Prof R S Bawa, Vice Chancellor, Chandigarh University, discusses with Amita Jain how to create a student-centric, industry-oriented and a futuristic university. He says, “The first step is to understand what kind of students are going to join your university. Gen Y and Z are more exposed to information and you can’t expect the old formulae of teaching and learning to work on them.” Here is an excerpt of Careers360’s conversation with him.
A lot has been said about the present generation. They are the brainiest, most educated, most aware and much more. Universities have to take these characteristics into account when they talk of becoming a student-centric university. The first step is to understand what kind of students are going to join your university. Gen Y and Z are more exposed to information and you can’t expect the old formulae of teaching and learning to work on them.
Five cardinal questions
When we were to admit students, we started to think how a Gen Y kid thinks. They ask four main questions, ‘Why’ you are teaching, ‘What’ you are teaching, ‘When’ I pass out what this education will make of me and ‘How’ do you plan to do that and the final question ‘What’ will be the career options available to me. We started answering each of these questions and this helped us in becoming a student-centric university.
Often industry is of the opinion that there is a huge gap in what universities are teaching and what they are doing. My view is when you interact with the industry keep the placement part out. If my students are good, they are bound to come and if they are bad, even if they come, they will not come back again So, the agenda is that industry helps us prepare students to face future challenges.
We approached the corporates right in our first year. We said, come to us and tell us what we are doing right and wrong, and if what we are teaching is not relevant, tell us what to teach. We were able to convince about 35-36 corporates, including IBM, Wipro and Tech Mahindra. We asked their help in designing our curriculum. We made it a rule for each Board of Studies to have at least two industry experts. As a result of this, we currently have more than 250 members of the corporate advisory board and this may be the largest corporate board of any university, having all the top corporates and MNCs such as Hyundai, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, etc.
The second effect was we started offering courses in industry collaboration. Now, we have formal MoUs with IBM to offer three courses and our first batch is already out. We also started degree courses with ICICI and others.
The third advantage which came of this approach was a large number of labs were sponsored by the industry. IBM set up its first university lab here called IBM Lab of Emerging Technologies. Microsoft gave us an innovation centre. Similarly, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, HP, Microsoft, Intel labs were added. Another outcome of this was the students started performing very well. When that happened, Microsoft became our ‘Day 0’ company.
I think the government needs to become more realistic. I don’t mind regulations, but they should be realistic. For instance, ICAR, the regulatory body for agriculture, says to have a batch of 60 students you should have 40 teachers. It is as good as an impractical and a reckless demand. AICTE demands 1:20 teacher-student ratio, which is fair enough. You must prescribe minimum standards, but let the people experiment. If a university cannot innovate, who else will.
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