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The ""Sonipat Declaration"" on World-Class Universities in BRICS and Emerging Economies

December 9, 2015 - Sonipat, Haryana , India

Business Wire India
The Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies Universities Summit on the theme: “Why Emerging Economies need World Class Universities” held during 2-4 December 2015 was organised by the Times Higher Education (THE), O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU),  Sonipat and the International Institute for Higher Education Research and Capacity Building (IIHEd).
During the course of the three day Summit, IIHEd worked towards building consensus and sharing perspectives among the delegates of the summit to lay down a set of principles to guide the creation and development of world-class universities in the BRICS and Emerging Economies leading to the formulation of the “Sonipat Declaration”.
Speaking on why “Sonipat Declaration” is relevant, Professor C Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University and Director, IIHEd said, “Sonipat Declaration is an aspirational document that imagines the vision and ideas of world-class universities and how they could be established and nurtured in the BRICS and Emerging Economies. Sonipat Declaration creates opportunities for universities to work towards raising their standards and promoting excellence while benchmarking themselves with internationally renowned institutions. It recognizes that the pursuit of excellence cannot be the sole prerogative of a few institutions in the world but the ‘world-class universities’ paradigm is an inclusive, democratic and a globally engaged way of thinking about nation building.”
There were various thematic sessions at the summit namely: future of rankings, university governance and effective leadership for institution building, the role of information and communication technology in promoting innovation in universities, balancing global education with local aspirations, changing dimensions of liberal arts and humanities studies in emerging economies, the role of international collaborations in promoting global excellence, changing university culture to increase research productivity and visibility and developing a culture of research excellence and funding the future: how universities in emerging economies can diversify their income, culminated in discussions and debates surrounding what constitutes a world-class university and what values and perspectives contribute to institution building in these universities.
Prof Kumar further said, “THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Summit was held in India for the first time and saw one of the largest gathering of global academic thought leaders at the O.P. Jindal Global University Campus at Sonipat. This provided us an excellent opportunity to share perspectives for formulating a vision document laying down guiding principles for the development of world class universities within BRICS countries.”
 The Sonipat Declaration at a glance
Principle 1. The mission of world-class universities is the pursuit of knowledge and promotion of innovation
Principle 2. The highest qualities of students, faculty, and staff must be promoted
Principle 3. Research should adhere to the highest standards
Principle 4. Universities must be provided appropriate resources to achieve greatness
Principle 5. Governance of universities must provide an environment for free enquiry and career development
Principle 6. Universities can enhance the quality of teaching and research through local and global connections
The first principle of the Sonipat Declaration emphasizes that a world-class university is one that considers access to higher education to be a human right. The Declaration further states that the Universities in the BRICS and Emerging Economies should encourage creative thought and values the diverse backgrounds of the different university stakeholders.
The second principle focuses on equality in recruitment, selection, retention, and promotion of students, staff, and faculty and emphasizes that these should not be distorted by ideological, political, or financial pressures or gender disparity.
The third principle emphasizes on the originality, proper attribution and adherence to the highest standards of academic honesty in the research process. The principle states that world-class universities in the BRICS and Emerging Economies have a special challenge to promote and produce the highest quality research at the undergraduate, graduate and professional school levels.
The forth principle focuses on universities in the BRICS and Emerging Economies not achieving greatness unless they have sufficient financial and human resources. The declaration highlights both the government’s responsibility to provide adequate resources and the role of philanthropy and the need to encourage it for funding higher education. It lays emphasis on making education accessible through scholarships
The declaration also highlights administered funding from industry to avoid any conflict of interest and interference with academic integrity and freedom. A conflict-of-interest policy should be made explicit and transparent by the university, which should require a conflict of interest statement by the researcher receiving such support.
The fifth principle of the declaration lays down that as part of their effort to achieve world-class status, universities in the BRICS and Emerging Economies must adhere to the highest standards of academic freedom, honesty, and integrity. The declaration also states that while maintaining the above standards, universities may have a valuable role to play in forming government policy at the local and national levels to help governments address issues affecting public welfare.
The sixth principle of the declaration states that part of building world-class universities is fostering local and international collaborations. In addition, universities should cultivate collaborations with institutions across the globe through joint teaching, faculty and student exchanges, joint research, seminars, training programs and conferences, and joint publications.
The “Sonipat Declaration” is an aspirational document and IIHEd is committed to working towards fulfilling the aspirations of building world class universities in the BRICS and emerging economies.
About IIHEd
IIHEd is an independent research institute within O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) that will be focused on pursuing research and capacity building initiatives on different aspects of higher education in India and beyond, with the vision of contributing towards institution building for nation building
IIHEd will conduct research and offer advice on all aspects of higher education with a strong focus on curriculum development; pedagogical innovations; faculty engagement; faculty recruitment, retention and development; research and knowledge creation systems; promotion of scholarship and building research capacities; developing international collaborations; benchmarking and assessments of institutions; and for providing institutional support on law, policy and regulations relating to higher education.
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Photo Caption: Hon'ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurates THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Universities Summit with O.P. Jindal Global University, Founding Chancellor, Mr. Naveen Jindal accompanied by Founding Vice Chancellor Professor (Dr.) C Raj Kumar and Mr. Phil Baty, editor at large of Times Higher Education magazine at Durbar Hall, Rashtrapati Bhavan

Source: Business Wire India


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