The us-based college board (estb.1900), which conducts the globally famous SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test) that determines admission into colleges and universities in the US, UK, Singapore and Canada, has announced a new India-specific initiative. Under this initiative ten highly ranked private universities in India and the US have formed an alliance to help India’s new genre private varsities to improve their entrance and admission systems through establishment of a forum for sharing global best practices.
Christened India Global Higher Education Alliance (IGHEA), the new multi-institutional partnership was announced in New Delhi by Linda Liu, vice president (international) of the College Board on May 22. Founder private universities of the new alliance include Ashoka University (Sonipat, Haryana), Azim Premji (Bangalore), Manav Rachna (Faridabad), FLAME (Pune), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), NMIMS (Mumbai), BML Munjal (Gurgaon) universities, SRM Institute of Science and Technology (Chennai) and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Karnataka). Foreign member universities include Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pomona, Purdue (USA), Cambridge (UK), McGill (Canada) and University of Hong Kong.
IGHEA will help member and other universities to smooth their testing and admission systems, especially for mid- and low-income students, to help Indian universities to create student diversity and follow government policy which provides for admission of students from historically disadvantaged communities. “The affiliate members have tackled the challenge of attracting diverse groups of students from their home countries, as well as increasing global recruitment. The goal of this alliance is that progressive Indian universities can learn from best practices shared by the affiliated members and adapt these practices to the current context of higher education in India,” says a College Board statement released on the occasion.
Prof. B.S. Satyanarayana, vice chancellor of BML Munjal University, Gurgaon, believes the alliance initiative has great potential. “As we begin to work jointly with international universities on this platform, we expect international students to enroll in Indian varsities’ study programmes which are on a par with the best globally, but provided at low prices.”
According to independent monitors of India’s higher education scene, the promotion of IGHEA marks the formal entry of the College Board — which conducts America’s and arguably the world’s largest college entrance examination (SAT) written by American and other school-leavers worldwide aspiring to enter 6,000-plus universities for undergrad education — into India’s fast expanding higher education sector.
Currently, India’s estimated 12 million school-leavers have to write several entrance exams to enter higher education institutions of their choice. While engineering and medical college aspirants have the option of writing the national IIT-JEE and NEET or CET (Common Entrance Test) conducted by state governments, students aspiring to enter arts, science and commerce colleges have to get high scores in the school-leaving class XII exams conducted by national boards such as CBSE, CISCE and 32 state exam boards.
But since the syllabus, curriculums and testing rigour of these exam boards vary widely, most reputed — especially private — arts, science and commerce colleges conduct their own entrance exams, an administrative headache. For private colleges and universities in particular, an Indian SAT whose testing and certification of school-leavers is reliable, could prove to be a great boon.
Nor is it a coincidence that the founder members of IGHEA are private universities highly ranked in the EducationWorld India Private University Rankings 2018-19. All of them entertain strong ambition of rising high in the Top 200 World University Rankings of the London-based rating agencies QS and THE which rank universities around the world.
For these ambitious new genre universities — and the country’s faltering higher education institutions, the College Board’s serious India debut is likely to prove a win-win proposition.
Autar Nehru (Delhi)