Dr Ananya Mukherjee, Vice Chancellor of Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence today addressed an audience on universities as engines of social mobility at the Times Higher Education (THE) World Academic Summit 2022 in New York.
On a panel on Leadership Reflections, she was joined by Melissa Nobles, Chancellor, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Gary Young, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester. The discussion was moderated by Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, THE.
Summit was organized by Times Higher Education in partnership with New York University. This year’s summit focused on the role of higher education leaders and policymakers in meeting the rising expectations for progress among institutions, students as well as the wider higher education ecosystem. More than 75 university presidents (or rectors or vice chancellors) are among over 400 policymakers, business executives and academics who convened at this world summit.
One of the questions posed to Dr Mukherjee asked if it was time to shift focus beyond a few universities with established reputations. Should policymakers and innovators be looking more at institutions who have a keen focus on tackling pre-existing prejudices or overcoming impediments?
“It is indeed time to widen our focus beyond established universities and aim for an ecosystem of universities at different stages of development,” said Dr Mukherjee. “Each member of the ecosystem will have a strength to offer, irrespective of its size and resources, and this will be clearly recognized. All members would agree on a core set of values. One key element of this core value set would be the focus on dismantling systemic barriers, and not only skilling individuals to overcome the specific barriers they face. This will transform universities into institutions infinitely greater than the sum of individual outcomes. The comfort zone for universities is the latter – but it is no longer enough if they are to become engines of social mobility.”
“Let us work towards the creation of such ecosystems, hopefully with leadership from the Global South, built on true partnerships and recognition of the different kinds of strengths we can each bring to the table,” she said in conclusion.