PANAJI: President Ram Nath Kovind today said that although India was the third-largest education system in the world, access to higher education was still a privilege in the country.
He said India had made "impressive gains" in widening the higher education ecosystem by setting up new institutions, but a greater challenge was improving its quality.
Kovind was speaking at the 30th Annual Convocation of Goa University at Dona Paula near here.
"I request young men and women to bear in mind that access to higher education is a still a privilege in India. It is the contribution of countless citizens, many of whom will not even know you personally, that sustain institutions such as Goa University," Kovind said.
"There is a greater emphasis by the government and other stakeholders in making higher education inclusive and expansive. India has the world's third-largest education system and it also holds the largest young population," he added.
India had made impressive gains in widening higher education ecosystem, Kovind said.
The very fact that many new institutions, including central universities and IITs, were being established in the hitherto under-served locations illustrated the national commitment to take higher education to the masses, he said.
"Expansion of quantity has to be complemented with quality. This is where the greater challenge exists. As technology advances and the society grapples with the implication of the industrial revolution, higher education has to adapt to new expectations," he said.
Kovind said universities had to be sensitive towards inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary pathways without losing sight of the core of disciplinary knowledge.
"Quality has to be visible not only in the content of what is being taught and learnt, but also in how it is being taught and learnt," he said.
"Our universities have to compete not against each other but against itself," the president said.
He said he was struck by the tenacity and academic outcomes of girl students across the country.
"This is a game changer for our society. Goa's promotion of girls' education is a model for other states. The performance of girl students at Goa University is an example," he said.
"I'm told that of the 67 gold medals, 41 have been won by girl students. This is an outstanding achievement not just for the university and Goa but for the entire country," Kovind said.
The president advised the students that while building their careers, they should try to give back to the society in whatever manner they could.
"Education is empowerment, it not only helps us know our world better, but also enables us to think of ways to change the world better," he said.
Goa Governor and Chancellor of the University Mridula Sinha and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar were also present on the occasion.