India: the next market for community colleges

Community colleges have a proven track record of success. They deliver skills training, prepare students for four-year institutions, and are more affordable and more accessible than most other institutions of higher education. This is something that America has known for decades, but more areas of the world, like India, are catching on and looking to build their own community & technical college systems.

India is home to almost 600 million individuals under the age of 25, making its population the youngest in the entire world. As such, providing education and skills training to  India’s millions upon millions of young people is key to ensuring the country’s future prosperity. India’s vision for a community college system addresses the need for skills development, student mobility, partnerships with business and industry, and a host of other factors.

Shoreline Community College’s Director of eLearning, Ann Garnsey-Harter, and I recently had the opportunity to visit India as part of a delegation sponsored by the Indian government and the U.S. State Department. I was honored to be part of a panel discussion titled, “Mainstreaming Skills Education: creating a relevant human resource,” which focused on various topics including the organizational and governance structure of a robust community college system, funding models, strategies for faculty recruitment and development, methods of curriculum development and how to involve the community, business and industry.

From my perspective, community colleges are where the ideals of democracy are realized because, with an open door policy, community colleges are truly for everyone. Of critical importance is the development of programs that provide portable, stackable industry credentials that are validated by a third party. At Shoreline Community College, NAM and NC3 provide such credentials and our students are succeeding in family-wage jobs with these credentials in tow.

It was truly an honor and a privilege to represent the US community colleges at this forum. I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for higher education in India!

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