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
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
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
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
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
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.