How Faculty Exchange programs can transform Indian Institutions

The incidence of faculty-staff exchange programs, both international and inter institutional, is one way Indian higher education institutions can ascertain and sustain quality education. These programs are mutual, inter-institutional arrangements through with the proficiency and services of one institute’s faculty are exchanged with the other institution for time-limited periods. The primary aim of an academic exchange program is to provide the opportunity for the exchanged personnel to serve as “employees” of the host institution; to encourage professional development through the stimulus of a different setting; and for the host organizations to benefit from the knowledge and skills of the exchanged personnel. It assists in transformative internationalisation of the university.

These faculty exchange programs in most cases international faculty exchange lead to some benefits that accrue to the organization like:

  • Revitalization of course content at the school to reflect the latest trends;
  • Invigoration of school faculty by the addition of new colleagues directly involved in the similar practice arena;
  • Creation of new opportunities for future school-agency collaboration on research, special projects and practicals;
  • Acquisition or update of practice experience which can inform faculty teaching and research

When a higher education institution actively supports a program of international faculty exchange by means of a foreign university partnership, they endorse the wider experience that exchange faculty members bring to the new and different environments; broader exposure for our students from visiting faculty members; expanding reputation of the college/institution/university in the quality of its students and faculty; and increased opportunities for faculty to meet and work with colleagues in different institutions.

And the overriding positive element is that the costs to the universities/institutions involved are minimal since each institution will continue to provide salaries and fringe benefits for its own faculty members. This arrangement, furthermore, will greatly facilitate exchanges and provide for minimal interruption to individual careers, earnings, and accrued benefits, such as time toward sabbatical leaves, pensions, etc.

Faculty exchanges are not limited to exchanges with other universities and colleges but may be arranged with industrial firms, government agencies, businesses, and such, where both parties involved may benefit from the exchange.

Introducing an Academic Exchange Program in an Institute

The international faculty exchange program is one way to take advantage of the benefits of diverse and talented faculty. This is a slow process for an institute who is building an exchange program. In order to facilitate the process, Indian institutes should look for foreign university partnerships to develop plans for a faculty exchange programs. These plans will benefit faculty members from both foreign universities and Indian institutions by exposing them to new ideas, other cultures and different methods of teaching. The faculty exchange programs will be viable if they are flexible. The faculty exchange programs present a unique opportunity for interaction between foreign universities and Indian institutions.

They will create a greater bond among the concerned institutions and will be a powerful recruitment and retention tool.

There are certain things that need to be taken care of in case the college/institution wants to introduce an academic exchange program in the school.

  1. Documentation: The institution must have written policies covering job descriptions, reporting responsibilities, liability, and other personnel issues for their employees when they are working off-site. A formal agreement and supporting addenda outlining the details of policies governing the management of the exchange program between the two institutions must be created.
  2. Legal issues: Individuals interested in faculty/staff exchanges may have concerns about professional liability. Since there is no change of employment status in an exchange program (staff is “on loan”), benefits, insurance, vacation time, etc., remain as they are at the originating employer.
  3. Supporting the exchange program: Employees should be supported financially by their own institutions with no changes in employment status or benefits. Written policies should stipulate that participants in the exchange program will be provided with office space, library access, and other work-related support.
  4. Length of appointments: Length of exchange appointments can vary and should reflect the needs of the institutions involved. One-semester appointments are appropriate for the teaching of specialized courses that are not taught on a regular basis. One-year appointments allow more time for course and curriculum development and research. The particular tasks to be accomplished should dictate the time needed.

The overriding reason to develop a faculty exchange program remains the need to  enhance the higher education institute’s educational profile interstate and overseas;  popularize the strategic objectives and directions of the institute;  broaden the personal and professional experience of participating teachers by providing an opportunity to enhance skills and knowledge;  contribute to the participating higher education institutes by focusing on the initiatives of different education systems;  contribute to the enrichment of participating host schools; foster communication, goodwill and exchange ideas between states/territories and countries;  promote networking between students, teachers and schools; and  acknowledge the commitment and contribution of effective faculty on exchange.

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