research proposals on the said themes. Generally, the proposals will be called four times – October 2018, February 2019, September 2019, and February 2020.
The entire process of selection and evaluation will be completed within 90 days from the date of the call for proposals. All the projects accepted will be regularly monitored and the progress report will be directly updated by the Project Coordinator. ( http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/PR_IMPRESS%20.pdf ) SPARC
Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) has been launched by the HRD ministry to facilitate research collaboration among Indian and Foreign universities. The Scheme will be implemented at a total cost of Rs 418 Cr till March 2021.Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT)has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the SPARC programme.
Only the top 100 Indian Institutions in NIRF (including private Institutions) and the best institutions in the world(top -500 overall and top -200 subject wise institutions ranked according to QS World University rankings) from 28 selected nations [Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom(UK), United States of America(the USA, selected to jointly solve the problem of national and international relevance. ( http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/PR_SPARC.pdf) Key Features of SPARC
- Fundamental Research, Emergent Areas of Impact, Convergence Action -Oriented Research and Innovation-Driven are the key thrust areas on which the joint recommendation is recommended.
- A set of nodal agencies has been identified in the country as well as foreign participating country. 25 such reputed Institutions have been identified as nodal Institutions.
- This scheme will promote visits of International faculty in Indian Institutes to pursue research, visits by Indian students to the world class universities, and joint development of niche courses, monographs, patents.
Other important Schemes of the Government in higher education
- IMPRINT INDIA
- UCHCHTAR AAVISHKAR ABHIYAAN
- Global Initiatives For Academic Networks(GIAN) Scheme
- ‘Study in India’
Perks of IMPRESS & SPARC This new schemes will aim at improving the research ecosystem of the country.
- It will facilitate research collaborations between top institutes of the country and globally ranked Foreign Institutions.
- It will have a major impact on providing the best international expertise to address major national problems.
- Will improve the international rankings of Indian Universities.
- Enable international faculty to contribute to India for a longer duration
- Will provide Indian students an opportunity to learn in world-class laboratories.
- This will provide opportunity and funds to upcoming students to make a stand globally.
Criteria for Funds Only the Indian universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12 (B) status conferred by UGC will be provided the funding for social science researches. How these schemes can elevate Rankings of Higher Education Institutes in Global rankings? Indian higher education system is currently the third largest in the world, next to the United States and China. According to the ‘Times Higher Education ‘a ranking, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore is the country’s highest –ranked institution.
The current global higher education milieu is totally preoccupied with rankings. The collaboration of countless institutions has necessitated the logic of bench marking. The Indian higher education system has a formidable presence, courtesy the growing number of institutions (both Public and Private), as well as the mass of populace that it reaches. The Indian Governments recent schemes seem a step towards minimizing this gap and reclaim the lost glory.
Their main agenda is to create World-class universities in India. Schemes like SPARC can really elevate India’s position in the global rankings. The basic parameters used by the International ranking companies include International collaboration.
The Other Side As it’s not the first scheme Indian Higher Education has before two schemes there were many in the operation. In spite of all efforts and various funding, Indian Higher education is far behind if we compare it on a Global Platform. And hence a question arises why so ?? Many Factors that are hindering the growth of Indian Higher Education Let’s discuss how to minimize such factors and utilize it to its fullest and best.
The HRD ministry should take these seriously and act accordingly in the coming months to utilize the funds appropriately. This scheme deserves to become a major higher education initiative also because it has implications for foreign collaboration and diplomatic relations. But, we do have to keep in mind our limitations.
- A few of our universities can compete with the best in the world or even in Asia. The Government’s schemes in recent years to improve the quality of higher education have not been very effective so we cannot expect a miracle anytime soon. until and unless we are improving our quality of education we cannot think of attracting foreign students.
- We can’t expect students from richer countries with a robust higher education system to come to India to pursue study in science and technology, even for Student exchange programme. But we can expect student participation from low- middle-income countries because of their deficiencies in their higher education system.
- We should develop the environment more friendly or tolerant of foreigners from rich or poor countries.
We should create shorter programs for International students. Countries like China have taken great initiatives to attract a larger number of international students. International students bring with them ‘ Economic benefits’, which will improve India’s status in the World scenario. Some of the benefits may not happen immediately.
However, India is slowly catching up. International students not only help in improving the revenue structure of the economy but also help to cultivate a nation’s reputation. Currently, India’s international student rate is much lower compared to many countries, but that is something the nation is striving hard to change.
The primary objective for the country is, to improve the enrollment rate and improve the rankings of the Indian institutes. However, if the higher education system in India wants to address this serious issue then it has to establish collaborations with a number of internationally renowned institutions. There’s a great possibility that India could be a driving force for international study. With the rapid economic and social development the country has witnessed in recent years, and with rapid progress across the globe, it suggests that it could become a major education destination as well.