Restructuring courses to meet contemporary needs


Every university in India is offering the usual courses in Arts and Science colleges, but the syllabus contained in most of them is totally inadequate when it comes to enabling students to stay relevant in a changing world. This article is an attempt at creating such relevance by restructuring courses and syllabuses to reflect and meet contemporary needs.

Introduction

Every autonomous college or University will have a body consisting of subject experts who meet and decide how to update the syllabus. It is commonly noticed that we have brilliant academics who dominate such positions, but none from the industry where the students need to be employed. We need a drastic restructuring of syllabuses year on year and this cannot be achieved if there are no industrial experts in the bodies constituted for the updating of the syllabus. The New Education Policy seeks to aim at drastic reforms. It is still unclear how this will pan out in the years to come.

However, in the interim period, the Universities should gear up to doing something more dramatic, in terms of a massive restructuring of the syllabus. In this article, we will discuss some possibilities in this regard. It is hoped that when the restructuring takes place, the suggestions mentioned herein will be considered in some form or the other. Be that as it may, the restructuring has to start somewhere and we need solid examples to get going. When the process is complete, at least in a few pockets, there will be a sea change in terms of a record of changes, with a solid record of relevance in terms of jobs with employability as the main criteria.

In the main, we will look at examples. We will look for a) Making liberal sciences a common subject b) b) Restructuring history to include and focus on tourism development c) Enabling the University MBA students to get all relevant knowledge through cluster learning d) Restructuring Chemistry courses and e) Restructuring Commerce courses.

Making liberal sciences a common subject

The Asoka University in New Delhi runs a superb Post-graduate diploma course in Liberal Sciences. The students are taught business management, sociology, psychology, public administration, and the like. Reportedly, the American method of teaching is put into place and the placement opportunities are one hundred per cent, year on year.

The need is to introduce at least a few papers of these in all MBA/M.COM/Engineering and all Arts and Science courses like BA(Economics) and so on. This will enable the students to have a wider knowledge and application of global issues such as poverty, public hygiene, sanitation, sustainable development, and equitable sharing of all resources. This is exactly what is needed in a contemporary context. Even the engineers should know what is going on around them. The trick is to enlist the support of experts from Asoka University and help them introduce the relevant subjects as electives in various courses, pan-India.

Restructuring history to include and focus on tourism development

It has been reported that History and Sociology are the two favourite subjects taken by thousands of Civil Service aspirants. While this may be good, it is deplorable that history is taught as pure history. History needs to reflect on changing society's needs, even while preserving cultural heritage. For example, if the history of social reform in India is unable to throw light upon what needs to be done to further develop the backward classes, history becomes irrelevant. Another big opportunity is to tie-up with the various tourism bodies and the State Tourism Development Corporations and combines the history course with certificate courses in the relevant domains. For example, there could be an internship of the history students with the tourist organizers who organize the various heritage tours by train and bus in the places of rich cultural heritage. The classic example is Mamallapuram, also called Mahabalipuram, where Modi conducted talks with his Chinese counterpart sometime ago. The scope is very wide but a beginning has to be compulsorily made.

Enabling the University MBA students to get all relevant knowledge through cluster learning

The University MBA students are a pitiable lot. They do not have the exposure that is very much needed for real-world practices. The PGDM students, who have no University control, have several electives and internship opportunities that enable them to be streets ahead. The trick is to involve the same B-Schools to initiate the knowledge clusters. For example, the Thiagarajar School of Management could form the nodal centre for the Madurai cluster and all MBA students of the Anna and Madurai-Kamaraj Universities should meet every Sunday to exchange information and get trained on all that is latest. For example, what will happen to the services sector in a post-COVID situation? The scope is very wide but the process has to be immediately kick-started. Similarly, the best B-school in Tiruchirapalli, the Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirappalli, can be the nodal centre for all MBA students of the Tiruchi region studying through the Bharathidasan University /Anna University. This has to become a pan-India initiative and should have industry support and participation.

Restructuring Chemistry courses

There is an urgent need to restructure the Chemistry courses and eliminate the UG and PG courses now being conducted. Instead, specializations such as industrial chemistry, Pharmaceutical chemistry, Engineering industry chemistry, and so on, should be introduced. For example, there is an application of Chemistry in every Foundry. Those who are interested in a career in the Foundry industry should study those electives. Industry participation and involvement in the syllabus formation and panning out in terms of application through internship opportunities should be combined with mentoring through industry experts.

Restructuring Commerce courses

Leading colleges and deemed Universities like the Loyola College, Chennai, and Christ University, Bangalore, have introduced B.Com degree courses that are combined with the internationally recognized CIMA courses. There are a good number of colleges that even have the ACCA or ACA qualification. The logic and the urgent imperative need is to get this done as a routine in all colleges.

Furthermore, a good deal of business management knowledge particularly relevant to the industry should be introduced. Electives in Supply Chain Management, Materials Management, Human Resources Development in collaboration with the Indian Society of Training and Development, should be introduced as a routine, pan-India. The scope is very wide. It is a matter of deep regret that most colleges, in most parts of India, have only Accountancy as the main focus in the B.Com course. Result? Across industrial organizations, these Accountancy experts are widely referred to as "bean counters". The term is derogative and just denotes a mindset that concentrates only on cost-cutting, day in and day out.

Conclusion

Only a few examples, as observed through several experiences, have been discussed above. In line with the new Educational policy, if we do have a massive shift in terms of restructuring of syllabuses of all courses, that itself will become a big educational reform. The nitty-gritty of doing this depends on the element of innovation that can be inevitably part of the entire exercise, as we go along. However, the need to kick start the process is urgent and should start immediately. The trick is to get going without much Government interference. Only when the results come, can we think of getting the support of the Government, as there will be pressure on it to perform.


Comments

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao24 Nov 2020 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6

A good article from the author. The degrees should be useful to the students in getting jobs. The degree holders should have the skills required for the industry. These days many industries are not able to get a person who is suitable for their requirement. I feel the new education policy that is being talked about these days is an attempt in that line only.
Traditional courses where the theory part is covered extensively is not coming in handy for many students. They have to obtain additional skills by undergoing some more certificate courses or diploma courses. If these skills are made a part of the curriculum in the degree courses and PG courses, many students will get benefitted. Many universities started working on these lines but more serious is required.
Coordination between the academic institutions and industry is the key. The people in the industry should have a say in designing the courses and the course content. If this happened we can see good development in the education sector also.



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