Faculty Crunch Not In Way Of Sending Out Academics

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New Delhi, Mar 27 (UNI) Although facing possible faculty crunch as it prepares to boost its higher education, India today offered to provide Indian academics for Omani institutions, officials said.

The subject came up when Oman's Higher Education Minister Rawya bint Saud Al Busaidiya called Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, officials said.

HRD Secretary R P Agrawal, who was present, told the visitors that the next Five Year Plan will give Indian higher education ''a lot of boost'' with an almost ten fold budget increase.

He mentioned plans to open a large number of central universities, management and technology schools and other colleges and polytechnics.

''Although India may also face faculty crunch but we would definitely like to collaborate with Oman by way of providing Indian Academics for Omani institutions,'' an HRD statement quoted Agrawal as saying.

Dr Rawya is on an official visit to India on the invitation of HRD Minister Singh.

She was accompanied among others by Salalah University Dean Bakheet Ahmed Al-Mahri and Foreign Scholarship Department Director Hamad Bin Hamood Al Balushi.

In a cordial meeting, Dr Rawya told Singh her visit has been ''very fruitful.'' She visited such institutions as the University Grants Commission, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia and was said to be impressed by the quality of academic facilities.

The two sides had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2007 for cooperation in higher education through exchange of visits of scholars and better mutual understanding.

Both Ministers voiced their keen desire to finalise some programmes under the framework of the MOU and form a Joint Working Group for this ''very early.'' These programmes include recognising each other's degrees, joint conferences on economic development, management and business and planning, faculty exchange, twinning institutions and short-term fellowships.

Dr Rawya said Oman has a number of agreements with Indian institutions-- medicine, agriculture, marine science-- and would like similar agreements with more Indian institutions, especially engineering and medical science.

The Omanese delegation is scheduled to visit Ahmedabad-based Indian Institute of Management and National Institute of Design on March 28.

UNI MJ Mir KN2130

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