Introduction Some decades ago, the Indian School of Business(ISB) was built at Hyderabad. This is among Asia's best B-schools. However, even today, neither the Government of India, nor the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), has anything to do with it as the functional autonomy of the ISB has not been disturbed at all. ISB does not even recognize the CAT scores. Instead, it recognizes the GMAT exam scores. GMAT is a global examination, and those who qualify are eligible for admission to many B-schools not only in the USA but in Europe as well. There are B-schools in Singapore, too, that admit those who have good GMAT scores.
ISB is the perfect example of what it means to run a course like the one-year PGDM with massive industry orientation. We need many more examples of this sort. One is also told that Foreign Universities are keen on setting up campuses here. This is another positive development. We need industry collaboration of the tallest order.
Ensuring the industry-academia link is possible through a) a Memorandum of Understanding on a large scale b) Breaking of rules for new courses c) Enabling quality research with industry participation d) Making industry expert Faculty compulsory for all courses and e) Evolving ground rules for an effective internship at all levels.
Memorandum of Understanding on a large scale Let us consider one major group that is now growing by leaps and bounds. This is the Mahindra & Mahindra group of industries. They are in a variety of industries including real estate. They have a pan-India presence. The first ever Special Economic Zone, in the private sector, was set up on the outskirts of Chennai, by Mahindra& Mahindra. The trick is for highly reputed Universities like the Amity University, to set up quality research centers in not only engineering disciplines but also socially relevant disciplines such as Economics.
For example, one area that is a very grey area is the policy prescriptions for the economic development of the Hindi-speaking States. They are now being developed through quality infrastructure, but the other vital human development Indices like education, transport, and health care are still vastly underdeveloped. High-quality micro research in Economics can even lead to innovations. For example, if there is scope for the training of women as small entrepreneurs, who could follow the self-help movement of Tamil Nadu, it will be really excellent. But someone needs to bell the cat and high-quality research requires funds. Only through MOUs, can this become possible.
Breaking of all rules for new courses The National Stock Exchange and the Mumbai Stock Exchange can collaborate with the University of Mumbai to take forward a number of new courses. Since the State Universities receive funds from the State Government, the pricing of the new courses need not be so high. These courses can be on Capital Markets Management, Management of Financial Institutions, Portfolio Management, and so on. These can be offered as weekend courses.
At the moment, the IITs and the IIMs have already jumped into the new game. They have already announced a number of new courses on a variety of subjects and these courses can be the model for the State Universities to emulate. However, the State Universities may suffer from the quality of infrastructure or even Faculty Members. This is one big issue that needs to be addressed. However, when the process of bringing in new courses starts and gathers pace, even the State Universities can appeal to their alumni settled all over the world, to chip in and get the IT infrastructure in place. When this happens, there can be a revolution in terms of online teaching. Highly innovative courses like a Certificate in Micro Economics, Management of Small Scale Enterprises, and so on, can actually open up the need for such courses on a large scale. It is hoped that such courses can not only act as springboards of knowledge but can also open up the potential for advanced research into what is needed in specific areas.
Enabling quality research with industry participationContrary to the industry perception that quality students are available only in urban areas or colleges, there is also an untapped reservoir of talent available in semi-urban and rural areas. Combined with the native intelligence of the locals, the net result can be very effective. For example, there are reports of a number of social entrepreneurs in India. This special category of "for profit" entrepreneurs are those who have innovated with some new technology or new business model, but with the active involvement of the local population.
One area that comes to mind is the scope for advanced research into organic farming. A good private Deemed University like the Kalasilingam University can take the lead here and collaborate with local farmers. The University is situated in a vast expanse of land in a rural area in South Tamil Nadu. As such, the aforesaid Deemed University is well qualified to enter into collaboration with the big industries in the area and appeal to them to donate part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for such research. Their Alumni can also support the research with funds.
Making industry expert Faculty compulsory for all coursesA few academic institutions have already advertised for positions such as Professor of Practice. This should not be an exception. It should become a rule. Only when this sort of collaboration happens can we dream of making the industry-academic linkages meaningful.
Evolving ground rules for effective internshipsOne of the main reasons for the ineffectiveness of internships, even in metro cities, is the total lack of involvement from the teachers. There will be a single letter seeking help for such an internship, but once the internship permission is granted, the students are left to fend for themselves. Instead, if there is a small written test admitting the best students, and then making them contribute, with some small stipend being given, it can stimulate interest in students and help them contribute. The teachers should be made to visit the place of internship at least once a week and spend time monitoring the learning. There should be greater involvement of all stakeholders for the internship to become meaningful.
ConclusionA few thoughts on making deep inroads into the vital industry-academia link have been discussed above. Hopefully, the ideas will open up some discussion at the policy level, for further improvement.
This is a good article from the author. Industry and academic institutions should work together so that the students coming out of these institutions will be helpful to the industries.
The governments are spending a lot of money on education and research. The research that is taking place in many institutions is mainly useful for the student to get his doctorate only. But if the industry also become a part of this research activity more productive work can be carried out. By doing this all the parties involved will get benefited.
The academic institutions should invite experts from the industry and arrange special lectures so that the needs of the industry will be known to the institutes also. The syllabus should be designed in consultation with industry experts so that the student will learn the skills that are required for the industry.
Doing an internship or a project by students of Engineering and other professional courses should become a part of the curriculum. The students should go to an industry and work on their own on the project there and should submit their project work report. Once this system is implemented the students will get accustomed to the working environment and they will understand the skills that are required for them to acquire and do the needful. The teaching staff of the institutes should visit these industries along with students and explain to them the theory behind each operation in the factory so that students will understand how their academic knowledge can be applied in the industry.
This will enhance the interaction between the academic institutions and the industry. That will help the institution to understand what is training required for their students and the same can be implemented by them.