Daily Editorial Update with Vocabulary – University, the cornucopia of ideas


Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here is today’s editorial with vocabulary from the most vocabulary enriched newspaper The Hans India.

University, the cornucopia of ideas
Universities are the commanding
heights of intelligentsia. A
university stands for adventure of ideas and onward march of human
civilisation. As the economies are no longer built upon physical and natural
resources and the societies in knowledge economy increasingly built upon human
resources, universities assume a monumental role in shaping the course of human
civilisation.
The Osmania University
celebrating its 100 years of existence is in the midst of reworking this vision
for the next 50 years. Though, it’s a gigantic task to plan for a half century
ahead, it’s a worthwhile activity that can serve as a guiding spirit for any
other university aspiring to relocate itself in the newly emerging knowledge
landscape. 
The major deficiency in Indian
higher education system is its failure to produce institutions that have a
global reckoning. This results in migration of young minds in search of more
exciting learning opportunities. Instead, our universities can also harness the
globalised educational environment to emerge as world-class universities. To
begin with, we can at least transform our varsities into learning destinations
for students from the emerging world.
The best universities are
responsible for many of the discoveries that have made the world a safer,
richer and more interesting place. The point of introspection for a university should be on its original contribution
to society around, more so in the case of public-funded universities.
The Osmania University is
celebrating its centenary in the early years of the formation of new state of
Telangana. The university was in the forefront in the movement for separate statehood.
Therefore, it is much more pertinent to ensure that the university research and
education system rises up to the challenge of finding creative solutions for
the problems of Telangana society.
But, westernisation of higher
education led to delinking of universities from the native community and
society. The time has come to reverse the trend to make universities socially
relevant and intellectually stimulating.
As William Barton Rogers, the
founder-president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), observed,
education should be both broad and useful, enabling students to participate in
the humane culture of the community and to discover and apply knowledge for the
benefit of the society.
Despite a lofty talk of
university-industry interface, the gulf between the two is widening.  University faculty should lead the industry,
while the industry leaders should actively take part in university
teaching. 
University system caught in the rigmarole of rules and regulations
often fails to create a congenial
environment for a live interaction between the university and the industry.
Necessary governance and administrative reforms are needed for encouraging a
close engagement between the two to make the university education relevant to
the economy.
Universities should be able to
show that they have taught their students to think critically.  At a time when public intellectuals are
increasingly becoming an endangered species, the task of producing critical
minds is of much greater importance. 
This requires universities to constantly probe the world of thought and
action to seek explanations for public actions.
An environment of vibrant debate
that promotes diversity of views and free and fearless expression of ideas is
the soul of the university. Not to undermine the importance of skills to fit
into the modern work place, still, universities are not and cannot be
polytechnics. Universities should be the cornucopia
of ideas.
The time has come for the
universities to move away from abundance of monotonous lectures, text books ,
prepared study material, examinations whose scores have little or no relevance
in the market place, static and staggered syllabi that does not keep pace with
the rising demands of  industry and
society, and the eco system that does not inspire learning and experimentation.
We have to evolve new forms of
learning, though immediately we cannot abandon the conventional models.   Why can’t we think of a university learning
eco system that is challenge-driven rather than information-centric, where
students work on projects in teams trying to solve problems that have no clear
answers?
Let the industry or government or
for that matter any other user agency that would benefit from these answers
finance the projects. Such an approach may seem to be disruptive but it amounts
to creative destruction. Innovations in teaching-learning approaches should
redefine the form and content of a university.
Universities should promote
deeper learning. The present-day teaching methods stifle understanding. A
university should spark curiosity in young minds.
Universities cannot produce compartmentalised knowledge systems.
Inter-disciplinary interaction triggers cross-fertilisation of ideas. Perhaps,
an artist can significantly contribute to a structural design than a civil
engineer.
Universities can combine online
and offline education to make value addition to higher learning. Mere
information-imparting courses can be offered online so that the offline courses
focus more on application of knowledge through experimentation and innovation
rather than end up in rote learning.
Thus, university campuses should
have incubators, design factories that can convert a good idea into a good
product or a service. World’s best universities offer such facilities for the
teachers and the students on the campus.
A university in a democratic
society should play the role of social critics. It should reflect on the
contemporary epoch with a sense of
impartiality and intellectual maturity. Thus, universities should contribute to
public policy, economic growth and human development.
The interaction with the alumni
cannot be an event-specific endeavour. Alumni, especially those who excelled in
respective professions, can be a source of guidance to revisit the curriculum
and teaching methods.
The education and experience
offered in the university should foster
a lifelong connection with the alma mater. The systems, processes and the
university governance structures should be reformed to ensure such a dynamic
interaction between the university and its alumni.  
Great universities develop an
organic link with the city and the community around. Varsities cannot exist in
social vacuum. They cannot be the islands of geographical spaces or emotionally
walled or gated communities.
Instead, the universities should
dynamically contribute to the cultural, social and economic life of the city
that hosts it. The centenary cannot be a campus extravaganza alone. The entire
city should feel enthralled to host this proud moment in its history.
Universities should continue to
combine the best traditions of excellence and equity. They cannot be elite
institutions that make education a class preserve. The academic community of
the university should be signified by its social diversity.
There are myriad ways how a
university can sustain its engagement with the wider intellectual fraternity. The notable example is the
contribution of Oxford University Press through its publications. This is how a
university can be active worldwide.
Though a university of
international standing, Oxford University Press caters even to the preschool
education, indicating the potential with which a university can serve the
society. The strategic plan document of the Oxford University for the period
2013-18 says that a great university both conveys the knowledge created by its
community and is open to new ideas generated elsewhere.
Digital technologies are
revolutionising the generation, dissemination
and assimilation of knowledge. The
new technologies provide the unique opportunity even to the conventional
universities to expand their intellectual footprint beyond the geographical
frontiers.
Enhanced online presence of the
university through courses, lectures, documentation of research is the most
effective means of influencing and engaging with the global students. The Cyber
University can be a complementary and parallel platform to its traditional
presence.
The university should develop an
online archive of research and the publications done by its students and
faculty.
A university should provide an
unparallel academic journey that would ensure personal, professional and
intellectual transformation. Students coming out of the university campus
should have a sense of confidence, pride and a challenging spirit to conquer
the world. Universities cannot be the factories that churn out degrees that
have little or no relevance to one’s own or societal development.
University products should not
claim value in a society, but, contribute a value to the society.  Societies turning more and more complex are
desperately looking for leaders. Universities should generate leaders across
various fields of social and economic enterprise.
A university should be a place
for free inquiry, critical questioning, free and robust expression of diverse
perspectives, augmenting innovation and enterprise, incubation of productive
ideas and wider engagement. University education should offer a fine
combination of rigorous academic study, the pleasure of facing the challenge,
the excitement in discovery and intellectual stimulation.
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Important
Vocabulary from Editorial
Words
Meaning
intelligentsia
intellectuals or highly educated people as a
group, especially when regarded as possessing culture and political
influence.
introspection
the examination or observation of one’s own
mental and emotional processes.
rigmarole
a lengthy and complicated procedure.
congenial
pleasant or agreeable because suited to one’s
taste or inclination.
cornucopia
an abundant supply of good things of a specified
kind.
compartmentalised
divide into discrete sections or categories.
rote
mechanical or habitual repetition of something to
be learned.
epoch
a particular period of time in history or a
person’s life.
foster
encourage the development of (something,
especially something desirable).
fraternity
a group of people sharing a common profession or
interests.
dissemination
the act of spreading something, especially
information, widely; circulation.
assimilation
the process of taking in and fully understanding
information or ideas.

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