Published Date: 2023-11-26, Sunday
Kathmandu University organises National Conference of the Vice-Chancellors
University leaders committed to working together to internationalise and strengthen Nepal’s higher education.
Dhulikhel, Kavre, November 24
Kathmandu University (KU) organised a conference of vice-chancellors from universities across Nepal on Friday. The conference, titled “Harmonizing National Higher Education Standards to Facilitate Internationalization of Nepali Higher Education”, paved the way for building a common roadmap for Nepal's universities to enhance the state of higher education.
At the conference, the academic leaders discussed the crisis facing Nepal’s universities today and how to resolve it. They committed to developing an action plan to internationalise Nepal’s higher education and reverse the ongoing exodus of Nepali students.
The leaders also committed to forming a common voice for Nepal's universities ahead of the meeting of the Association of Indian Universities North Zone Vice-Chancellors, slated for February 15-16, 2024, to be hosted by Kathmandu University.
The conference, held at the KU main campus in Dhulikhel, was attended by the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Minister of State for Education, Science and Technology Pramila Kumari, and over 150 top leaders of universities, including vice-chancellors, registrars, rectors, deans and faculty members.
Speaking at the program, PM Dahal highlighted the significance of the conference in translating the current challenges into opportunities through knowledge production and support systems. Acknowledging the need for autonomy of higher educational institutions, Dahal expressed the government’s commitment to exploring self-governing models for universities.
“I appreciate the initiatives the universities have taken to standardize higher education with a national education framework, degree equivalence provisions, and quality assurance education under the University Grants Commission,” Dahal said.
State Minister Pramila Kumari highlighted the need to discover relevant ways to address students’ mobility. “This is possible through collaborative efforts in designing effective credit transfer and credit accumulation policy provisions,” Kumari said, emphasizing the need to strengthen higher education with concrete provisions of national and global academic standards.
KU Vice-Chancellor Bhola Thapa said the conference was aimed at bringing uniformity in the standards of education both at the national and regional levels.
“It is our initiation for knowledge sharing and collaboration for common educational interests,” Thapa said, highlighting the need to redefine pathways for the future of higher education. Thapa added that the coming together of policy experts, university authorities and scholars from across universities was a historic occasion that paved the way for strengthening Nepal’s higher education.
KU founding Vice-Chancellor Suresh Raj Sharma stressed how the national identity can be formed based on the quality of education offered by educational institutions. Sharma highlighted the importance of technically sound multidisciplinary learning spaces to align with rapidly changing local and global scenarios. Sharma further stressed the need for united efforts backed by each other's trust and accountability.
KU Registrar Achyut Wagle emphasized the need for professional integrity and ethical responsibility of higher education educators. He further spoke about the initiation to connect the dots for positive impact in educational ecosystem. "We must collaborate through independent, intellectual networks to make the best from where we are at the present," he said, adding, "We must create a loose intellectual debate and dialogue initiative body to focus on issues of higher education."
University Grants Commission (UGC) chairperson Dev Raj Adhikari, speaking at the valedictory session, said the congregation of the universities under the initiative of Kathmandu University complemented the work of the UGC. The conference, Adhikari said, would set a precedent for the UGC to follow when it comes to building a pathway for strengthening higher education in Nepal through umbrella policy. The only condition is if we are committed.
In the technical sessions of the conference, top university leaders presented their roadmaps for the future of Nepal’s universities. Nepal Open University Vice-chancellor Shilu Manandhar Bajracharya spoke about the initiatives and innovations in open learning that are aimed at shaping the higher education landscape. She highlighted the need for self-directed, open learning spaces accessible to learners from every corner. University of Nepal Development Board chairperson Arjun Karki spoke on making our higher education more relevant through liberal arts. Far Western University vice-chancellor Amma Raj Joshi spoke on "Transforming future through student exchange and mobility programs". Gandaki University chancellor Ganesh Man Gurung spoke on "Connecting Nepali higher education to the globe".